Sipping a cool beer in the sunshine is many people’s idea of heaven. In fact, it’s probably one of the first things you’ll do when on arrival for your Lanzarote holiday!
Even better if it’s high quality beer, which some would say that they brings certain health benefits .
Discover Lanzarote beer for yourself
The good news is that Lanzarote also has authentic microbreweries that produce around fifteen different types of beer between them. I went out to discover some of them with with Wine Tours Lanzarote, who offer this Craft Beer Tour on Friday afternoons (great timing!).
Ollie and Dan, who run this small, friendly business, will pick you up and drop you off near your accommodation: very handy after tasting seven craft beers in an afternoon! Groups are small so with only nine people, everyone had a chance to savour the beers, ask questions and enjoy a few laughs together.
Los Aljibes de Tahiche
The first microbrewery we visited was Los Aljibes de Tahiche.
As the name suggests, this beer is brewed inside 18th-centuery aljibes (traditional stone water storage vaults). Water has always been scarce in Lanzarote and these tanks have been used for centuries, to capture rainwater and runoff from overnight dew.
The importance of water quality
Today, all water in Lanzarote is desalinated. This has its advantages in that the water is purer, although it also lacks some essential minerals which the breweries themselves replenish. This attention to detail in water quality is essential considering that water represents 97% of beer, the remaining 3% consisting of malt, hops and yeast. The type of water available directly influences the type of beer brewed.
The site where Los Aljibes now stands was previously a tourist attraction that didn’t quite take off. Its garden terraces took inspiration from César Manrique’s Cactus Garden.
Lanzarote’s first microbrewery
Hernán, the original Argentinian founder, ran a restaurant at the site but also wanted to pursue his dream of brewing beer. After travelling to Italy to learn the ropes with a craft beer industry expert, Paolo de Martin, he set up Lanzarote’s first microbrewery at Los Aljibes in 2014. He was later joined by British partner, Gavin, who also joined us on our tour.
Gavin and Hernán have a motto: “we only brew what we like.” In fact, none of their beer have over 5% alcohol content. Today they produce around 32,000 litres per year, which can be enjoyed either at the brewery itself or at The Tap Room in Costa Teguise
Getting down to business
Helles was the thirst-quencher served as a welcome drink on an outdoor shady terrace. This light, refreshing and fruity beer (4.5%) is perfect for a hot and sunny Lanzarote afternoon.
Out tour then took us to where the magic happens: the aljibes. The old water tanks are perfect for brewing as they maintain an interior temperature at a constantly cool 18°C. We saw the equipment first hand and learned about the seven main stages of the brewing process. This is carried out using only two pieces of equipment, which are meticulously cleaned between stages to maintain high quality standards.
Ollie is a mine of information and I learned so many interesting facts. Did you know that hops have been used for centuries in herbal medicine? Or that brown glass bottles filter out UV light and help preserve craft beer for longer?
The second taster was the Oktoberfest – a 4.6% Marzen beer brewed with 6 malts and 1 hop variety. A sweet and full-bodied flavour with a darker colour.
Back on the terrace, we sampled some local cheese to accompany the lovely IPA (Indian Pale Ale) – named “Tea” (after an indigenous Canary Island tree) – a fruity beer made with six hops, and with passion fruit and grapefruit aromas.
Interestingly, Indian Pale Ale came about during colonial times, as beer exported from the UK to India turned sour by the time it got there. For this reason, more hops were added, preserving it for long enough to be enjoyed after it’s long journey eastwards.
Having sufficiently warmed up after our first three samples, we headed to Arrecife for our next stop:
Cerveza NAO is set in the heart of Puerto Naos, Arrecife’s traditional fishing quarter. The area oozes maritime tradition which is reflected in the interior of the brewery’s small bar – “El Camarote.”
Lanzarote-born owner Miguel worked in advertising in Madrid for years. He always loved beer…but not bad beer! His interest in craft beer grew and after some training, he returned to Lanzarote and set up Cerveza NAO in 2016. He even uses raw barley from the Canary Islands, which gives his beer a local touch.
Behind the scenes
We had a quick yet informative tour of the small but seriously efficient microbrewery in the back of the building. It’s incredible to think that today around 3000 litres of beer are produced every month, the equivalent of about 10,000 bottles a year.
Cerveza NAO is the only Lanzarote craft beer that you’ll find in some of the island’s main supermarkets.
Going from strength to strength
The Marinera beer (4.8%) was the first of NAO’s delicacies we savoured – light, crisp and refreshing and perfect in the warm sun.
Next was Ataque Cabrón (5.3%). This IPL (Indian Pale Lager) was the result of a collaboration between five different Canary Islands microbreweries. Brewed with lager yeasts (as opposed to ale yeasts), it has a fruity aroma and is lighter and crispier than a typical IPA.
The beers were getting stronger by the minute as we now progressed to the 6.5% Mucho. Full-bodied and fruity with lots of malt and hops, this is one to be savoured slowly.
We were then presented with El Patrón (which means ‘The Boss’)at a whopping 7.6%. This rich black IPA is brewed with three different hops, and five different malts which, along with the coffee, caramel and chocolate characteristics, make it a darker beer.
Craft beer in Tinajo
If you’re in the Tinajo area, then check out Malpeis. This is the third of Lanzarote’s microbreweries and is not currently included in this tour. They have five beers on tap and it also one of the microbreweries that contributed to the Ataque Cabrón limited edition beer.
Science + passion = great craft beer
Tania comes from a Tinajo winemaking family and is an oenologist and agricultural engineer, while Orlando is an international opera singer.
Orlando had always been interested in beermaking and started investigating further during downtime between opera performances while in Finland. At the same time, Tania chose beermaking as a topic for her university thesis. The two things came together, and in 2014 they produced their first beer in the small back room of their current base in Tinajo, initially only open for tasting and take-away purchases.
Five craft beers on tap
In 2017, the bar above them became vacant and they opened Malpeis bar. They serve five different beers on tap, although you can also buy bottles: APA 4.4% (American Pale Ale), Coffee Porter 4.4%, Rofe 7% (Bock), Bermeja 6.7% (IPA) and Jable 5.3% (Blond Ale).
Malpeis is now a popular hangout for both locals and visitors. It also has spacious outdoor terrace, serves quality tapas and occasionally hosts musical events in a great social atmosphere.
Now you have plenty of excuses to enjoy a craft beer in the sunshine in Lanzarote! Not only is it of excellent quality, but each one is different and has a story to tell. To discover more about Lanzarote craft beers, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.