The fact that wine hosts most Spanish revelries is no secret. And for a beer-lover like me, chancing upon the effervescent beverage in southern Spain’s Andalusia was elusive. Until I spotted the dark pint, prominently labelled ‘Cordobeer’, in a quaint bodega in Córdoba. Soon after, I was initiated into the brand through its wheat variety, the Trigo pint, whose malty aroma and light lacing landed perfectly on my palate and became a quick favourite. There are two other varieties to follow it up with—the fruity Pilsner and the strong, dark IPA.
Launched in 2013, Cordobeer is Lolo Roldán’s craft beer brand that aims to promote beer in Spain and make it as reputable as wine—a drink that can be appreciated by all generations, between friends and in family gatherings.
Cordobeer itself is all of 30, born in a town where the majority population have always known and enjoyed wine. With the youth’s changing preferences, it has begun to find a foothold in town among other microbreweries. “The young people like beer because it’s affordable,” shared a Spanish friend, as we continued on the subject, with our respective pints on the table. “Also because summers can be very hot here. Beer suits the weather. Though I wish they would also indulge in local wines in equal measure,” she said, concerned about the diminishing popularity of wine.
And through the lovely evening that followed, our conversations flowed like butter while my heart secretly wished for the possibility of visiting a microbrewery in town. The following day, my wish came true. As I walked under an overcast sky with the pitter-patter of rain on the cobbled streets of Córdoba, I made my way to a local favourite, Califa (Calle Juan Valera 3; +34-678/428-330). The door opened to reveal a bar counter running across its length, and at its tail end, a downward flight of stairs. The remaining space, occupied by a few tall tables and dark wood stools gave a typical European feel to the pub. The colourful writing on the blackboard against the patent black of the company caught my eye. I read the lists to make a choice and promptly stepped into the basement before placing my order. This was where all the goodness brewed.
Lined with ‘Califa’ labelled cartons, the narrow staircase took me to a crowded and busy space. I walked into one of the three rooms, the ‘labelling and bottling’ section, the other two for brewing and storage. From here, beer was either tapped or bottled, depending on its future use. Their master brewer, Curro, gave me a quick preview of how the brew is poured and stored in the kegs. Making my way back to the bar, I felt somewhat confident that I could now make a sound choice.
And so, I picked the Trigo (once again) for the sake of comparison. This one from the tap was far more delicious than Cordobeer’s. Deep yellow, cloudy in texture, and light in consistency, it had a refreshing taste with malty notes. This is the beer, I realised, that you chug clean in no time.
While the IPA has a clear taste of caramel with toffee-like malt—quite contrasted in its appearance and flavour to the Trigo—not one can come as close a contender as the Sultana, which promises a caramelised taste of dark beer whose aftertaste lingers on.
By the time I was done, I was out of Califa grinning and bidding farewell to my newly-made beer friends. Evidently, I had lost track of the dull day outside and a fuzzy beer contentment had taken over. As I packed up my short stay in Córdoba, I was thankful to the streets that led me to its first craft beer and for discovering the glorious Andalusian wheat beer. I knew I would be back soon. And this time, with the summer sun to complement my mug.
Córdoba was once an important city under the Roman Empire and the capital of the Umayyad Caliphate. Traversing through this medieval city, you will find many gems speaking of its past in hushed tones. Start with the most significant monument in the city: the Great Mosque-Cathedral. This 8th-century mosque is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is a great example of Muslim art in Spain. Also part of the historic centre are the Jewish Quarter and the Muslim Quarter that speak of the city’s multicultural legacy. However, it also has a modern vibe with lively restaurants and bars on the riverfront and around its main square, Plaza de las Tendillas.
You must take a stroll around the Palacio de Viana or Alcázar Viejo district, where beautiful courtyards dominate the landscape. If you visit in May, you will see the city celebrating the Courtyards Festival of Cordoba with music, dance, tapas, and wine.