Who are you and your current job?
My name is Jesús León and at the moment I'm assuming the position of CEO at Cervezas Arriaca, a Spanish micro-brewery located in the town of Yunquera de Henares, in the rich cereal region of the Countryside of Guadalajara, just 60 kilometers away from the capital of Spain, Madrid. In Arriaca, I'm part of the management team of the brewery, along with the other three founding members. We each assume, always in coordination, our role. And I sincerely believe that we are a good team. We all dedicate a great effort and dedication since we started as a microbrewery, and fortunately, It's worth it.
What was the inspiration behind your brewery?
We had a good reason to start the Arriaca project. After years of homemade beer and crafts, tests, experiments and improvement as a hobby, we decided to take part in a national homebrewer contest in Spain, where the jury was made up of several of the best specialists and professionals of the Craft beer in the country. There were three prizes and we won two of them. This meant a tremendous boost in our decision to get completely involved with the project that has led us to what is now Arriaca.
But moreover, we didn´t want to do it in the easiest way, we wanted to do it in the most professional way possible without leaving, of course, the path of craft beer.
We wanted the best production equipment; We wanted facilities that were in line with the quality product that we wanted to generate; We wanted people with knowledge in the sector.
We wanted to go step by step, including that of being the first Spanish artisan beer that bet on the canned packaging. We started with three varieties of beer and now, after the last two that we will present very soon, there will be eight.
And with a lot of ideas in the head.
In terms of concept, we are strict: originality, creativity, quality and respect, and, of course, patience for the brewing process. No tricks, no additions. And without losing the link with the local, with the closest, which is implicit in our name: Arriaca. Arriaca was an old Celtiberian settlement (a town that existed in Spain before the Romans spread throughout Europe) that today supposes the foundations of the ground in which the factory grows and the cereals from the Countryside are cultivated.
Can you give us a tour of your beer scene?
It hasn’t been easy for the artisan brewers in Spain. The difficulty came because the sector was very closed around large beer groups and still try to keep it inaccessible
There wasn´t, except in smaller circles, a culture of craft beer; We were accustomed to a single type of beer that, for you to make an idea, we were invited to drink in ice glasses to mask the lack of quality.
That has been changing at a giant pace in recent years, and we, the small brewers, have a good responsibility of that. In my modest opinion, all of we, the microbreweries, are the engine of beer R & D + I in Spain.
In a very short time, the Spanish craft beer sector has grown exponentially, generating very high-quality levels, as confirmed by the many international awards we are getting all the microbreweries in Spain.
It is true that many brands have arisen in recent years, and that there will be a general readjustment, something that has already begun. What is clear is that quality beer has arrived with enough force in Spain, and is here to stay, especially in our country, where is a wide gastronomic culture, varied and high quality that allows excellent pairings. The proof of that is that the big beer groups, those who did not want to know about quality beer, are now betting on it ...
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a brewery?
The dream and the project are constructed with the steps that are traced. Each one marks his destiny. The world of artisan beer is exciting, so, of course, I invite anyone to enter it. But with a planning and project of the company, they are many factors to be taken into account, in addition to the dense regulations of the beverage sector.
The Market is opening, as happened years ago in Spain with quality wine, today, one of the best in the world.
But we have to claim from the 'micro' a differentiated bet with regard to flat, linear flavor and without the aroma of the beer that has been produced in Spain for decades without practical alternatives unless specific imports.