Hijos de Rivera - 1906 Black Coupage
- ABV: 7.2%
- Bottle Size: 12-oz
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 27
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Snifter, Wide Flute
- Hops: Nugget, Sladek
The term "coupage" is used in the wine world to refer to the blending of wines to make a finished product. Hijos de Rivera uses the term here to refer to the mixture of four traditionally floor-malted Czech barley malts which they use to brew this excellent lager. Pouring very dark brown – approaching black – with reddish flashes, 1906 Black Coupage offers up a wonderful aroma. Look for richly bready notes with toast, touches of licorice, raisin and dried figs, hints of coffee grounds and cocoa powder, and an overlay of lightly fruity and floral hop character. This brew isn't shy on the palate either; there's quite a roasty character (much more so than Red Vintage), with notes of deeply toasted bread, roasted coffee, and hints of dark chocolate and nuts. Those dried fruit notes emerge in the flavor too, augmented by Sladek hops which often contribute a fruity note akin to peach along with a spiciness similar to Saaz hops. Balanced and supremely smooth, Black Coupage goes down easy on its own, but pairing with intensely-flavored meats such as beef or game, especially when barbecued, is an option that's hard to resist. Chocolate or coffee-flavored desserts, such as tiramisu, are a great option too for those with a sweet tooth. Cheers!
The story of Hijos de Rivera starts way back at the end of the 19th century. Jose Maria Rivera Corral immigrated to Cuba from Spain in 1870, and then eventually settled in Mexico where he opened a grocery he named La Estrella de Oro (The Star of Gold). In 1906, a few years after returning to his homeland of Spain, he founded a brewery in La Coruña, an Atlantic port city in Galicia, in northwest Spain, and north of Portugal. It was quite a bold investment considering beer culture in Spain was nowhere near as pervasive as in more iconic beer countries like Britain or Germany. Inspired by his old grocery store, he called his brewery La Estrella de Galicia, and though the company is known today as Hijos de Rivera (Sons of Rivera), their flagship beer still carries the name Estrella Galicia.
In the 1920s, Jose's son, D. Ramon Rivera, took the helm of the brewery and initiated a modernization of the brewery, including mechanization. At a time when beer was still not particularly popular in Spain compared to other beverages, he became one of the country's first certified Master Brewers after studying in Hamburg, Germany. Under his guidance, the brewery's production increased as their beer became steadily more and more popular.
The Spanish Civil War and World War II created a decade and a half of dark times for the brewery, just as war did for so many other breweries throughout all of Europe during that time. But, by the 1950s the company had entered a new period of modernization and growth. In fact, by the '70s the original brewery had simply become outgrown, so in 1972 brewing operations – now controlled by the third generation of Rivera family brewers – was moved to a new, larger facility which remains their home to this day. The original brewery does continue to operate and is a landmark symbol of the company.
Now in the hands of Ignacio Rivera, the fourth generation of his family to run the brewery, the appropriately named Hijos de Rivera has become a beer icon in Spain while turning their attention increasingly to the global market. In fact, they recently invested in a nearly one-third stake in Ireland's Carlow Brewing Company, another family-run brewery we were pleased to have featured not long ago. We hope you enjoy the interesting and malty 1906 beers from Hijos de Rivera that we bring you this month as much as we did. ¡Salud!
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