Beer, and in particular craft beer, is undergoing something of a renaissance in Spain at the moment. In the last few years several small, artisan breweries have sprung up around Catalunya and in the north of Spain, while big brands like Estrella have launched their own ‘artisan’ ranges. The latest in the beer rush is Casasola, brewed in a 17th-century Benedictine monastery just outside of Valladolid.
Named for the brewery itself, they currently produce two ales based on an ancient Italian recipe that includes pure spring water, barley and honey—Casasola Benedictina (blonde) and Casasola Silos (amber)—all of which are sourced, grown or produced on the estate.
Casasola Benedictina is double malted to give it a smooth, light and floral finish, making it a great aperitif beer or something to serve with food, particularly white fish, chicken or pork, and rice dishes. Casasola Silos on the other hand uses four toasted malts for a richer, more rounded finish that is redolent of citrus and spice. Orange peel, cinnamon and nutmeg give it unexpected complexity. Pair this with autumnal game dishes and you’ll understand why, in the UK at least, beer is now giving wine a run for its money.
Exotic ingredients aside, Casasola is real ale at its best. The double fermentation creates a fine, natural bubble and it is not pasteurised, which means the nutritional goodness inherent in beer—B vitamins for example—is able to thrive. I wouldn’t go so far as calling it a health drink, but it’s certainly a better option than the industrial brews we’ve been used to.
One final point: serve in a stemmed beer glass rather than a pint, Benedictina at between four and six degrees, and Silos around eight degrees. It probably won’t hit Barcelona until the end of the year, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for if you happen to be in Madrid, Marbella or Valladolid.