There are so many breweries across Europe, it’s pretty tricky keeping up with them all. So, each month, we’re showing off the innovative and exciting breweries that we work with — hopefully giving you some inspiration to continue on your craft beer journey.
Freshness is king in beer, so what better way to start than with a new brewery? We’re keen on the Spanish beer scene, and not just because we’re looking for an excuse for a ‘business trip’ as soon as we can travel again. With the perfect mix of great weather, local ingredients, culinary culture and cosmopolitan cities, Spain has everything required for a craft beer boom to erupt. The buzzing city of Madrid has been somewhat of a sleeping giant on the beer front, but younger breweries like Península and our featured brewery Oso have been giving it a kickstart in the last couple of years.
The ever-adaptable Oso are nomadic brewers. This doesn’t mean that they wander the streets of Madrid with nothing but a knapsack of hops — just that they don’t have a permanent brew site, instead embracing craft’s famous spirit of collaboration and hopping on the kit of some of their fellow brewers. They’re also behind Madrid’s top beer destinations, La Osita. Tucked away in this hoppy haven, Madrileños are treated to pints of the latest in Spanish and international beers, as well as Oso’s own ridiculously refreshing range.
In conversation with Oso…
We caught up with the team to learn more about Oso and the exclusive beers arriving at HonestBrew in the next couple of weeks.
Can you tell us Oso’s origin story?
“We (founders Dave and Patrick) met in a pub in Madrid whilst studying in 2007 and always wanted to return. After over a decade in the UK doing other things in beer and beyond, including homebrewing together, we moved to Spain in 2018 to set up Oso. The first beers were launched from a market stall in July that year, and La Osita opened in March 2019. In September 2020, Joe — formerly Head Brewer at Garage in Barcelona — joined us to help brew more and even better beers.”
As a nomadic brewery does Oso work in different ways depending on where you’re brewing?
“Being nomads means Oso has to be versatile and creative, but it also allows us to work with great brewers while being flexible and unconstrained in our output. We don’t have a monthly quota, for example, and we’re not limited by the size of our brewery or brew kit. If we fancy it, we have the freedom to brew a variety of beers at the same time, in all kinds of batch sizes.
Every set-up is different, so it takes a bit of nous from Joe to ensure we develop the right recipes for the equipment; we’re wouldn’t be brewing a super-hazy triple IPA at a sour specialist!”
What are Oso’s motivations and ambitions?
“Whatever the style we brew or ingredients we use, we want the beer to be extremely drinkable, refreshing and enjoyable, balancing alcohol with sweetness, bitterness with mouthfeel, or creativity with accessibility. You could say our core mission is that we want everyone who tries our beer to want another one! Ideally immediately…
We’re also firm believers in the idea that there’s a beer out there for everyone, and want to help people to discover it. We’re keen to bring craft beer into the mainstream in Spain, so the first step is opening Oso’s own brew site and taproom this year and making it so damn exciting that people can’t help but take notice and give different beers a try.”
What can HonestBrew customers look forward to from your first drop?
It’s a smorgasbord for HonestBrew customers, this month. Two — contrasting — hop-heavy triple IPAs; a smooth, juicy, hazy IPA; a balanced, suitably fruity, raspberry Berliner Weisse; and to round things off a very seasonally-appropriate gingerbread-latté imperial stout.
Oso is also involved with a bar in Madrid with a big reputation, does this help you evolve your ideas for new recipes?
“We’ve spent thousands of hours behind the bar as well as in front of it, and it’s a great way to see and hear what people actually want to drink.
We love to get these unfiltered and unvarnished opinions and, as the bar is bang in the centre of the city, we have a diverse bunch come through the doors (pre-Covid, of course).
In more literal terms, although we haven’t come up with any new recipes through eavesdropping yet, it’s so deeply embedded into our subconscious, that it undoubtedly has an impact on how we approach brewing.
Do you see the brewery and bar as separate or intertwined entities going forward?
“Beer and bars are inextricably linked for us. Having a freshly poured pint with your mates is hard to beat (notwithstanding a cold can delivered by HonestBrew) so we’re never going to stop having our own places to serve Oso beers. As a brewery, it’s also the best way to get people drinking your beer in prime condition, so it’s even better as a brewer that you get to hear your customer’s candid thoughts.
Bars also help keep you in touch. You discover new breweries, new friends, fresh ideas and changing attitudes from the window it gives you into the wider craft beer world, and so we’re keen to keep doing events with other breweries, distilleries or vineyards, and learning from them. So yes, Oso & La Osita are together forever!”
To hear the latest news from Oso, make sure to follow them on Instagram: @osobrewco — and keep your eyes out for their beers going live on HonestBrew in the next couple of weeks.