Just 30 years ago nobody could have imagined that today there would be over a hundred bodegas in the Balearic Islands. In 2018 we are exporting to the most unimaginable countries and places. Craft beer is the next big thing. Simpler and cheaper to produce, without the need for big infrastructures. Mallorca has joined this growing trend, as proven by the dozens of craft beer brands that are already established and producing their drinks at different parts of the island. We take a look at three of them to have a closer look at how a craft beer is made.
Miquel Amoros Crawford manages Beer Lovers in Alcúdia and he declares it is a difficult market. “Only a handful of people can tell the difference between a craft beer and an industrial one. Craft beer still hasn’t attained the status of wine.” He explains to us that consumers don’t mind paying a bit extra for a good wine, but very few will spend more money on a quality beer.
Miguel started his brewery together with his brother Felip in the family home, located on a quiet little street in the old part of Alcúdia. The brothers have worked for four years, achieving a great deal of success with their beers. two years ago, their product Negro, an imperial beer, won an award at the BXL Beerfest (Brussels).
Mallorca still has a relatively small craft beer production and Miguel tells us that there are around ten microbreweries on the island. Their combined production totals around 300,000 litres a year. Nothing in comparison to the local vineyards that have an annual production of somewhere in the region of six million litres of wine. “We create a high-quality product that deserves the same recognition as a good wine.”
Beer producers spend a long time preparing their recipes, however, Beer Lover’s most highly-rated beer happened by accident. The brothers were preparing their first beer when the thermometer gave the wrong reading. Suddenly the mixture boiled and the hops had to be added quickly. The urgency meant they had to change the formula and the amounts, resulting in an unexpected success, as the beer has become their top seller.
“We were planning to prepare a pale ale, but the amazing result was an IPA (Indian Pale Ale)”, Miquel says, and laughs. He tells us that their beer doesn’t contain any added preservatives, and is therefore more sensitive to light, which is why IPA comes in dark bottles. Generally it takes around six weeks to prepare a beer. Half the process takes place in large metal containers where the first fermentation takes place. Later, the beer is bottled, where it continues to ferment. During this process, a natural carbonic acid is created and three weeks later it is ready to drink. Miguel explains that a beer should be consumed quite quickly because the characteristics of the beer deteriorate over time. “Craft beer is best drunk locally, so we are not considering exporting because it is difficult to control what happens to the beer during transportation,” says Miguel.
Our second destination is Galilea, a major Mallorcan hub on the microbrewery map. Chelo Ferris and Sebastián Morey produced their first craft beer in their kitchen. It all started a couple of years ago when Sebastián came home with all the equipment to set up a small brewery in the family home for personal consumption. Chelo wasn’t exactly impressed with her husband’s newfound pass-time at first, but her interest in it grew over time. After the birth of their third child, she decided to start a microbrewery called Galilea. It was Chelo who took the initiative to juggle brewing beer with rearing their children.
“I remember bottling our first batch of beer with my youngest child latched on to my breast,” Chelo says nostalgically.
It has been eight years since Chelo converted her husband’s hobby into a profession. They have produced six quality craft beers and become Mallorca’s craft beer pioneers. Sebastián has supported his wife’s success and is currently working with her full time in the brewery, which has grown from the family kitchen to better installations at Puigpunyent.
It is the couple’s desire to move their production facilities to Galilea where they have rented a large farm. They are already growing hops and the first pigs will be arriving in a couple of weeks. Their aim is to create a natural cycle on the farm where beer is at the centre. The remains of the beer production feeds the animals and with an added lifting agent can also be used to bake bread. On the patio, visitors can enjoy a cool beer and eat other produce from the farm. It’s a slow process but Chelo is patient. She doesn’t see it as an impossible feat, but rather one that takes time to change peoples’ attitudes.
Lluís Albert Rossilló has travelled down a similar path. But what sets him apart from the rest is that he doesn’t have his own brewery although he produces seven types of beer under the brand name Boscana. His interest in beer started while he was studying at the catering school in Palma and his teacher took the students to a workshop on beer production. From that day on he spent many Saturdays producing. “I created all my beers in a shop where I experimented with creating the perfect beer in small quantities. Later I took the recipe to a brewery and had them prepare it for me in larger quantities,” he explains.
The reason I chose to become a phantom brewer was to avoid the large investment needed to start my own brewery. He made his first beer with Chelo and Sebastián. It was a frothy cream ale, which isn’t common on the market but was a popular beer in the United States in the 1920’s during the prohibition. As Lluís Albert comes from the world of hotels and restaurants, it is important for him that the beer can be paired with food. He works in close collaboration with several of the best restaurants on the island. The chefs Marc Fors and Macarena de Castro have featured his beers on their tasting menus.
Other brands are: Cervesa des Pla (Algaida) Forastera (Molinar) Sullerica (Soller), Myq (Alaró), Tramuntana (Palma), Nau (Santa María), Talaiòtika (Felanitx) Cas Cerveser
Text and photo