Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Beer Files

I was with fellow beernut Daniel Mittler the other week, hunting the square of Plaza Sta. Ana in Madrid for organic brew. Senyor Daniel had just delivered a talk an hour before which, I was told, was a fine exposition of strategic campaign principles. It was my misfortune that I was able only to catch the open discussion session. But I did not feel too bad since Daniel had quality goofing time right after, and the man after all remains animated till he's actually asleep. I think.

I gave my good friend a shirt to wear at the green firm, which he was delighted to receive. In turn, Daniel made my eyes pop out when he gave me Chris O' Brien's great book Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World. I was fascinated when I first saw this title, and I passed on to Daniel a review of O' Brien's work. I think he hunted it down right away, and at Barajas, he handed me one of two copies he bought, one for himself, and one for me. I gave Herr Mittler a great big beer hug...

Continuing our never-ending swap of stories, rants and general happinesses, and on the advice of the bar gentleman, the fine Spaniard named Jose Luis Garcia, Daniel and I headed to the Tirso de Molina metro station to find a couple of bars that served organic beer.

I was eager to enter the first one we encountered, actually but Daniel, ever the patient one, counselled otherwise. And thus, after a few minutes of puttering around the nice looking plaza with lots of people-watching opportunities, we entered the fine bar called Naturbier where we had dinner and a few rounds of the bar's own excellent craft beer.

Being a tolerant vegetarian, Daniel ordered Patatas Bravas for himself (a large dish; the vege-man has a big appetite) and I asked for chistorras with chili and leaves. We both got a big mug each of the basic fare - blonde beer, which was delightfully cloudy, very smooth, and with lots of fruity flavor tones and fragance. After that, we ordered the tostada style, which was stronger and equally flavorful but not as complex as the previous one. We enjoyed the beers and had great fun doing the silly toast to the lovely surroundings.

It's hard to miss Naturbier once you reach Plaza Sta. Ana, since it has a very big sign and is placed right on the edge of the square, which is along Calle Del Prado, in between Calle Nunez de Arce and Calle Principe. During mellow sunny days, tables are laid outside Naturbier, which also has a vast, beautiful brightly lit interior. Large paintings adorn its walls, which is mostly the color of brick. Entering the place, we were met by high round tables and equally high chairs and plenty of customers occupying both outside tables and the tables by the entrance. So, no problem, Daniel and I dove in and eventually found a table big enough for eight, which he and I occupied easily with our stories.

It was a fabulous and funny occasion, since both of us had phones with cameras and we fiddled around with the devices snapping pictures like kids (which we are, happily). In fact, I think if Daniel and I had a slingshot each, we would have stayed in Spain for a while to accomplish great things...

I was last with Daniel in December and May last year, where we were posted as two among a handful of sentries, if you will, assigned the impossible task of keeping at bay marauding profiteers intent on screwing up planetary interests.

We had only a few hours of catch up, and we squeezed in as much as we can, but it was all worth it. We emerged from the bar quite happy and wanting to hop on to the first place we came across, but unfortunately it was already closed and it was only 15 to 0100. Daniel and I settled for a corner bar, where we continued our conversation and contented ourselves with the familiar industrial lager San Miguel and boquerones en vinagre (anchovies in vinegar).

We finished our mugs and tidied up and bade each other goodbye, resolving to continue our stories elsewhere, in another place, perhaps - with luck - even during a long-fermenting marriage of bubblies. Because love and suds make the world go round. Really. Believe me. #

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