First off, I should declare that I am not a beer expert. But I like beer and most of the varieties it comes in. Although I do have a taste for drinking it colder than most purists would advise. But they can just go choke on their hops.
So take this review as one man’s honest (and fairly uneducated) appreciation of what I consider some very fine beers.
And so to the subject of this review, a Spanish brand going by the name of Murex, a monicker that is probably wholly unfamiliar to people in the UK. For these are CRAFT beers from Spain, where beer choice at the pumps is usually down to a single digit and only just greater than zero. The choice only varies depending on which part of Spain you live in. In Granada it’s Alhambra, in Malaga it’s San Miguel and Seville it’s Cruzcampo. From my observations in Andalucia, the Spanish don’t seem to be at all pre-occupied by their choice of beer, as long as it’s cold.
So to find a craft beer here in Spain is pretty unusual in itself, when you consider just how much choice is available in the UK. Even ‘Spoons does craft beer these days (and very well too, I might add).
According to the company’s website http://www.cervezasmurex.es/ the business of Murex Beer was established in 2013 and they now produce 6 distinctive beers using wholly natural ingredients and brewing processes. You might struggle with the website as, natch, it’s all in Spanish. Google translate does a reasonable job I drank three of the varieties before I considered writing a review, so sadly I’m only able to review half their collection. If they see this review maybe they’ll like it enough to send me some more and I can finish the job.
First up in the Murex Beer lineup is the Rubia, which is Spanish for blonde. The company describes it as ‘PALE ALE beer with malt and varied PILSEN secondary basis as Melano and Crystal malts, which give a soft and round taste’. I’d go along with most of that, but add that it has cloudy golden colour, almost like a wheat beer. In my own tasting notes I’d describe it as having fresh citrussy notes, with a taste part way between an IPA and a wheat beer, with a hint of fizz on the tongue like you get with a weizen, but smoother and not as sharp. All the beers are secondary fermented in the bottle so there is a noticeable amount of sediment at the bottom. Just something to watch out for. It’s also very lively and even under careful opening it came whooshing out of the bottle. Fortunately I had a glass to hand, but the general liveliness led to an excessive head on the beer. Alchol is 4.5%
This couldn’t be more different to the Rubia. A thick, dark and cloudy concoction that looks remarkably like an espresso in colour. The beer is described as being fermented in oak sherry barrels with added raisins that give greatly to a heady mix of flavours, with hints of chocolate and oak in the nose and almost rum n raisin taste. Given that this beer is seriously strong at 10.5% (how much?) it’s overtones of port wine and sherry are pretty much to be expected. But given it’s high alcohol content it’s a big surpise to find very smooth and easy on the palate. This is nothing like rough and ready beers like Gold Label, or even better behaved Belgian beers like Duvell. It’s like a dessert. Rich, smooth, and fruity. This is not a drink for quaffing a few tapas with, but rather something to savour by a log fire on a chilly winters evening. Again there is some sediment in the bottle and fortunatel it wasn’t quite as lively as the Rubia. Alcohol 10.5%.
Dark and mysterious? You bet. Thick and suave in colour like a traditional stout, but with a smoky smooth almost espresso taste, and hints of bitter chocolate and treacle. Their own description is ‘Not all Prefer Blondes. Stout and his legion of followers have their place in our family.‘ And yes, it does feel like a stout, to be honest. Pretty strong at 6.0% mind, so watch how you go. Again this was another over lively example out of the bottle, which I don’t if it’s my fault or the beers.