Craft beer in Spain: Brewery visits in the Basque Country
The Basque Country, located by the Biscay Bay and in the western Pyrenees is a unique corner of Europe, and covers areas on both sides of the French-Spanish border. The region is famous for the Basque culture and language, strikingly beautiful nature with stunning coastal landscapes and rolling green hills, as well as of vibrant cities and amazing gastronomy.
Basqueland Brewing has been producing quality artisan beers in Hernani, a small town very close to the famous San Sebastian, since 2015. Basqueland has grown rather quickly, gained reputation in Spain and beyond, and nowadays delivers beers across the EU. They started as a nomad brewery, but with an ambitious plan and clear goal to gather together proper investors, both local and from the US, where one of the founders is from, and to establish their own brewery.
In 2019 the production volume was already 400 000 liters, and even if the pandemic times have been challenging, the volume is growing and the extension of the production facility more than doubles the former capacity way over 1 000 000 liters per year. Basqueland Brewing distributes a lot of beer via their own online shop and via other online beer stores. They also have a popular taproom in the brewery, great for having super fresh craft beer in house or as take away, and in San Sebastian they have a tavern restaurant called Basqueland Izakaia, that serves not just craft beers but also Asian cuisine and organic wines. Basqueland beers are of course available also in several craft beer oriented pubs and stores.
Award-winning ambassadors of the Basque Country
Basqueland states that they are proud to be ambassadors for the Basque community and to be pioneers in pairing Basque culinary experiences with craft beer. Being one of the first and one of the best-known artisan breweries of the area, Basqueland is a flag-bearer for not just local craft beer but also the culture of the Basque Country overall.
Tasting Basqueland beers
The first beer that we ever tasted from Basqueland was their tasty flagship IPA Imparable, and since then we have tried several brews, both core and limited editions, and all of them have been delicious. Below short reviews of some of our favorites – the article continues below the reviews.
Cream of Galaxy (ABV 6,5 %) is a NEIPA with a lovely tropical aroma with mango and other ripe fruits, orange too, and some piney notes. Silky mouthfeel, medium bitterness, balanced, smooth. Delicious!
Peanut Butter Prophecy (ABV 11,5 %) Imperial Pastry Stout is a delicious dessert treat! This silky brew is a collaboration with Great Notion Brewing. Liquid chocolate with coffee, alcohol and peanut butter. Strong, not overly sweet, dark, roasted, smooth but also somewhat bitter.
Drunken Bros Brewery
On our way to San Sebastian, we stopped shortly in Bilbao to visit Drunken Bros Brewery and taproom, a few kilometres from the Bilbao city center, in Zamudio municipality. This was a very interesting visit, since Drunken Bros had just recently jumped from being a nomad brewery (since 2013) to brewing in their own brewery. In late May they were brewing the first beers in the new premises, and had just recently opened a taproom right next to the brewery.
Drunken Bros has a wide range of artisan beers in their selection, and they like to combine music and beer, which is visible in the labels and the names of the beers. A great example of this is their Memorial Series – a series of craft beers (mostly IPA’s) dedicated to legends. Of this series we liked the BB Coffee Stout a lot! Drunken Bros beers are available around Spain, but the best place to taste them is of course the taproom of the brewery, so when you are traveling to Bilbao next time, check the place out!
Other interesting microbreweries in the Basque Country
As said, there are several artisan breweries in the Besque Country. A couple of years ago we visited Basquery Brewpub in Bilbao, check out a short introduction of Basquery in a separate article. The list of interesting Basque breweries that we haven’t yet had a chance to visit is quite long, as the craft beer culture of the area is blooming. There are a couple of big, also internationally known names in addition to Basqueland; Laugar Brewery in Gordexola and Gross Brewery in San Sebastian.
Laugar was founded in 2013 and has an impressive selection of craft beers including strong, delicious imperial stouts in their Dark Side series and juicy and bitter IPAs in their Hoppy Side series. Also Gross started launching beers in 2013, and their brewery and taproom is located in the Barrio of Igara in San Sebastian – for sure a great place to taste hoppy IPAs and other fresh Gross craft brews.
Furthermore, the interesting breweries of the area include at least Bidassoa Basque Country in Irún, near the French border, Mala Gissona with a brewery in Oiarzun and a beer house & restaurant in San Sebastian, as well as BÝRA, that offers their equipment and capacity also for nomad breweries, in Vitoria-Gasteiz. In Navarre region, that is also part of the greater Basque culture region, there is Saltus Brewing, located in Aizoáin close to Pamplona.
Have you tasted craft beer in the Basque Country? Do you have a favorite brewery in the area, or maybe some breweries to add in our list of interesting artisan breweries in the Basque Country? Leave a comment below!
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