Tag Archives: beer

Cerveza / Cerveja – Beer from Spain and Portugal

The start of summer grilling season is here and cooking over a fire is thirsty work so make sure you have plenty of refreshing Spanish and Portuguese beer on hand. Beer makes a wonderful accompaniment to cooking, even if you have plans to drink wine with the meal (when visiting the Bodegas in Spain the winemakers always say “Before we try the wines, would you like a beer?”). We have a new reach-in refrigerator in Berkeley so now we are keeping all the beer cold and ready to drink. Here are a few suggestions to get you going:

Sagres is the most popular beer in Portugal. This lager style beer is refreshing and crisp. It features predominantly at the various Portuguese festas that take place all across California in the summer and is almost mandatory if you are grilling up some fresh sardines in the Portuguese style. Available in 6 packs of glass bottles or single half liter cans.

Catalunya’s largest brewery, Damm, recently released a new beer designed by Chef Ferran Adria and his team of sommeliers from El Bulli restaurant. The end result of two years of experimentation is Estrella Damm Inedit. Made in a style resembling Belgian wit beers or one of our domestic hefeweizen wheat beers, Inedit is a cloudy amber color with creamy texture and yeasty flavor adding context to lightly spicy notes of citrus peel, coriander and clove. Craft brew lovers will appreciate this unique style of Spanish beer sold in  full sized 750 ml bottles.

Daura is the gluten free version of Estrella Damm. This golden lager style beer, made with barley instead of wheat,  is crisp and refreshing. It currently holds the title of “best gluten free beer in the world”. Try it with your favorite tapas for a refreshing taste of Catalunya. 4 packs of 11.2 oz bottles.

3 Comments

Filed under beer, Portugal, Spain

Cerveza y Fútbol

Here at The Spanish Table in Berkeley we are all very excited for oh-so-many reasons.
Yes, Spain is playing in the final of the World Cup this Sunday. Even though some of us here have no Spanish ancestry, everyone at The Spanish Table is proud of the Spanish culture we represent (are all sports heroes Spanish these days? Nadal. Contador. Gasol. The list grows by the day).
Another exciting thing happening here (and this ties into the World Cup in a big way for those who plan to watch and, hopefully, celebrate) is our growing assortment of Spanish beer.  We just received several new brands of Spanish Cerveza that we are happy to announce today. Check out our newest Spanish brews as well as a few trusty favorites and come stock up for Sunday. Fandom is such thirsty work.


Moritz This once proud brewer in Barcelona was shuttered for decades before the descendants of the original Moritz family re-launched this brand in 2004. Now it is featured all across Barcelona and is one of my favorite forms of refreshment when I am in that very beer-centric town. This foamy lager style beer is crisp and hoppy with a lightly bitter finish that adds a bit of distinct style to this Catalan brew. $12.99/6 pack

Estrella Damm Daura The biggest brewer in Catalunya is Estrella Damm and they have recently come out with this gluten-free version of their most popular beer. Made with barley malt, this golden lager with a bit of corn-like flavor has twice been twice awarded as “best gluten-free beer” at the World Beer Awards. Spanish Table Berkeley employee and resident gluten-free expert Andre Ferreira has been buying it all up but we restocked for the big game this weekend so there should be enough for everyone. $8.99/4pack

Estrella Damm Inedit The new beer from Estrella Damm designed by Ferran Adria and the crew from El Bulli is back in stock. This Belgian style Wit beer is cloudy amber in color with a clove/nutmeg spiciness to give it distinct character. This special beer comes in a 750 ml bottle with a full color brochure attached to the neck that suggests serving it in a wine glass and storing it in an ice bucket while drinking. $10.99/750 ml

Estrella Damm
The BBOC (Big Beer of Catalunya), this popular lager is fast becoming our number one selling Spanish brew. Frothy golden refreshment with a touch of sweetness and a crisp finish is what you get from Estrella Damm. It is showing up in bars and restaurants around town and is now also available in 6 packs for home use.
$9.99 /6 pack

Alhambra From Granada in southern Spain, this refreshing lager will be familiar to anyone who has travelled in that part of the world. This foamy golden beer will certainly do what beer does best which is to refresh the drinker on a hot day. Crisp, malty goodness.
$12.99/6 pack

Vino de Aguja

For years we have searched in vain for the lightly spritzy white wine called Blanc Pescador that has livened up countless Spanish beach parties. They call it “Vino de Aguja” (needle wine) for its prickly effervescence. Now, in answer to our wishes we have just received not only the traditional Blanc Pescador but also the rosado version called Cresta Rosa and the afrutado (lightly sweet) version called Cresta Azul. These wines just arrived today so they are not yet available on-line but we will add them to the web site soon. Meanwhile, I want to let you know that they are here (and all priced at $9.99 per bottle) just in case your plans for this weekend include any type of celebration with a Spanish theme.

1 Comment

Filed under beer, events, rosado, White Wine

WPLJ

One of the big differences between this newsletter and a blog(note: this was written before transferring everything to this format) is that you the readers do not get to comment on what I write and have it posted alongside my weekly ramblings. Occasionally a reader responds to something I’ve written, adding context or perspective that I had not considered, leading me to share their insights with the rest of you. This was the case last week when Jim Kaatz commented on my ‘Portonic’ cocktail recipe. He asked, “Have you ever heard the Mother’s of Invention (Frank Zappa) song WPLJ (white port and lemon juice)? I always thought they were kidding! I guess not!”

Ah yes, Frank Zappa. His name, like a pebble tossed into the cloudy pool of my personal memory, creates concentric waves of nostalgia. Growing up in Atlanta Georgia in the 1970s, high school would have been less educational and much duller without Frank Zappa’s articulate rebelliousness and mind-blowing electric guitar solos (an irresistible combination for just about every teenaged male born in the last fifty years). I had forgotten that MPLJ was the first track off of his 1970 album Burnt Weenie Sandwich. But ‘FZ’ (fanboys called him that even before we ourselves were called ‘fanboys’), genius composer that he was, did not actually write MPLJ.

A quick search of the internets (ain’t modern life grand?) reveals that MPLJ does indeed stand for White Port and Lemon Juice, the favorite drink of the original composer, ‘Lord’ Luther McDaniels who originally recorded the song back in 1956 (here in Berkeley, no less) with his short-lived doo-wop group called The Four Deuces. Before Zappa covered the song in 1970 the original version was used as the jingle for Italian Swiss Colony wines (another cue for nostalgia) to sell their, you guessed it, white port.

After the Zappa version came out in 1970, the New York radio station WABC changed their name to WPLJ and featured the kind of music, ‘album oriented rock’, or AOR in radio lingo, that I loved during that time (Eagles, Led Zeppelin, Electric Light Orchestra and so on), but I didn’t grow up in New York so that is perhaps more of a topic for someone else.

Type WPLJ into youtube (we didn’t have that back in the 70s, let me tell you) and you can listen to both versions of this classic song (the links, for the search-impaired are http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GNA-jRm-nvQ for the original, and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLFjkEpwGfE&feature=related for the Zappa cover). 

Many thanks to Jim Kaatz for starting me down this path of internet fueled remembrance. Also, though Frank Zappa is no longer with us, ‘Lord Luther’ is supposedly (if the internet, source of all wisdom, can be trusted) still making music and living in Salinas, just as he did fifty years ago as a younger man singing with The Four Deuces.

But I digress. What is new in the wine world at The Spanish Table? Plenty, but this week only some of it is actually wine. I am very excited to (finally) report that we have secured a supply of Basque apple cider at an excellent price. We also have Spanish and Portuguese beer, new Manzanilla Sherry and a sparkling white wine from Portugal that is growing in popularity with each passing week. And, yes, we have plenty of white Port and more new wines for summertime sipping too, so whatever your personal preferences are beverage-wise, come visit and see what’s happening here in the heart of Berkeley, home of great things to eat, drink and sing about.

“Well I feel so good, I feel so fine
I got plenty lovin’, I got plenty wine
White Port & Lemon Juice,
White Port & Lemon Juice,
I said White Port & Lemon Juice,
Ooh what it do to you!”

Bereziartua Apple Cider Many of us have been waiting for years to get our hands on some genuine Basque sidra. This hard cider is unfiltered, cloudy, lightly effervescent and only barely sweet. Yeasty aroma and tart fermented apple flavor are what you want from this most ancient of drinks. In the Basque Country they drink it straight from the barrel from harvest time through the winter and then in spring and summer they drink the rest from bottles like those we have just received. When this stuff becomes wildly popular, remember, you heard it here first. $8.99

Estrella Galicia Beer When visiting wineries in Spain I often get the same bizarre sounding question. “Would you like a beer before we taste the wines?” Traveling in Spain can be hot, thirsty work, so this is actually a reasonable way to proceed. While Spain has many excellent beers, this excellent lagar from Galicia is currently the only Spanish beer available here in California. Blonde color, yeasty aroma and crisp flavor are just what you want after a hot day to reawaken the appetite. $10.99 (6 pack)

Sagres Beer In Portugal, this is a major brand. Sagres is served everywhere. This classic lagar style brew is crisp and light with clean hoppy flavor. It makes a perfect accompaniment to a classic Portuguese sardine sandwich. $7.99 (6 pack)

Luis Pato Espumante Bruto I mentioned this wine a few weeks ago. We ran out for a brief period, but it is now in stock once again. This is the first Portuguese sparkling wine to arrive here at The Spanish Table. Luis Pato, the celebrated and somewhat controversial wine maker works in the Beiras region of Portugal. This sparkling wine is made mostly from the Maria Gomes grape and (starting with this bottling) also includes 5% Arinto in the blend. Lean toasty aroma and tart, leesy fruit character combine with frothy effervescence to create a uniquely refreshing wine. $15.99

San León Manzanilla Clásica Previously unavailable in the USA, San León is a new addition to our selection of Jerez wines. Herederos de Argüeso has been making wine in Jerez since 1822. They produce a full range of Sherry but they specialize in the production of Manzanilla. This wine, with an average age of 8 years, is palest straw colored and full of yeasty, saline aroma (like a fresh sea breeze) and toasted almond and chamomile flavors. If you are a Manzanilla lover this is an excellent new wine to add to your list. If you have not yet had a chance to try this most distinctive Spanish wine, this is the perfect place to start. $12.99 (375ml)

Leave a comment

Filed under beer, Portugal, Spain, White Wine