Ales and Tales

Our branch magazine, Ales and Tales, is distributed to 200 pubs within the branch areas of Stourbridge & Halesowen and Dudley branches. If you would like to contribute an article or pub and brewery news please contact Lizzie on moc.liamtoh@700hplarhtebazile

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Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit – Seville and Malaga- Steve James (with thanks to Dick James for the photos)

In the past, many beer enthusiasts have thought of Spain as something of a beer desert – the best you could get was a good glass of San Miguel. But when you’re lying on a hot, sunny beach on the Costa del Sol, an ice-cold glass of lager certainly hits the spot. However, like other southern European countries, Spain has recently seen a virtual explosion of micro-breweries and craft beer, with a wide range of light and dark beers now available in many towns and cities.
We decided to check what is on offer on a recent New Year trip to Seville and Malaga. Seville is one of Spain’s most historic cities, with its tourist attractions of the Giralda Cathedral, Alcazar Royal Palace and Torre de Oro, along with the River Guadalquivir and the cobbled streets of the old town. But now you can add micro-breweries, craft beer and beer cafés to the list.
Seville Oranges We started our exploration at the unprepossessing Lupulopolis beer shop, up a side street in Calle Jose Gestoso. Named after the Spanish word for hops, it has a wide selection of locally brewed bottled beers, with artisan beers from all over Spain, along with the odd beer on draught. You can sit on a tiny stool to sample the beers, including some fine Spanish dark beers. One of the most memorable beers was a 18O whisky oatmeal stout, but probably the most unusual beer was Cervezas Domus Crème Cerveza, a Baileys-type sweet cream beer with hops and beer in the ingredients. Expensive, but lovely!
We then went around the corner to the Red House Art & Food bar in Calle Amor de Dios. This is a contemporary beer café, in the “deconstructed art” style, complete with tables made out of wooden doors, exposed pipes and cracked concrete. It offers a good range of bottled Spanish craft beers and a rotating selection of local brews on draught. We sampled Cantabrian brewer DouGall’s finely balanced Pale Ale and a foamy Cartujana APA. A short distance away is one of the best beer cafés in town, the Maquila bar, on Calle Delgado. This is the only true brew-pub in town, where they brew a range of Son beers, most of which are available on draught. Other draught beers are available from regional Spanish brewers, and the impressive food menu offers tasty food with a distinctly Andalusian touch. We certainly enjoyed the Son Black Catrina.

Taberna Maquila brew-pub, Seville
Oranges in Seville New Year’s Eve saw many of the local bars closed, but we found the Cerverceria Internacional open in Calle Gamazo. Standing room only in this crowded bar, focusing on imported beers, with about 15 beers on tap and over 250 bottled beers to wash down the traditional Andalusian tapas snacks. We sampled a glass of Leffe Brun and Delirium Tremens Christmas Ale. Next day, after a cruise on the river and a tour on the open-top bus (an excellent way to see the city and orientate yourself), we continued our beer exploration. First on the list was the Guevara & Lynch bar on Calle Viriato (watch the sat-nav, because it’s actually on Calle Madre de la Purisma which seems to have been renamed!) This a modern bar, with friendly staff and a great variety of tapas and larger meals. But we were here for the beer, with a good range on draught, and the DouGall Imperial Stout and Guervera & Lynch Saison IPA were particularly enjoyable.

Cerverceria Internacional, Seville
Seville Oranges There are several other craft beer bars in Seville, but due to the erratic opening hours (many do not open until the afternoon and some don’t open at all during public holidays), we weren’t able to visit them. However, we did find the Al Andalus bar open, on the eastern side of the river in Vicente Flors Navarro. This friendly bar offers some of the best regional beers from Cordoba, Cadiz, Seville and Granada, along with a range of imported bottled beers. We also had a day out to Cadiz, an historic port town, famous for its links to Christopher Columbus. Here, close to the railway station, we found the Beer Cabin, the outlet for the locally brewed Maier beers. A food menu of American, Mexican, Peruvian and French favourites is offered to go down well with more than 40 local, regional and international beers, with most of the full range of Maier beers on draught. We spent a happy hour or so talking with one of the brewers, sampling the range of locally brewed beers, including Cream Ale, Especial Brown Ale, Imperial IPA, Lola and American Pale Ale.

As most of us live in the West Midlands, we reached Seville via a flight from Birmingham to Malaga. This gave a short time to sample the local beers and bars on offer in this coastal town. We started off by following the long road around the northern edge of the old town (Calle de la Carreteria) between the River Guadalmedina and the castle. First, we visited La Madriguera craft beer bar (roughly translated as “rabbit warren” in Spanish) to sample their five locally-brewed draught beers, including La Madriguera Cream Ale and Cerveza Malaqa. One of the lady partners of the brewery is so committed to brewing beer that she has tattoos on her fingers; on one hand the word “BEER” and on the other symbols for water, hops, malt and yeast! A short distance away is Central Beers, a modern beer café, with a wide selection (15) of local and imported draught beers and a 100 or so bottled beers. The staff are very helpful and knowledgeable about the range of beers on offer, and there is a good basic food menu, with hamburgers etc. We enjoyed glasses of Barnett & Son Oatmeal Stout and Destraperlo Negra. In the Plaza de la Merced is the Cerveceria Arte & Sante, a rather contemporary and “minimalist” beer café, which offers locally brewed La Malaqa draught beers and imports from other European breweries such as Mikeller and Scottish Brewdog. A very cosmopolitan bar, with folks from as far as field as the 2017 City of Culture (Hull), Colombia and Australia. We enjoyed the company, and the beers, including Cerveza Malaqa Kernel Panic, Brown Ale, Bootlegger and Mk Ultra 128482. The following day we had a day-out along the Costa del Sol to Fuengirola. Even here there is a craft beer bar at the far end of the town. Woods Bar, on Calle Churruca, offers a range of bottled beers from Cerveza Malaqa, and we spent a pleasant hour sitting outside in the sunshine sampling some of them. Back in Malaga, we found the Cerveceria Het Beste Biertje in Calle Trinidad Grund. As the name might suggest, this beer café focuses on imported Belgian beers, and I can certainly recommend the bitterballen (crispy beef and potato croquettes). We washed these down with glasses of Malasombre Porter and Tongerlo Christmas Winter Ale. Our final bar was a fairly new brew-pub, El Rincon del Cervecero in the heart of Malaga’s Soho district. We spent some time talking to the brewer, David, who is passionate about craft beer, and offers brewing courses for both beginners and advanced home-brewers. We were spoilt for choice, but managed to sample glasses of La Reine del Soho (APA) ad Buen Karma (IPA).

Het Beste Biertje, Malaga
Steve James And what about the oranges? Well, Seville is famous for its bitter-sweet oranges, a key ingredient in the well-known marmalade. While we were having an “emergency” ice-cold Cruzcampo beer and a cremated burger in a small square in the sunshine, we noticed that we were sitting under a group of orange trees. One of the taller members of our party was keen to make a closer inspection, and soon afterwards, back at home, a handful of these oranges was eventually transformed into delicious jars of home-made genuine Seville orange marmalade!
Cervezas y aplausos! (Beers and cheers)