Cooling down in Cordoba
As I’ve mentioned, Semana Santa is one enormous party, with wine, food, and beer, the alcohol flows like those documentary films on PBS showing the last pre-prohibition hours in the States. These barrels in the main image were outside ONE Cordoba Bar, empty or full, a testament to the boozy Spain we rarely see, or hear talked about. But this Monday morning, this is one weekend for one small bar, in a posher, classier part of town. Boy, these guys know how to drink.
As I wandered Cordoba’s delightfully and genuinely old, old town streets, restaurants and bars witnessed an insistent procession of porter’s trolleys ferrying barrel after aluminium barrel of Spain’s beers through open doors, wedged into barely used spaces for the nights ahead
Of course in Britain this tells of monumental consumption, but in Spain it’s not so simple. There’s a strong low alcohol culture, Low Alcohol (LA) beers and wines and even, heaven forbid Low Alcohol Martini’s, shaken or stirred, something I’ve not seen in the UK. The Spanish have been perfecting these for years. It seems to matter not one jot to Spaniards who I’ve seen switch between LA and non LA beers. Perhaps there’s lessons here for us, in the UK with our booze culture, whilst Spain’s, Tapas, communal, and late eating really does help, slow the booze slipping down.
One of my long enjoyed Andaluce delights is the great tastes of Low Alcohol beers whilst the UK saw what was it? Clausthauler, or something like that, tasted disgusting, to the point where you needed to kill your taste buds with four or five pints before you could face a “Hauler”, which defeats the objective. A top tasty tipple is Spain, “Estrella Galicia, Zero, Zero”, is my current fav LA brew and a delight at any time of the day, though Alambra Sin’ delights are up there as “Probably the best La Beer in the world” is there a advert tag line there?
But back to the barrels, stacked and piled. Did I drink a lot of beer, more Low Alcohol than the full on beer. Do I have a favourite in the South? I’m partial to a glass of Alhambra, the beer of Granada seems to hit the spot, but not a beer bore, or a ‘beer spotter’ for me it’s a good seat, a cool sip, and a great ambiance, pretty much like the UK. Sadly as in the UK, marketing and style take over, too many bars look like they’ve been designed by a joint team from Waitrose and Boots, anodyne and soulless. There’s more of ‘em each time I visit, dark interior walls, white furniture, and UV lights, ‘nuff said.
But a slowly sipped cold beer, usually about half a pint, a tall glass, with a little snack, a couple of anchovies and bread, chickpeas and spinach, seems pretty perfect at 2pm after a hard morning tourist trekking, all that church pew sitting, alter gawping, history reading, coffee stopping and imagining. This is as close to beer break heaven as it’s possible to get.
So yeah there’s lot of beer in Spain, there’s a lot of it in me, and yes it’s drunk all over the day, and yes you see it’s victims in the collapsing buildings, hidden in the parks, bottles of cheap beer and wine glugged and glugged, beggars too, it’s the dark part of life in a beered culture, jut not AS visible as in UK. It’s there though.