Palma Diary, June/July 2018 – An Englishman abroad
Day 9 – Tuesday
A mid-morning start for Alaró, taking the 104 bus to Palma and then boarding the Manacor train. The stop for both Consell and Alaró is a little out of town, so there is a connecting bus. I’d thought of Alaró for a number of reasons. Partly because I’d never been before and it looks like a nice place, complete with its own castle and partly because there are a number of restaurants specializing in local cuisine, so it should be good for lunch. Also, I thought I might call in at Forastera craft brewery if I can find it.
I alight from the bus and then find myself on a long straight road which looks as if heads into the centre. I see the name and realize that this is the road on which the brewery is situated. I wonder how far away it is and in which direction, then I look to my left and there it is – Forastera Cerveza Atresana – virtually in front of me. I walk through a quaint little seating area and there, behind a long bar, is the brewery itself. Sven, the owner and head brewer, is giving a tasting to a young American couple and they are happy for me to join them.
Sven is German, but his English is near perfect. He is also a heavy rock devotee and once even brewed a beer called Motörhead, so I regale him with tales of my past meetings with Lemmy. The brewery is so named because it means “outsider”, Sven being German and his wife, Marta, from mainland Spain.
I try his new ESB – English Special Bitter – and it’s very good, as is the Summer Ale. Then Polar IPA and Another F***ing IPA, which I had tried at BeerPalma earlier in the year. Its tongue-in-cheek name comes because Sven was fed up with people continually asking, “Can you brew another IPA?”!
I mention that I am planning a book on the beers and wines of Mallorca, whereupon Sven says, “Wine? Then you must visit the vineyard!”. He tells me about a local winery owned by a German businessman and telephones the manager, who says I am welcome to visit. Sven says it is a thirty to forty-minute walk, but when I look doubtful, he says, oh come on, we’ll go in the van. We travel through the most gorgeous scenery, but it would have been a good old walk, especially in this heat, so I am grateful for the lift.
The vineyard is called Castell Miguel and I meet Jorge, the manager, and he arranges for his assistant to show me around. It doesn’t take long, but it’s very interesting and I take some photos. There is a little shaded area where one can have a wine-tasting and the aspect, overlooking the tree-clad mountains, is glorious.
I decide to taste the red wines and commence with Monte Sion Joven 2015, shiraz, tempranillo and cabernet sauvignon, then Monte Sion Cuvée 2012, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon, merlot and monastrell and Monte Sion 2011. We continue with Stairway to Heaven 2012, one 100% shiraz and the other 100% cabernet sauvignon. Because Castell Miguel is not in a DO area, they are able to experiment with the grape varieties, but it is notable that they don’t include any traditional Mallorcan ones. There is a little shop where the people who were sitting on the next table are filling the car boot with cases, but I’ll have to be content with my tasting. I certainly can’t imagine a better location.
I order a Pa amb Oli and although it’s on white bread, it’s very well made with plenty of ham, cheese and pickles. Just the job.
Jorge very kindly gives me a lift to the station and it’s only a short wait for the train back to Palma. So, the visit to Alaró itself and the lunch will have to wait for another time, but I’m certainly not disappointed – a brewery and a vineyard! You know, when I first started coming to Mallorca about eighteen years ago, there were no craft brewers and about eight vineyards. Now, there are several breweries and upwards of fifty wineries!
In the evening, we head to Roger’s and find a free table. I have a perfectly adequate fish and chips and we settle in to watch the game. It’s England and Colombia and although England take the lead with a penalty from Harry Kane (Colombia are being quite dirty), Colombia equalise in the dying seconds of injury time and after another thirty minutes, it goes to penalties. The tension is palpable and I am obliged to have another large gin and tonic. Then it happens and it just goes to show that it is possible – England win on penalties!
On the way back to the hotel, we expect to hear the roar of ecstatic fans, but it’s unusually quiet.
A glass of Macià Batle Añada 2016 is a most acceptable nightcap.