Visiting the home of Cruzcampo beer in Malaga
La Fábrica de Cerveza, Malaga
Beer is a bit of a religion in Andalucia, and Cruzcampo is the best-selling beer of them all, by far. It's a light Pilsner, best served very cold, and almost always twinned with tapas.
These days, when you visit a craft brewery, you're bombarded with options and explanations. The owners usually go to extreme lengths to tell you what they have on tap, how they make it, and so on and so forth. Even though I appreciate the craftsmanship, beer is all about taking a break. Things are different at Cruzcampo because they don't expect you to ask, they expect you to walk up, all business, and tell the person behind the counter that you'd like a caña, por favor. That's the Andalusian way.
Caña is a small glass of beer, half a British pint, and it's popular because the smaller size means the beer stays cooler in the summer. And it's always summer in Andalucia.
I landed at Malaga airport after a two-hour layover in Barcelona. All I was good for was a cold shower and an even colder beer. I happened upon La Fábrica after wandering around. I rarely Google places, I'd rather just walk around and find somewhere.
I had three caña(s): 'standard' Cruzcampo (5% abv), Cruzcampo Malagueta (4.6% abv) and Cruzcampo IPA (5.1% abv). Total damage? €7.70 for a 2.64-pint, or 50-oz, beer tasting.
Cruzcampo Malagueta is named after the beach in Malaga. It's a light pale ale made from three different types of malts, with four hops added, which makes it fruity, but bittersweet. The Malagueta is designed to achieve the perfect balance and combination of sugar, alcohol content and aroma. The idea is that you should enjoy a caña or two in a summer evening on the beach. It's a brilliant beer. The sort of beer my old nutritionist friend Barry from Ireland would tell me to drink after a game of football (soccer).
cheers, fellow Foodtribers
The IPA is awesome, amazing, astounding, astonishing. I'll run out of praise beginning with A before I get over it. Experts love to say beer can be "rich" in taste, but this isn't rich, this is a billionaire levels of flavour. It's made with four hops, three malts and oats, which explains the richness. It probably also helped that it was particularly cold.
The joy of Andalucia, Spain
Malaga is a port town in Andalucia, which is technically in Spain but feels like Southern California, and I definitely mean that as a compliment.
The first thing you notice as you get off the plane is the heat. A constant halo of dry heat permeates the air, and the sky is dusty blue. Andalucia is a relatively vast region comprising a relatively small population. There are sierras and beaches and meadows and vineyards and hectic, urban centres where beer is cheap and the people are genuine.
You have to get out of your own way to remind yourself that you're in Spain, or indeed Europe, because it feels alien. It has that "away from the world" feel to it.
This is, by far, my favourite place in Europe. I'm never happier than I am in Andalucia.
What's your go-to drink?