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Lager, Lager, Lager

Monday April 28, 2008

Lager, Lager, Lager

Sinking a few ice cold cervezas is all part of the holiday mix for many. And whilst most of the big international beer brands such as Heineken and well known Spanish favourites such as San Miguel are readily available on Lanzarote there are still a number of home-grown contenders that warrant serious consideration.

Local Lagers

Despite the fact that wine production enjoys a central role in island history there is in fact no brewery on Lanzarote - and the two leading local brands - Tropical and Dorada – are instead both brewed and imported from Gran Canaria. Under the auspices of the CCC, the Compania Cervercera de Canarias. Which essentially translates as the Canarian Beer Company, who were founded in 1948 and are ultimately owned by the giant brewing conglomerate SAB Miller.

Tropical V. Dorada

The tipple that you favour can still speak volumes though - as island drinkers are split between those who favour Tropical and those who opt for Dorada. Traditionally the former has been viewed as the beer of Gran Canaria, whilst the latter rules the roost on fierce inter-island rival Tenerife. And as both islands are the birthplace of many Lanzarote residents it is often possible to discern where a locals loyalties lie from the label on their beer bottle.

 Both of these brands are available in a pils and premium format, with the pilsen varieties clocking in at 4.7% ABV and the especial or premium options weighing in at 5.1%. There is also a non-alcoholic version of both, usually labelled in blue and known as sin - which is the Spanish word for without.

Any seasoned lager drinker will find little to offend with either brand. Both are typical pale lagers - golden yellow in colour, sweet tasting, with a reasonable white head and malty aroma and flavour.

Of the two, Tropical is the lighter coloured and arguably more quaffable of the two brews. Whilst Dorada has a hoppier taste and a higher level of carbonation. Sample both beers side by side and there is an obvious and discernible difference in flavours.

Both are available on draught (a caña pronounced canya – is a half and a jarra - pronounced harrah - is a pint) as well as in bottles and cans. Tropical pilsen is also available in a bottelin - a small brown 25ml bottle - which is usually found in bars outside the main tourist resorts only.

Tropical and Dorada are usually priced a little below imported bottled beers which account for around one third of all lagers consumed in the Canary Islands. Expect to pay between €1.50 and €2.00 for a bottle or caña and around €3.00 for a jarra when ordering in local bars and restaurants.

New Brew On The Block

Since 2000 there has also been a new kid on the block. In the form of a third local lager called Reina – which boasts all natural ingredients and was launched by the independent Tenerife based operators Cervesas Anaga to challenge the CCC's duopoly.

Reina´s main selling point is that it contains no additives or preservatives, something which neither Tropical nor Dorada can lay claim to. Giving the brew an increased level of purity which the manufacturers claim can offset headaches and hangovers. Although that would ultimately depend on how many bottles you choose to consume, as Reina still packs a punchy ABV of 5.1%.

Currently, Reina lacks the distribution clout that the CCC are able to place behind Tropical and Dorada. So it can be relatively hard to track down, although it is usually available in most supermarkets in cans.

But in general both Tropical and Dorada are much higher profile and more visible brands, as the CCC also invest a good deal of money in supporting them with point of sale materials such as signage, branded umbrellas, glassware and suchlike.

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