Beer Palma, 2018
So, I’m off to Palma for the Beer Palma beer festival and the chance to sample a lot of the local brews in one place. Now, you might think it’s a long way to go for a couple of days at a beer festival, but if you went to the CAMRA one in London, it would take nearly as long and the total cost would be more. Anyway, it’s work, honest.
Day 1: Monday
I fly from Leeds/Bradford on Monday morning and the flight proves to be quite entertaining. Some lads from Halifax who are travelling to Mallorca – they have no idea whereabouts – have met up with a couple of girls looking forward to a few days in “Magga”. They want to sit together, so I gallantly offer to move, but really I have an ulterior motive – it means I get the window seat! The driver, arriving late, had apparently slewed his car up on the airport forecourt and left it, resigned to it being towed away. I am tempted to suggest it may be the subject of a controlled explosion, but think better of it. They begin the holiday on board with a good few drinks. The volume gets higher and the language more choice, but it’s all good-natured. One of the boys makes a quip to which the girl retorts, “Hey, I was born with these teeth!”. She does indeed have a lovely set of gnashers, but I can’t help reflecting that she must have been an odd-looking baby.
Once in Palma, I get off the bus on Passieg Mallorca and it’s a few minutes walk to Hostal Pons. This time, I’m on the top floor. It’s a bit of a climb, but the advantage is that it’s very quiet and the roof-top shower and toilet (bit quirky, yes) next door are virtually ensuite.
From the hotel, it’s only another few minutes to Parc de la Mar, where the beer festival is being held. Could hardly be more convenient. One really couldn’t wish for a better setting – the cathedral on one side and the Med on the other. Tokens are sold in advance at €1 each and the drinks, apart from the strongest, are three tokens for a 33cl glass. Most of the local beers would normally only be found in bottles, but for the event, they are all on draught.
There are a lot of mainland beers and very tempting some of them are, but one can only drink so much (even a seasoned aficionado of my calibre) and my remit is to sample the local brews, so this is what I commence to do. They are all good and typical of the “craft beer” genre, though, to be scrupulously honest, some are a tad boring, whilst others stand out – more on my favourites later.
From Cas Cerveser, I try a Galilea Golden Ale and a really nice Galilea Red Ale. At Beer Lovers, I try a Blat witbier and Bram amber ale. Forastera have hit on the brilliant idea of serving four smaller measures for €4, thus enabling one to try the whole range. Today I have Zulena, Paul Amber Ale, named after the family’s pet dog, Mallorca Pale Ale, and Another F***ing IPA, so named because the brewer was fed up with peope continually asking, “Can you brew another IPA?”!
From Ralf, I have their Tuareg pale ale and from Toutatis, La Fruiteé Belgian style ale.
Most of the representatives speak very good English and there are signs, flyers and even beer names in English, but I do notice a couple of things that have got somewhat lost in translation. Toutatis have a blackboard saying, “Pleased to Beer You!”, whilst Cas Cerveser has a cartoon sheep going “Beeer!”
At 5pm, the sun on the back of my neck is becoming uncomfortable, but by 7pm, the wind blowing off the sea is really cold, so I decide to seek the comfort of a restaurant.
I am keen to try the tasting menu at the eponymously named Adrián Quetglas on Passeig Mallorca, but when I get there, I discover that it’s closed on Mondays (should have checked), so I decide to try Jaime III, a few doors away. When I order the Randemar Tinto, from one of Mallorca’s vineyards, I’m expecting a bottle, but the waitress brings a glass, so I decide it’s probably better. I can always have another, which I do. So, to start, a serving of mixed croquettes and then, for the main, rack of lamb with a green crust, potatoes with Mahón cheese, and a red wine reduction. May not be quite the gastronomic experience I was hoping for, but it’s very good.
Day 2: Tuesday
I know that time goes slowly on the Isla de la Calma, it’s one of its enduring merits, but this is ridiculous. To kill time before the festival opens at 11am, I linger over a coffee on the corner of the Paseo Maritimo – fifteen minutes. I walk the length of the Born and back again – ten minutes! I stroll around the Cathedral – twice- and by 10.50, I decide I may as well just take a seat and wait. Who cares if I look eager?
So, as the stalls begin to open – not exactly on time, in true Spanish style – I sample a Galilea Amber Ale from Cas Cerveser, followed by a Hop IPA from Beer Lovers.
For an early lunch I decide to try the newly-opened gastromic market, Mercat 1930. Whilst termed “markets”, they actually consist of rows of food stalls with tables in the centre, on which to consume one’s purchases. It turns out to be quite a trek, but works out well because whilst I’m inside, true to the forecast, the heavens open, but it’s dried up nicely by the time I leave.
At one stall I choose caracoles, Mallorcan style snails, and tortellitas camarones, shrimp fritters. At the next, I have excellent oysters with a glass of local José Ferrer blanco and guyosas – little fried seafood dumplings. I finish with a montadito de jamón ibérico con alcochofa, canapé of pata negra ham and artichoke.
The food is good, if a little pricey, and it’s worth a visit if you’re in the area, but I think, on balance, Mercat de San Juan is probaly a better choice.
Back at Beer Palma, I try Manaw from Cas Cerveser – an unusual and refreshing beer brewed with lemongrass and lime. From Forastera, I have Bavaria Blonde Lager, Es Blat i S’Ordi wheatbeer, and Punk is Dad IPA (another one obviously named after a family member, who happens to be the brewer). I try Ralf’s Commandante Amber and then at Toutatis, I go for the Carpe Diem Belgian ale and can’t resist the Dark Strong Ale, weighing in at a hefty 9.8%. I then return to Beer Lovers for another Bram – just to make sure.
Happy to strike a pose for me at Toutatis
It had been my intention to spend the whole evening at the festival, having occasional snacks from the various food stalls, but to be quite candid, there isn’t an immense choice and the quality is mediocre. Also, my palate is craving a change and a nice glass of red wine would be in order.
I toy with the idea of Adrián Quetglas, but as I approach Gaudeix on the way, I can’t resist going in. It’s really busy and I get told gruffly that I can only sit at the bar. I think I’m going to get ignored whilst the staff fawn over the German couples, but actually the pleasant barman serves me through the gap between the coffee machine and the wall and it turns out to be quite fun. They have no problem with ordering one dish at a time and each one is brought to my spot with a beaming smile. Even though it’s packed, the food arrives quite quickly.
Last time I was here, I gave it the accolade of being some of the best food I’d ever eaten and tonight doesn’t disappoint. I start with Bacalao con Gulas y Col Morada, salt cod with baby eels and red cabbage followed by Cordero con Algas, lamb with seaweed. I then go for Salmonete con Carbón de Yuca y Mojo de Zanahoria, red mullet with grilled yucca and carrot mojo sauce, and Foie de Pato con Naranja y Vino Tinto, duck liver foie gras with orange and red wine. Washed down with a couple of glasses of local red wine and finished with a hierbas (Mallorcan herb liqueur), this exquiste meal comes in at a very reasonable price. I stroll the couple of hundred yards to the hotel feeling most satisfied.
Day 3: Wednesday
A leisurely coffee in the bar on the corner of the Born. They have no ensaimadas, so I make do with a croissant. A meandering stroll to the bus stop and I arrive at the airport in good time.
In the departure lounge, I’m really thirsty and look at all the people drinking cold beer at the Warsteiner stall, but it’s too early for beer and there’s no seats anyway. I go to a deli opposite and pick up a small bottle of Fanta Orange priced at €4.50, gaze at it for a while and then notice a 440ml can of San Miguel for €4. There’s really no choice, is there?
So to recap, what were my favourite beers? Well, I particularly enjoyed Galilea Red Ale from Cas Cerveser, Blat from Beer Lovers and Paul Amber Ale and Es Blat i S’ordi from Forastera’s, but my Champion Beer was Bram from Beer Lovers. It’s an amber ale which comes in at a satisfying 5.5%. It is made with Pale Ale, Caraamber, Caramunich and Carared malts and Herkules and Celeia hops. To quote from their website, “a full-bodied beer with delicate caramel notes. It is balanced more towards the malts than the hops.” Highly recommended!
My friend Gabriel Goya pouring me a drink at Beer Lovers
Most of the breweries have a bar and some, a visitor’s centre. You can find the beers all over the island, but especially in Palma.
Carrer de la Cisterna 7,
Tel: 678 399 058
Carrer des Sol 27,
Tel: 666 867 744
Av. Constitució 34,
Tel: 633 728 897
Carrer Antoni Monjo s/n,
Maria de la Salut
Tel: 660 804 755
07140 Cas Canar,
Tel: 649 412 338
Calle Can Sales 2,
Tel: 871 231 024
Passeig de Mallorca 14B,
Tel: 971 495 976
Avinguda de Gabriel Roca 33,
Tel: 669 787 804