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Try Spanish Beer on Your Next Trip to Spain

By Isabel Forga |

Find out all the details about Spanish beer, from its history to the most popular brands, and learn to enjoy this blonde drink on your next trip to Spain.

One of the most popular drinks in the world is beer. In many countries, this drink is a tradition, and people drink a large amount of liters per year. Such is the case of Germany and the Czech Republic, or even of Latin America and Australia, countries where beer was introduced by others, but where it has established itself as the favorite drink. This time, we present you the Spanish beer, a growing tradition among international beers.

The Origins of Beer in the Iberian Peninsula

It’s common knowledge that Spain is a country with a renowned wine production. This travel destination houses more than one million hectares of vineyards and six hundred varieties of Spanish native grapes. Some of them have great international prestige. Even though the history of beer dates back to the times of the Iberian people, the Spanish beer tradition is perhaps not so popular.

These people brewed a fermented drink based on cereals, probably wheat, called caelia. However, this tradition was lost after the invasion of the Roman Empire. The Romans deemed Iberian people barbarians and thought that the drink they produced was inferior to wine. For this reason, under their rule, growing grape vines became predominant, and the caelia fell into oblivion for many centuries. In fact, it was not until the twentieth century that the blonde drink became popular in Spanish territory. And we can call it “blonde”, despite the fact that there are uncountable varieties of beer. This is because it was basically the Pilsen which was brought to Spain. Nowadays, it is still the best-selling beer.

Spanish Beer, the Court’s Favorite

It’s not long since Spanish beer became popular in Spanish households. Nevertheless, there were some previous attempts to make it popular during the reigns of the Houses of Austria and Bourbon. However, it seems that the taste for this drink from northern Europe remained popular only among members of the court. It took a long time before it conquered the public. Wine was the drink which continued to predominate at inns and households throughout the Spanish territory.

Beer Consumption in Spain

Nowadays, the situation is very different. In 2016, the Spaniards consumed a total of 46.4 liters of beer per capita. This number is very low compared with that of other European countries such as the Czech Republic or Germany. Even so, Spain is usually listed among the twenty countries that drink the most beer in the world. Moreover, 90% of the beer consumed in the country is produced domestically. If we divide the territory into regions, the biggest consumers are located in the south, specifically in Andalusia and Extremadura, followed by Madrid and Catalonia.

The first breweries and local shops were located in Barcelona, since it has an important seaport. Even so, nowadays beer is more popular in the southern part of the country.

The Spanish Beer, a Great Variety 

As we mentioned, Spanish beer is very well-positioned in the country despite international beer brands.  There is a great variety of brands throughout the territory, and beer factories have a long tradition. One example is Alhambra beers and their characteristic green bottle of the Alhambra reserva de 1925. Another one is the famous Estrella de Galicia,  in the north of the country, which began to elaborate the blonde beer since 1910.  One more example is  Amber beer, made in Aragón since 1900 by the La Zaragozana factory.

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Tapas and Spanish Beer

Spanish cuisine is rich and varied. Any traditional dish, from paella to tortilla – similar to a potato omelette– can be paired with a refreshing beer, especially in the case of Spanish tapas. Surely,  you have tried them in one of your trips to Spain, since they are usually served in bars.  It’s also true that they used to be paired with wine instead of beer, and that this habit is not completely lost. In any case, DINKtravelers, your international world guide, reccomends you go out for tapas next time you visit Spain. 

Spanish Tapas, a Taste of Spanish Cuisine

This old custom of visiting different places to try different specialties with their corresponding caña (glass of beer of about 25 cl) has now become a cultural and social phenomenon, which has already spread to other countries. Spanish tapas offer infinite possibilities that depend on the region, since they can be prepared with all kinds of ingredients, offering a taste of all kinds of typical Spanish dishes. They can be cold or hot, simple or sophisticated, served in bread or in a clay pot, held with a toothpick or in a skewer. Their names can also vary: montaditos, pinchos… And in some cities, Spanish tapas are free when ordering a drink. Who could refuse to try them? Surely, they’re the perfect excuse to go for a beer.

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Now that you know more about Spanish beer, don’t forget to try it on your next trip to Spain. Of course, make sure you pair it with some delicious Spanish tapas. When you come back, tell us which Spanish beer was your favorite  and which international beers you like the most.