Many moons ago I was a student in Madrid, and I recently chronicled my 18-year struggle to find a decent pint in Spain. Thanks to the craft beer revolution, even in recession-smashed Spain there is room for disruption what was a pretty generic beer market.
The area in which we students used to stumble hang out was around Malasaña to the north of Gran Via, a veritable mess on a Friday or Saturday night. I remember it as dark place where the deep orange neon intruded upon onerous shadows. Malasaña is famous for its vibrant counter-culture and, of course, where there are hipsters there is craft beer.
The Fábrica Maravillas brewpub opened in 2012 and is a welcome oasis in a barrio drenched in lager, wine and hideous kalimotxo (red wine and cola mixed). For this alone I would salute them. I popped in to try out its range and now salute them even more.
The set-up is minimalist, typical of the American-style brick wall speakeasy with prices on glass rather than a chalkboard. Through the glass you can see the cisterns hard at work, another key feature of the modern brewpub. I like it. It’s akin to seeing the kitchen at Wagamama. And there’s an apparently penchant for leaving small denomination coins in the brick walls.
Talking hops at Fábrica Maravillas
I love being able to talk to educated bar staff about beer, especially in random places where I don’t expect it, as with my recent trip to Rome’s Ma Che Siete Venuti a Fá. The lady behind the bar asked me what lúpulos (hops) I liked and that guided my choice of beer.
I opted for a Citra-led Malasaña Ale over a Calypso pale ale and it didn’t disappoint. Having tried, I know Citra is a hard hop to lock down, it’s so acidic. Overplay it and you’re finished. This cloudy amber number boasts a spicy fruitcake nose and is bitter to the point of sharp.
If you’re into saisons, which Fábrica Maravillas also makes, then this might be up your street.
Next up was the American India Pale Ale, which is really malt-forward. It’s a lovely tawny-toffee colour with a floaty head that sticks around. The caramel malt really leads this one and it’s quite chewy (not a bad thing at all). The hop compliment well but sit in the background to provide the odd lemony whisper.
I didn’t get around to the others – a saison and an imperial stout among them – but I will doubtless be back and hopefully next time I’ll make it to midnight at the oasis.
How to find Fábrica Maravillas, Madrid