Cruzcampo is one of those generic Spanish lagers that you can find all over Andalucía. Actually, you will certainly find it outside Andalucía too, as it is apparently the best selling lager in the whole of España. Spanish beer had never been something I was too keen or interested in before and so I’d never even heard of Cruzcampo until I spent a few days in Seville back in February.
A couple of hours before Sevilla CF’s Europa League tie against Lazio, me and Gibbo found ourselves in a car park around the corner from the Estadio Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán with the other Sevilla fans. It seemed the thing to do was to just hang around in the sun drinking €2 litre bottles of Cruzcampo. We happily joined in. We initially shared the bottle between us, before realising that this stuff was going down easily and quickly and so we resorted to buying litre bottles each for our next hour or so of consumption in the sun. What surprised me most though was just how much I was liking the stuff. This was weird, as it would probably be fair to say that over the past ten years or so I’ve become a bit of a beer snob; I’d probably be one of the first in line to denounce Spanish lagers. Spain are now one of the biggest lager producers in the world, but the Spanish stuff had just never done it for me.
My perception of Spanish beer was not a good one, but Seville had surprised me back in February with just how many excellent craft beer bars there were across the city. However, it’s fair to say that the craft beer bug is a long way from being a universal presence across other parts of Spain. In fact, probably the thing I’ve been looking forward to least about moving to Spain has been the likely outcome that I will be stuck with the chemically-fueled, large commerical lagers if I want a beer: espeically as where I would be living in Marbella, there is only one small craft beer bar (that I’m aware of so far at least). Thankfully, I knew I’d have Cruzcampo – a beer I had struck up a weird love affair with back in February in Seville.
The day after that Sevilla v Lazio game, we went across the city to watch Sevilla’s big rivals Real Betis take on Rennes in the Europa League. The same prematch ritual was occurring as the night before: small vendor selling a seemingly endless supply of litre bottles of Cruzcampo to the masses in the street. As we drunk and danced along with the Betis fans, I jokingly christened myself and the small group of friends with me as the ‘Cruzcampo Ultras’ as we all serenaded our love for drinking it in the street on Twitter. #CruzcampoUltras was born and on moving to Spain, this odd joke has led to me continuing championing Andalucía’s chief beer.
Jump forward six months later and on the second day of my new life in Spain, I headed to Málaga. On tweeting a photo of me kissing a can of Cruzcampo on the bus to Málaga, I was buzzing to receive a tweet from the official Cruzcampo account with the simple message: ‘Welcome back!’ Love.
Cruzcampo was born in 1904 with two brothers basing their beer on the classic Czech pilsner forumla, but with its own unique fruity Andalusian twist. The aforementioned brothers, the Osborne brothers, are much more famous in Spain for creating what is now an iconic symbol. Go down any highway in Andalucía long enough and there’s a very good chance that you are going to spot a 14ft, metallic, black silhouette of a bull. This bull was created as a symbol for the brandy produced by the brothers, but has since taken on a new life as national icon for Spain. In the 1990s the Spanish government decided to clamp down on roadside advertising and the fate of the bulls was in jeopardy. The Spaniards were not having that and a national ‘Save the Bulls’ campaign was launched and was ultimately successful. In 2005, a judge even ruled that the image is now national property due to how synonymous it has become with Spain. Anyway, we’re not hear to talk about Spanish iconography – we’re here for the beer – so enough of that and let’s move on to my bar visit in Málaga.
Cruzcampo is predominantly brewed in Seville, but I knew that there was also some sort of Cruzcampo brewery bar in Málaga; I’d not exactly done the most thorough research on Málaga and so I had no idea where it actually was though. I had sort of decided to wing my day around the city and I was sure I’d find it. And find it I did – immediately. Amazingly, the stars aligned and on leaving my hostel in the Soho area of the city, I walked all of 5 yards before spotting across the street ‘La Fábrica – Cruzcampo Brewery.’ Lovely stuff.
What a bar this place is too! With me getting a Málaga CF season ticket this year, I imagine I’ll be spending a lot of time in Malaga and probably a lot of time in here. La Fabrica is a big one – as you’d probably expect from a place called ‘The Factory’ – and the bar area is sorted of divided up. There are 2-3 areas that are designed for groups to sit down and eat and then a large open bar area for those who just want to sit around drinking. These divisions are split with a stage area where bands and other acts perform throughout the week; my Thursday night entertainment was a Spanish funk/pop band.
Me being me, I headed to sit at the bar itself, as I am very much a champion of sitting by bars in unexplored places: it’s a great spot to people watch from, you get chatting to lots of randoms and you also get chatting to bar staff, who are always good for local information and just usually generally good conversationalists. Behind the bar is the brewing epicentre and the huge cannisters filled with beer loom over the taps from watching the beer will be served from.
Pleasingly, there is not just the usual Cruzcampo sold here and there is a whole range of Cruzcampo craft beers made and sold here. I opted for the Malagueta Pale Ale (described as the ‘most malaguita of all our beers’ on the menu)vand it really was excellent – so much so that I did not try the other beers and stuck to drinking that. There are seven other beers available including an IPA, a hazy pale and a strong dark ale.I figured I’d certainly be back and my taste buds could experience the others another time (note: I’m editing this blog the morning after revisiting – last night I drank Malagueta again. Experiment next time please Matt!)
For the foodies out there, there is a great menu on offer too with a simple colour-coding system pointing out what beers go well with what food. Croquettes, burgers and some classic Spanish dishes all frequent the menu and all very reasonably priced too.
A friend once said to me that “Cruzcampo tastes like arse” but I shall continue my crusade against such views. Anyway, a superb bar. If you love beer and if you are ever in Málaga, you should definitely check out La Fábrica – their website is excellent for information too if you want to take a look at that here.
Cruzcampo Ultra for life!