Photo by Tara Stevens
Riner Catalan beer
I learned a new word today: lúpulo, from the Latin, that means hops in Castilian. I’ve never given hops here a great deal of thought not being a massive beer drinker, but a trip into the Catalan hinterland in search of some of the region's best artisan brewers has revealed an entire movement with as much passion for their craft as any brewer in England or Belgium. More on that in the magazine soon.
In the meantime one of the greatest revelations for me—aside from the fact that brown glass protects the beer from UV rays, and green glass reveals a certain cheapness to the maker, that lager can be dark, and ale can be light—was a golden, unfiltered beer made by the Ca l’Arenys brewery called Guineu Riner, and a mere 2.3 percent alcohol.
On the nose, it is sweet with traces of, hmm, well, I thought elderflower, my guide smelled grapefruit, certainly it was kinda citrusy. It had a decent, frothy head on it, too, reflected in a creamy textured mouth. What I liked most was the contrast of bitterness, hops and sweetness that for a low alcohol showed surprising depth. Honestly, I really felt like I was drinking something. No wonder it got the thumbs up at the Great British Beer Festival 2009.