Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Hopping to Gibraltar

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit Gibraltar. In case you didn't know, Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located near the southern most tip of the Iberian Peninsula which overlooks the Strait of Gibraltar. It shares a border with Spain and the crossing between the two areas is quite easy (at least since 1985 when the Spanish government reopened the border after almost thirty years of isolating the Rock).

Gib (as its known to locals) is a little taste of Britain with a Spanish accent and a small dash of Morrocan Arabic. There are British pubs, Marks and Spencer, Morrison's, etc.. But there are also tapas bars, pharmacias and restaurants that serve tagine and couscous. Most Gibraltarians speak English and Spanish fluently and almost all conversations consist of going back and forth between the two languages.

Now while this all very interesting, one of the real highlights for me is the opportunity to sample the British and Irish ales you can find here in Gib. There are of course the usual standards: Guinness, Murphy's, John Smith's, Fuller's London Pride and San Miguel (which is not British I know but available almost everywhere) but there are also other fine ales like Greene King IPA, and Bushy's Gibraltar Barbary Beer.

Gibraltar beer?

Yes, Gibraltar Beer. Well..not exactly. Let me explain:

Bushy's Brewery (now called the Mount Murray Brewing Company) based on the Isle of Man (yet another self-governing British territory) decided in November 2002 to brew a special bottled beer for the Gibraltar market. The beer proved to be highly popular with locals and visitors alike. Who wouldn't want a souvenir beer when they travel? Forget the t-shirts and postcards. Anyway, Martin Brunnschwieler (Bushy's Owner) and his wife visited Gib after the launch of the beer and formed a partnership with the Botanical Gardens. It was agreed that the gardens would grow hops for the Gibraltar beer. The brews that followed would be the first ever ales to contain hops grown on Gib.

Needless to say, I had to buy a few bottles...

..and then of course drink them!
The aroma is sweet and malty with the slight bitterness of the Gib hops. The colour is amber and it has a white disappearing head. The flavour is of roasted malt and the carbonization prickles the tongue and even though I don't have a tongue I found the beer most enjoyable.

So, what started as a beer made on the Isle of Man using only their ingredients, became a hybrid of two territories. Very much like Gibraltar itself.

1 comment:

Grey Bear said...

Great post Happy! Bears don't normally drink beer (although bear and beer are very close words) but next time I'm in Gib, I'll try some Bushy's.