Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Mediona Artisanal Beer Festival 2008

This year marked the third annual beer festival. It takes place in the quiet village of Sant Joan de Mediona, about 40 minutes from anywhere. Actually, it's about 40 minutes from Sant Sadurni and Vilafranca, which are as close to somewhere as you might hope to be. This year, we were assured by some who attended previous editions, was by far the most organized and with the best displays and beer selection of the the festivals to date. The early morning cloud cover gave way to a spectacular sun which left us slightly singed round the edges, but nothing that didn't wear off after a week or so. In short, it was a perfect day to examine more in depth the wealth of beers available (I counted more than 30 different varieties of Catalan beers).

In addition to the impressive number of Catalan microbreweries we discovered, there were representatives from other regions in Spain like Galicia, as well as Italy and the Cerveteca, which offered an excellent selection of beers hand-picked by Steve Huxley. For those less interested in the fermented drinks section, there was also a lively craft fair and live shows, including music and clowns to keep people of all ages in high spirits. And I must give a hearty thank you to the people running the Barbecue pit who kept us well fed and helped soak up those suds from the ever increasing number of samples. Everthing from hamburgers and butifarra to fruit smoothies were available.

At the end of the day we counted 16 beers among the samples we managed to get down, taking them in threes with a break to clean the palate and maintain semblances of sobriety. Some, like Glops or Cerveceria Montseny, were offering the beers we have come to know and enjoy, with the added bonus of being able to talk to the people who actually make the beers, and it is reassuring to see how their passion burns for what they do. Some of the best new beers we tried came from small producers, local, even home brewers (in at least one case). The Moska brewery in Girona impressed me with their ale, and the Zulogaarden beers (produced for the eponymous bar in Molins de Rei) were fantastic. Marc took home a chocolate stout from Zulogaarden which was absolutely divine. However, for me the winner was AlmogĂ ver's Plata Ale, which is impossible to find outside of craft fairs like this one.

All in all, a fantastic day and a great way to get your feet wet in the blossoming world of Catalan microbrews.

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