Beery Christmas: La Virgen Rauchbier
La Virgen, the brewery in the heart of Madrid
Right in the center of the Spanish capital, there is La Virgen brewery, which allows to satisfy all the passers-by with refreshing lagers during the summer, or to offer richer and stronger beers during the winter. Before being in the hearts of all Spaniards, La Virgen was the project of three beer-loving friends: Ana, César and Jaime. At the beginning, nothing predestined them to project themselves in the world of beer, especially since they met in an advertising agency in San Francisco. If the idea starts to take shape in their minds in 2009, it is really the following year in 2010 that they leave America for Madrid. From then on, the machine is launched and everything follows very quickly, since they will found their brewery and their first brewpub in only one year! That same year in 2011, they also released their first brew, a lager, blonde, malty and thirst-quenching with a low alcohol content.
In 2012, they open the first plant that makes no less than 1000 liters, to follow two years later, and produce over 200,000 liters of beer. You can imagine that it starts to make a lot, hence the interest to move the following year in 2015 in a factory capable of producing more than one million liters. Of course the Spanish are thirsty, but to sell a million liters, you still have to go! As a result, La Virgen's beers are more widely exported and production is approaching 4 million liters per year.
Today, La Virgen has a team of over 50 people working together to spread good craft beer around the world, for the betterment of the craft beer community. For our tenth annual Beery Christmas advent calendar, the Spanish brewery La Virgen has concocted a Rauchbier that you won't soon forget!
Rauchbier tasting by La Virgen
Beware, if you have never tasted a smoked beer of the famous Rauchbier style, you are in for a shock! The smoked beer owes its special characteristic to its malts which are generally smoked with beech wood. A technique that will give you the impression of having a beer halfway between sausage and sauerkraut. Yes, it's a little confusing at first. Let's go for it! La Virgen's Rauchbier is a smoked, malty and slightly sweet blond beer. If usually the Rauchbier has a Dunkel or Märzen base, it uses here the Maibock, which is a low fermentation, pale, which makes it a beer easier to drink.
When poured into a glass, you see a light amber color with orange highlights, topped with a fine white head. There are smoky and woody aromas in which we find the sweetness of sweet caramel malt, bitter almond, hazelnut, roasted chestnut or a hint of spices that includes cinnamon and vanilla. These notes will make think of spirits like good old rum. The attack is light in texture but powerful in aroma. Ultra fresh and "drinkable" as the Americans say, it is light and the malt stays on the tongue, sip after sip, bringing a lot of sweetness. The combination of the malts reveals candy rapadura sugar, dark honey, molasses, even a hint of licorice at the end, which supports the smoky flavor present throughout the tasting. The sugar gives a silky finish, slightly nutty/praline, in which we keep the smoky sensation.
During this tasting, some will manage to detect a fruity touch, like cherry in brandy, kirsch, but without the power of alcohol. Overall, this is a really easy to savor beer, with a nice smoky note. The malt counterbalances and brings support and body to the beer. It offers us a round and smoky finish, while remaining refreshing, for a tasting at a temperature of 8°C. It goes very well with a black forest or a cheesecake for pastry lovers. Gruyère cheese, a burger with barbecue sauce or roast chicken for those who like it salty.
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