Hijos de Rivera - 1906 Red Vintage
- Alcohol by Volume: 8.0%
- Bottle Size: 12-oz
- Int’l Bittering Units (IBUs): 27
- Serving Temperature: 42-47° F
- Suggested Glassware: Tulip, Pilsner Glass, Wide Flute
- Hops: Nugget
The 1906 Red Vintage is actually a blast from the past – a recipe that was almost lost to time. Long ago the brewery produced a beer named Especial Extra, though it was better known as "La Colorada" (The Red). The Hijos de Rivera brewmasters managed to recover the recipe and began brewing the beer again recently, and we're thankful they did! Red Vintage, which is brewed in the style of a German doppelbock, presents an attractive ruddy-gold/amber color in the glass, with a fine-bubbled head and crystal clarity. On the nose, we picked up considerable caramel character, along with touches of lightly toasted brown bread, hints of red apple skins, and a bit of brown sugar – all overlaid by a pleasantly earthy hop overtone. In the flavor, look for those caramel notes to be amplified and accompanied by moderate roasty tones as the malty core hits the palate front and center. But that's not all that's going on here; the Nugget hops, which is an American variety and, thus, a departure from a traditional doppelbock, offer some herbal spice notes, along with a touch of woodiness. Bitterness comes through at a moderate level, which is enough to offer a fine balancing counterpoint to the malty core, which is also balanced by a vinous quality from the otherwise well-hidden 8% ABV. For food pairing ideas, Hijos de Rivera suggests smoked fish such as salmon or trout, tuna tataki, Galician-style octopus, rich meat dishes including those with strong marinades, and blue cheese. 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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