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Traveling Connoisseur: Mallorca (Issue 22)

One of the big benefits of the global craft beer boom is that it is now possible to go on holiday almost anywhere in the world and find good, locally brewed craft beer on sale. There are, for example, around 300 craft breweries in Spain now – and that includes the Mediterranean holiday haven of Mallorca, largest of the Balearic islands, 125 miles to the east of the Spanish mainland, which welcomes 10 million tourists a year.

Mallorca is currently home to seven craft breweries, all of which have started in the past three or four years. Few Mallorcan bars, alas, stock anything but big-name lagers and, in the built-up tourist belt around the coast, other macrobrews such as Guinness. But the small guys have made a surprisingly successful push into the island's supermarkets, so that even the beer shelves of stores serving big tourist centres such as Cala D'Or in the southeast will have bottles from four or five small Mallorcan breweries.

At the same time the better Mallorcan restaurants have recognised that if you are going to promote Mallorcan cuisine and Mallorcan produce, it makes sense to sell artisanal Mallorcan beers alongside Mallorcan wines for your patrons to drink, so that good craft beers can be found in the sort of high-class restaurant that would not necessarily stock such brews in other parts of the world.

Life is a little different on Majorca from, say, Italy, where Italian craft brewers are making much-admired pilsner-style brews: no Mallorcan brewer makes a lager, simply because they could not compete with the Spanish giants, Estrella Damm and Mahou San Miguel, on price. But all seem to make a wheat beer (“blat” in Catalan), which is evidently seen as the entry-level craft beer for locals, and there are pale ales, IPAs, and speciality beers too.



Touristy areas of Mallorca rarely stock local brews – to find them, one must travel inland.


 

The Sullerica brewery, in the small town of Sóller, in the west of the island, makes a very good wheat beer flavored with local lemon peel, and an equally fine amber ale, Original, which includes rosemary, lemon verbena and orange blossoms, or ‘flor de taronger’ in Catalan. Alas, the beer brewed with bitter olives the brewery was making in 2014 seems to have disappeared.


The Sullerica Brewery incorporates tastes of the local terroir in its beers, like rosemary, lemon, and even olive.


Sóller is a lovely old town worth a visit in its own right (take the somewhat rickety train up from Palma), and if you go there, you'll find Sullorica beers on sale in the excellent Café Scholl, a vegetarian restaurant in Carrer de la Victòria. You should also track down "Fet a Sóller" ice cream, which is also made from locally grown ingredients.

Another establishment concentrating on local flavourings is the Cas Cerveser brewery in Galilea, about eight miles to the west of Palma, started by a German-Mallorcan brewer called Sebastián Morey, which makes a first-class sour cherry beer, Cor de Cirera, aged for a year in French oak barrels that had previously contained red wine from the Bodegas Son Puig in nearby Puigpunyent.

Other Mallorcan brews worth finding are Rossa, an English bitter-style bottle-conditioned ale from the Pla brewery, named for Es Pla, the flat plain of central Mallorca in Algaida, about 15 miles east of Palma, and the wheat beer from the Talaiòtika brewery in Porreres, a small town in the middle of Mallorca. Watch out, however, for at least one fake: Moli Balear, or "Balearic mill," a wheat beer that carries a drawing of a typical Mallorcan windmill on the label, is actually brewed in Belgium.



Beer Lovers Brewery is scarcely recognizable from the outside. Formerly a barn, the structure has been in the family for 300 years.


(Photos courtesy of Martyn Cornell)

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