When I received an invitation to visit the Mahou Brewery in Madrid in July 2018 I knew barely anything about the company and had never tasted its flagship beer Cinco Estrellas. In the UK I am probably not alone, although there can be few people who do not know another hugely popular brand owned by Mahou– San Miguel. Mahou (pronounced Mow) is Spain’s largest brewing company with its beers in 60 countries. It also owns the Alhambra brand, plus stakes in Spanish craft brewer Nómada Brewing and the influential Founders Brewery in the USA.
‘Big Beer’ I muttered to myself when I learned these facts. But then I spent a couple of days in Madrid with members of the brewing and marketing teams and had the full Mahou experience. It started with a visit to the gargantuan main brewery, then on to the company’s stylish brew-pub Espacio Cervecero where I helped to judge the food and beer matches created by catering students sponsored by Mahou, followed by dinner at the fabulous Street XO restaurant for some stunning food matched with exemplary barrel aged lagers (more of those later). It ended with some gentle head-banging at the Mad Cool music festival. I was smitten.