The Spanish Yard and Four Lions Brewery

We ran a news item in issue eighty four about the Spanish Yard growing hops in  the Orbego valley in the Leon area of Spain. It got my interest because, in my mind, hops grow in the lush green countryside of Kent and have names like ‘Fuggles’ so the idea of hops being produced commercially in Spain was a surprise.

I guess it shouldn’t be, given that Spain has a climate that everything else seems to grow in quite successfully why not hops? Why not indeed and the truth is that there have been hops and a beer culture in Spain since the Flemish brew masters arrived in 1517.

What drew me to the Spanish Yard project though was not only a curiosity about a beer culture I knew nothing about, but a curiosity about two friends who were so serious about their beer that they grew their own hops; that’s dedication to a cause!

Oscar Grande and Oscar Munoz have been friends since their university days. With diverse careers in architecture, advertising and computing their common grounds are farming roots and a love of beer.

It was this interest in craft beer that brought them together to create the Four Lions brewery and their stunning brewery tap at the site. 

Their farming backgrounds gave them the knowledge to grow their own hops and in a joint project with the Leon University they have produced what are described as ‘delicatessen’ hops in

consistent quality and sufficient quantity that they can now supply all of their own demands and look to export to a waiting craft beer world. They produce Nugget, Magnum, Cascade, Summit, Chinook and Columbus and are actively marketing in the UK now; and finding a foothold.

As we might expect with artisan brewers they are passionate about their product and, taking the personal approach to marketing, have toured the UK with their hops taking in towns and cities as far apart and diverse as Bolton, Newcastle and Bristol.

Having sent some samples to the Stowey Brewery at The Old Cider House in Nether Stowey, Somerset, the good folks at Stowey Brewery produced a beer that they called Nether Estrella using Summit and Columbus hops which was very well received at the bar.

It’s that individuality, that care and attention, that craft spirit that draws me to the story. This is a story that will run and run, it’s driven by passionate artisans who are deeply committed to their product whilst respecting tradition and operating sustainably in a throw away world.

We wish them well with the project.

Article Picture Credits: Noelia López Moreno and Iván Sánchez Criado

Footnote:

I was very fortunate to get to try some of the beers from their Four Lions brewery:

New England IPA 6.2%  – As good as anything I’ve ever had. My favourites so far have been Goose Island and Brewdog Punk IPA. Those are both a little bitter where this is  super smooth and really fresh, almost fruity. A really nice easy-to-drink beer.

Real Brown Ale 5.3% – Excellent. A real English style of beer that looks great in the glass and keeps its head nicely. Flavour is spot on, quite a ‘deep’ beer that I really enjoyed. Pint cans are a nice touch as well.

Black Palermo 5.4% – An Indian black lager. A new style of beer to me and a bit unexpected. Looks like a stout in the glass but really refreshing to drink. I think I would like to try this one again, it’s a very complex beer and I’m a simple guy!