What was the national beer scene like before the oligopoly?
The current moment that the beer sector is going through is an explosion of new brands, styles and factories. There are more and more beers and more different from each other. We attend a powder of a stylistic variety that coincides with the permanent hatching of small producers. Well, this situation is not the first time that it happens in Spain.
We have to go back to the 19th century. Initially,beer production was subject to royal privilege of estanco. In other words, the businessman had to advance to the state a significant sum of money to receive the license that would allow him to produce beer. This practice limited the proliferation of breweries until their elimination in the first half of the 19th century.
WhileSpain is a country of winemaking traditionSome entrepreneurs then tried with varying success to undertake beer production in our territory, taking advantage of the recent release of their commercial production. Lacking its own brewing tradition, the machinery of these first factories was a reflection, if not imported, of the technology of European countries with a long history of beer such as Germany, England and the Czech Republic.
In this way the first breweries in Spain germinated. For example, during the 19th century there were more than a dozen breweries in Madrid. Some of them are the Lavapiés factory, the Santa Bárbara factory or the Carlos Meins brewery. From this century, Mahou and El Águila, which currently belongs to Heineken under the name of Amstel, survive to this day. What did these factories have that lasted?e enough capital to update your factory with respect to technological innovations such as industrial cold. On the other hand, they were able to make a tasteless and less bitter beer that conformed to the preferences of the bulk of consumers.s.
Regarding styles, we must bear in mind that the population was not used totasty European beer, whose bitter taste used to displease the most Spanish wine consumer. This was one of the main reasons why many of the first breweries disappeared in Spain. Some entrepreneurs were not able to adapt European recipes to the wine palate of the Spanish population.
These circumstances led to the fact that during the 20th centurythe brewing industry was left in the hands of a few advantageous manufacturers who took small processors off the board, and in certain cases also absorbed them through the economic route. That is why currently beer brands in Spain enjoy a great territorial identity such as Estrella Galicia or Estrella Levante. However, this does not prevent new artisans from persevering with a quality product.