Living in Madrid for the past month, I’ve learned there’s an interesting beer culture here. So in honor of International Beer Day, I wanted to teach you how to order beer in Spain.
Spain may not have a very large craft beer culture, but they do have beer culture. In fact Spain is the world’s 10th biggest producer of lager. Hot Spanish weather regularly sends people running for bars & outdoor terraces to cool off with a few refreshing afternoon drinks.
Ponme Una Caña!
While you could certainly ask for a cerveza and the bartender know exactly what you want, that’s not the proper way to order a beer in Spain. Instead, you should ask for a caña. What’s a caña? It’s a small glass of cold lager.
No one likes warm beer, and if you order a large one, there’s a strong chance you’ll drink it too slow, resulting in warm beer by the time you’re finished. However that won’t happen with a caña, as the small glass only holds about 150 milliliters — about half a can.
When your first ice-cold caña is finished, you simply order a 2nd. Genius!
Now a caña isn’t the only size they have available. Others sizes include a tubo (tall thin glass), or just a doble caña (double caña). The largest glass you can ask for is a tanque (about a pint).
What To Eat With Your Beer?
Now that you’ve ordered an icy caña, it’s time to grab some food. In Spain, ordering a beer often includes a serving of tapas. Tapas are a variety of small savoury appetizers, served as a snack along with drinks.
Many tapas include a slice of Jamón Ibérico — super tasty cured Spanish ham. It’s also probably the most famous ham in the world. Whole legs of the black Ibérico pig are packed in sea salt, dried, and sometimes aged for years before being eaten.
The best tapas bars are usually standing room only. A popular pastime for Spaniards is the “tapear”, which is hopping from bar to bar ordering a round of cañas with tapas before moving on to the next.
Happy International Beer Day!
Today is International Beer Day (August 7th), and to celebrate, remember to gather with friends tonight and enjoy the taste of beer (if you’re of age of course). Celebrate those responsible for brewing and serving your beer, and let’s all try to unite the world under the banner of beer!
In Spain, there’s a popular little toast that goes something like this:
¡Arriba, abajo, al centro, adentro!
The literal translation is: to up, to down, to the center, and inside.
Now for each part of the toast, you clink your glasses at the respective spot. For example, when you say “arriba”, you touch the top of your glasses. “Abajo”, the bottom. “Al centro”, the center. Finally everyone takes a drink to “adentro”.
Ok, that’s enough Spanish beer instruction for today. I think I’ll go enjoy a caña now. Salud from Madrid! ★
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What are your plans for International Beer Day?