Gastronómica La Socarrada

Alarm. Shake the sleepy heads awake. Coffee. Pack the rucsac. Out the door, floor the hire car. Sóller, a fast walk to the train station. Ensaïmada for the family. Find an empty carriage.

Palma, just waking up. Wander aimlessly in the direction of the cathedral. A short queue, didn’t need my long trousers after all. A kaleidoscope of stained glass colour on the floor. Endless reportage opportunities.

Banys Arabs, sounds of a Hang floating round the courtyard. Is that it? Glad the kids were free. Back on the streets. I’m hungry! When’s lunch?

Spying a sign proclaiming lots of beer. Some interesting bottles on some shelves. All is not what it seems, industrial mixed with craft, or is it all crafty?

It’s a burger joint, they do a veggie? In we go. Hoping they’re good. Should’ve just had the chips, Pak Choi doesn’t work if you’re not using cutlery.

The beer contains rosemary and rosemary honey, hoping it’s not like Saison du Buff. The herb garden it’s not, thankfully. Subtle rosemary on the nose, like brushing a bush on the way past.

Thick, not cloying. Effervescent, bubbly. Refreshing, but not. Need some water. I’d have another.

Out onto the street again. Find the No. 3 bus stop kid’s. Miró awaits.

Balearis Estiu

Up, out into the garden, witness some fitness. Sweaty. Bag some lunch, some kids and head off into the heat. A beach, a rock, jump, repeat. Too many people to leave the bag unattended. I sit, slowly melting.

Another beach, even busier. Still can’t leave the bags. Hunt for a postage stamps worth of shade. Break out the Kindle.

Head for the lighthouse, the tip of the island. Selfies with the kids. Laugh at the fake insta-lifstyle lady and her cameraman bloke. €19 for three drinks and three lollies, past caring.

Into an Eroski on the way home, water, water, everywhere. Spy a bottle with an interesting label, where are its pack mates? Grab it anyway, gagging for a beer.

Drive, petrol, drive, villa. Fall in the pool, blessed relief at last. Interesting label into the freezer, it’s filtered. Shower, dinner, beer? Can’t be arsed, water.

Cluedo Suspect, after dinner games. Finally feel bothered for a beer. The pour, the unmistakable aroma of a lager. The unremarkable taste of yet another lager.

Grainy, not grassy. Lacking bite. Thirsty after all, practically gone before the cards are dealt. I win. Is this beer better than Estrella, Mahon, or any of the other industrials so far?

Does it win? Maybe I should’ve picked up more cheap Urquell in Lidl.

La Sagra Blanca de Trigo

Exploding Kittens, after dinner games. After dinner drinks. A smart looking bottle, I looked twice in the supermarket, is it craft or is it crafty?

It’s not memorable whatever it is. The glass is finished. I explode, unable to defuse. The kids in bed, more Wee Free Men. More silly Scottish voices. Wishing the beer had spoken Spanish, rather than bland.

Off to bed.

La Sagra Burro de Sancho

Dinnertime, that curry. It’s not very curry like, not enough spice. No heat. Turns out the yoghurt had sugar in it. A beer to drink with dinner?

Let’s try the BrewDog wannabe. Full on old skool BrewDog branding. No shame. Another idiot donkey on the label. What is it with donkeys?

All style, no substance. It’s not bad, it’s just bland, forgettable. Just like the curry.

Maybe it’s the wrong time of day. Maybe it’s the wrong setting. Maybe I’m looking for positives trying to be nice.

Or, just don’t use old skool BrewDog branding, without using old skool BrewDog flavour.

Tyris Original

Curry for dinner, shame there’s no curry paste. Half remembered Spice Tailor recipes, what’s in the fridge? Cauliflower, squash, lentils, is there anything else?

The hob is so slow, I could grow a beard. Come on! Halogen crap, once you have induction, everything else is rubbish.

Is there another beer? Take the next on the shelf without looking. A blonde from Valencia. Won a Bronze at this years Barcelona Beer Challenge, how?

The curry is finally ready. The beer long gone. What did it taste like? Can’t remember. Innocuous, forgettable. I hope the curry is better.

La Gardènia Carmen White IPA

In Lidl getting supplies, wondering how people manage to shop with this kind of nonsensical layout. Cheap Pilsner Urquell, a few go in the trolley. A different aisle, different beer, cerveza artesanal, one of each will do. Is it Majorcan? Does it matter?

Another day, a market, melting in the heat. Seemingly endless. Street after street after street after street. Stalls full of tat I don’t want and won’t buy.

Finally back at the villa, a late lunch. Time for some sun, Will you come in the pool with us Dad? No, I need a bit of peace and quiet, give me an hour. Has it been an hour yet Dad? When are you coming in the pool Dad?

Slick and sweaty from an hour in the sun, time for a beer. A White IPA, but it’s been filtered, clean as a whistle. One dimensional, just like the kids demands in the pool. Throw me Dad! Jump in with me Dad?

All coriander. Citrus and yeast missing in action. No bitterness, just disappointment. Time to get out of the pool and cook dinner.

La Terca Negra

Back into the ice cream shop. La Terca Negra por favor. Outside the drums have awoken, dark, brooding, tribal. The Dimonis march off to elsewhere, breathing room.

A dark beer for white clad demons. A touch thin, for all that treacle. At home, it would be a fire and baffies. In the plaça, it’s heat and noise. It works.

Drink up, the drums are approaching. Too strong to neck without consequences. No time for slow contemplation. Sparks fly.

The children and their bangers are gone. The “adults” have taken on over. Clad like they’re off to a G8 riot, soaked in water. Dancing under the relentless cascade of golden fire. Dancing to the beat of the Demonis and the drums.

Emboldened by dark beer, come an kids. Closer, sparks flying, ears ringing. The finale, fire raining down all round the plaça. Kids, adults, all cowering in corners, brushing burning embers from clothing.

Still the drums beat.

La Terca Rubia

The main plaça, bangers going off left, right and centre. Small ones, big ones, huge ones, nerves fraying, children crying. Into the ice cream shop, they sell local craft beer.

Two bottles of the blue one with the donkey, London murky in Majorca. One doesn’t taste right, grainy. The other is soft, beguiling, gone almost before realising it. Gin i tonica to replace the duff bottle, don’t buy me anymore craft beer.

Why is there such a variation between bottles? Bad production standards? Shoddy storage? The stifling heat, even at 23:45?

No time to ponder cerveza artesanal Mallorquí production standards. Beer gone. People everywhere, tension, expectation. Still the bangers bang. Demonis congregating, time for another.

Sullerica Blanca

A slow start to a hot day. Port de Sóller really isn’t than nice, heat radiating from all the concrete. Fleeced on the tourist tram, was it worth it for the kids? Possibly.

Cala Deià, that restaurant from The Night Manager, salty sea, scorching sun. The Cami des Ribassos back to Deià, a cafe, S’Hortet, with a garden and local craft beer.

Draft craft has just finished, Estrella? The one with the orange blossom too. Damn. Others in the fridge, not for me though, driving. Can I buy to take away?

Back at the villa, wash the kids. Eat dinner so late it’s like we’re natives; Ottolenghi is not just for home. Beer time, finally, just before we head off into town.

A white beer, local Lemons. A touch too much carbonation. Refreshing, but glad I didn’t add all the yeast. A beer to quench the afternoon heat.

Nearly time for the Correfoc fireworks and Dimonis. Definitely time for another beer, one more suited to the sultry evening.

Brasserie Larché

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, we stopped overnight at Beaune on our way to our villa near the south coast of France. The Carrefour there seems to have been an aberration, as none of the other supermarché we visited appeared to have any local beer, yet here was beer from not one, but two local microbreweries.

This, unfortunately, gave a false impression of what we’d find for the rest of the three weeks in France. It was pretty much as expected, just familiar major brand beer from the multinationals. We didn’t get the chance to stop anywhere in the North of the country, where it may be different, but in the South two years ago, it was pretty much a good beer desert.

I have no idea why Brasserie Larché have Thomas Becket branding all over their beer and their website isn’t exactly a mine of information on the matter either. The history of a 12th century Archbishop of Canterbury doesn’t really interest me in any way, but it does seem a bit bizarre for a French microbrewery to use it for their branding.

In a similar manner to the Brasserie de Vézelay beers, the Carrefour had loads of these beers, both in 330ml and 750ml bottles. As I picked these up on the way back home, I couldn’t afford to buy them all in 750ml bottles. I would have preferred to, as I think beer tastes better out of a bigger bottle; something to do with beer conditioning better in larger volumes.

As is my want, I started with the blanche, It poured a slightly hazey, light straw colour, with a fluffy white head. The head dropped to a good covering fairly quickly. There wasn’t much on the nose, in that it wasn’t very aromatic. Taking in a lungful brought some lemony aromas and might be hint of spice.

It felt a touch over carbonated in the mouth, as there was quite a lot of mouth prickle from the carbonation, which was also feeding the head. It was quite pleasant tasting though, light in the mouth with some nice lemony, orange type citric flavours. There wasn’t really anything in the way of spice though, at least not that I could detect, not that it mattered. It was just a nice and pleasant beer that slipped down easily and quickly.

The blonde poured a slightly hazy amber colour, with a good, slightly off white head. The head dropped to a covering fairly quickly. The nose wasn’t very powerful, I didn’t get an awful lot to be honest, other than a slight sweet yeastiness. My wife on the other hand got honey and all sorts and upon inspection of the label, we were delighted to discover that it’s secondary fermented in the bottle with honey; thus proving she has a far superior olfactory system than me.

In the mouth is was pretty full bodied and quite sweet. An initial mouth prickle from the carbonation gave way to barrage of sweet malt and honey flavours. These carried on long into the aftertaste, with a distinct sweet honey flavour asserting itself at the death. There was some bitterness that was evident in the middle, that was desperately trying to keep everything in check and while it just about managed it, it succumbed to the sweetness.

I thought it was OK, my wife really liked it and after a couple of gulps, offered to finish it off.

When the cork came out of the bottle of l’embrasée (the burning) there was quite a loud phzzzzt, so I was quite surprised when the contents didn’t come flying out of the bottle too. It poured a chestnut brown, with a very loose tan coloured head. The head was very, very easily formed, but didn’t last and dropped to a ring around the edge of the glass pretty quickly.

I didn’t really get anything on the nose at all, maybe the hint of some stewed plums or something like that, but that was about it. It was ridiculously lively in the mouth, turning to bubbles on the tongue almost immediately. While there was a certain bitterness to it, it didn’t feel particularly bitter, but I think the carbonation was scrubbing most of it from the mouth. Other than that, it mainly tasted of rich stewed fruit, in a good way though, like from a rumtopf.

The ambrée poured a slightly haze light marmalade colour, with a slightly off white cream coloured head. The head dropped to a good half finger fairly quickly, but lasted from there quite well. There was a definite note to the aroma, I’m not sure I can describe it. It didn’t feel like it was from the malt or the hops and I think the back label says it had honey in it, so it might have been from that.

It was quite effervescent in the mouth, almost turning to foam as it scoured the tongue with a carbonic edge. Sweet malt flavours, with a slightly grainy edge, lead to a sweet drying finish. It didn’t feel bitter, it might have been the carbonic scouring at the start, stripping the bitterness, but it felt like there was some there, just not up front. A bit disappointing really.

Finally, the brune poured a deep chestnut brown, with a good tan coloured head. The head dropped fairly quickly to a patchy covering and then a few splodges round the edge of the glass. There wasn’t a lot on the nose, some brown malt notes, but nothing powerful.

In the mouth it was all about the malt flavours, at least once you got past the slight over carbonation. An initial prickle of bitterness gave way to a rising sweet, dark fruity maltiness that lingered long into the, slightly drying aftertaste. I didn’t think it was too bad.

I found it interesting that, while Brasserie de Vézelay had modern, clean branding and Brasserie Larché had, what I’d term, more traditional, messier branding, they both pretty much brewed the same styles of beer. A blanche, blonde, ambrée and a brune; it’s a bit like traditional British breweries all doing a mild, bitter, best bitter and stout. I wonder if the French have similar stylistic straightjackets that they feel they have to produce the same styles of beer.