FOOD AND DRINK

Why has Spanish superchef Ferran Adrià brewed up an “unloved” beer?

With brother Albert, the founder of legendary restaurant El Bulli has created Malquerida

From left to right: Ferran Adrià, Ferran Centelles, Marc Álvarez and Albert Adrià in Barcelona.
From left to right: Ferran Adrià, Ferran Centelles, Marc Álvarez and Albert Adrià in Barcelona.

Red, ardent in appearance, and fresh and alluring to the palate. That is Malquerida, a new beer created specially by Spanish superchef Ferran Adrià and his brother Albert with Latino cuisine in mind. Dishes from Mexico, Peru and Brazil are currently trending globally and have taken root in Spain. “In Spanish restaurants and bars, more ceviche is typically eaten than tripe,” says Ferran Adrià, who is keenly aware – from his years of experience in the industry – that the growth of Latino food is now unstoppable.

Albert, the younger of the Adrià brothers, has established their gastronomic project elBarri in the Barcelona neighborhood of Paral·lel, an area where he has set up a number of restaurants already: tapas at Tickets, a vermouth bar at Bodega 1900 and cutting-edge Engima, along with Mexican food at restaurant Hoja Santa and taco bar Niño Viejo, as well as Japanese-Peruvian fusion at Pakta.

It’s going to be difficult not to love it Albert Adrià

The beer being served at these locales will be Malquerida (the name, “unloved”, comes from one of the best-known works in Spanish theater). The strategy is to raise awareness of the tipple through restaurants and then to distribute it for general consumption (at no more there €3 a bottle, says Jaume Alemany, responsible for marketing at Damm, the Catalan brewer the chefs have developed the project with). Finally, they will look to international expansion.

The Adrià brothers have been planning to launch a beer for some time now, but it was only in 2016 they began their experiment, eschewing gastronomic norms by combining an assortment of singular ingredients including mescal, lime, lemon grass, anise and piper auritum (commonly referred to as hoja santa in Spanish).

“True teamwork,” they say. And they showed it off in a presentation accompanied by many of their collaborators: Ferran Centelles (who was sommelier at their storied restaurant elBulli from 2000 until its closure in 2011 and who is now in charge of wine and drinks at food research studio elBulliLab), Marc Álvarez (head of cocktails at elBarri), Paco Méndez (Mexican chef and friend of Albert Adriá, having worked at both Hoja Santa and Niño Viejo), along with master brewers from Damm.

The goal of these perfectionists has been “to find the perfect marriage between the red color of hibiscus and the citric aroma of an orange, the acidity and texture of wheat, along with a touch of corn, plus the essential hops (which provide bitterness and spicy kicks) along with barley and malt (which gives structure). The result has a respectable five degrees of alcohol and should be drunk chilled but not icy.

“It’s going to be difficult not to love it,” jokes Albert Adrià, describing Malquerida as perfect not only for spicy food and mixed flavors, but also for accompanying Spanish favorites such as boquerones (a variety of anchovy) in vinegar (“our ceviche”) or mussels. “This beer cleanses fat and contributes acidity” he says.

Despite its name, Malquerida (“it looks like a cocktail,” says Álvarez) hopes to find a place on the menus of top restaurants as well as being available in bars. The beer shares much in common with Inedit, the first collaboration between the Adrià brothers and Damm in 2008, and that can now be found across the world. Inedit was conceived as comparable to champagne, served in thin-stemmed wine glasses and presented in ice buckets with a stylishly designed bottle.

English version by Henry Hahn.

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