Article for Somerset’s Pints of View – Stowey Brewery Spanish Ale

In April and June 2018 Ian and Lynne from the Stowey Brewery travelled to northern Spain to walk the Camino de Santiago, a five hundred mile trek to find the supposed resting place of St James the Apostle. Whilst many make this pilgrimage for religious reasons, Ian and Lynne had other thoughts on their minds – beer.

Spain, like most European countries, is seeing a nascent craft beer culture appear, especially in the larger towns, with at least one micropub tucked way serving an alternative to the Estrellas and San Miguels that have for so long dominated the market.Spanish Hop Fields

During the 500 mile walk Ian and Lynne came across half a dozen towns and cities with craft ale bars run by friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic owners and staff. The American hoppy pale ales were much in evidence as were rich stouts and porters which complemented the large array of tapas on offer in this northern part of Spain. There were also the quirky beers, ultra-strong IPAs at 9% plus with names like ‘Liquid Fear’ and one called ‘Basil is the New Orange’ which brought back fond memories of Bronnley soap so loved by great aunts in the 1970s.

What did surprise the brewers were the number of hop farms they across during the walk. These were often newly planted and our curiosity led them to contacting one such farm in the Órbigo Valley – The Spanish Yard. Run by the Oscars (Grande and Muñoz), these two entrepreneurs are growing mainly US West Coast hops for the UK market and were very generous in letting the brewery have some commercial samples to try.

Once home the Stowey Brewery were keen to get these hops into the brewing vessels and started with a Columbus and Summit combination with the aim of producing an American style pale with a Spanish twist.

And the result – just watch the video …