ALHAMBRA LAGER—Happiness in a bottle (or at least some kind of ALHAMBRA brew, maybe not this particular one; you can blame my sweaty mother for not clarifying)

My Fellow Inebriates,

Everywhere she goes, my mother ends up conversing with strangers about alcohol. Sometimes she doesn’t even initiate it; people just mention beer or wine when she’s around. She must have a “lush” vibe.

The latest recommendation came in a Superstore lineup. To be accurate, it was addressed to the cashier, not my mother. The dude in line behind her, asked how he was, gave an actual answer, saying he was brilliantly happy—mostly because of his hobby: drinking unusual beers from around the world.

4460What was his favorite? The cashier didn’t ask, but he volunteered that it was ALHAMBRA from Spain. Presumably not being a lush herself, the cashier didn’t elicit which ALHAMBRA brew, and my mother, not having pushed her way into the conversation and being filthy and sweaty following a morning workout, didn’t either. But she did get showered and make a beeline for the liquor store that afternoon, where she bought the only ALHAMBRA brew on offer: the lager.

Based on the Superstore dude’s demeanor we surmised that ALHAMBRA must be happiness in a bottle. And we were all the more disposed to try it given that Spain has been rocking our world oenologically lately.

Another plus: 6.4% alcohol. Happiness in a bottle indeed.

ALHAMBRA LAGER’s first impression is a skunkiness not dissimilar to Grolsch’s. I don’t mind skunky beers but my dad—who wasn’t thrilled in the first place that a lager had come home—had reservations about it.

The color is rich gold with a generous creamy head. On the skunky spectrum it rates “intriguing,” stopping well short of “disturbing.” I couldn’t wait for the first sip.

Ahhhh! ALHAMBRA’s generous ABV gives it some welcome heft, making it more than a fizzy Eurobooze vehicle. Round and substantial with punchy carbonation, it strikes hard with sweet malt, corn, and moderate hoppiness. It’s not a one-note beer—maybe a three-note beer—and it’s weighty enough to be an effective “transition beer” for those months when the weather doesn’t know what the hell it’s doing and if you didn’t have a calendar you wouldn’t know it was April and not either March or June.

I doubt our fellow Superstore customer was talking about this specific ALHAMBRA offering in his ravings to the cashier (who said she preferred wine). Chances are our government-run liquor store buys the most mass-market variety ALHAMBRA brew. Which is fine because I was enchanted with the 6.4% ABV. I loved it, people, and it even tasted pretty good.