Oktoberfest. It happens every year in Munich – although I’ve yet to understand why it starts in September and ends just as October is getting going. The 182nd Oktoberfest just took place in the beautiful Bavarian city, but you don’t have to visit Germany to enjoy a traditional Oktoberfest event. Mallorca now has several, with locations in Palma (Son Fusteret), Santa Ponsa, and Playa de Palma (MegaPark). Lederhosen not required . . .
For those who prefer craft beers, Mallorca has also become interesting for the number of microbreweries that have sprung up in recent years. Palma hosts a beer festival each spring and this year we sampled a few of the local brews. The one we liked best was Rubia Bohemia Pils from Cerveza Nau.
Artisan beer from Santa Maria
Cerveza Nau microbrewery is in the small town of Santa Maria, which has a large popular Sunday market (including an organic produce section). It’s the business of Michelangelo Mazzoccola and Thomas Zapp, two friends who discovered a mutual enjoyment of good food and drink (and particularly beer). Thomas is German and Michelangelo is half-Spanish, half-Italian, but grew up in Germany. Coincidentally, they both grew up in the same town, but didn’t meet until they came to Mallorca.
Their beer has been on the market only a few months, but the idea of starting their own brewery came much earlier. Premises, brewing equipment, and ingredients had to be found first. Cerveza Nau uses water from the UNESCO World Heritage Site Tramuntana mountains, malt, hops, and yeast. The golden liquid is not filtered and is a totally natural product, meeting the standards of the Germany Beer Purity Law. “We were looking for a beer that people would order a second one, not just say ‘how interesting’,” says Michelangelo.
Rubia Bohemia Pils (with an alcohol strength of 4.9%) is available in 330ml bottles, or in kegs. “The best way to drink beer is direct from the keg,” Thomas says.
A family effort
They invested a lot of time – and tasting – in achieving the brew they wanted. The two business partners both have ‘day jobs’ outside brewing, and are assisted by members of their family when it comes to tasks such as labelling the bottles (which is done by hand). Even Michelangelo’s mother – an elegant and charming lady in her senior years – pitches in to help.
The beer requires eight weeks of fermentation and maturing, and 4,000 litres are made every two months. “Craft beers need time,” Thomas says.
A new brew for Cerveza Nau
The business partners have now made almost 1,000 litres of a new wheat beer, to be sold in three-quarter-litre bottles. “It’s not traditional,” says Michelangelo. Thomas adds that it’s “very fruity.”
The Boss and I tasted it before it was ready to be bottled. It was good at that time, with an almost champagne-like quality to it. In another week or so it should be available to buy.
On which subject . . . you cannot buy Cerveza Nau beers in shops. Not even in del Món. Cerveza Nau sells direct to bars and restaurants, and – on Sundays (10am-3pm) – to people who visit the microbrewery in Santa Maria. If you’re visiting the market, it’s worth the short walk to meet these two enthusiastic brewers and see what they have created. If you’re not visiting the market, but enjoy good beer, go anyway. They have a small beer garden at the back where you can try before you buy and – if you’re lucky – Mama Mazzoccola will have made a tapa of some kind to accompany your drink.
I took quite a few photos when The Boss and I visited, but a problem with the camera’s memory card meant I have none of them. So, the above is one I made at home earlier today! It was a good excuse for The Boss to open a bottle . . .
©Jan Edwards 2015