Right then folks, here we go...Malaga September 2022
We left a rather damp and dreary Manchester with an unexpected 1 hour delay (not the best of starts but nevermind) and boarded our scheduled 2 and half hour flight to Malaga, with a bit of a detour (and the captain putting his foot down) we made the journey in just over 2.
A very quick bag grab and we exited Malaga airport to our awaiting taxi and a little over 20 minutes later we arrived at our apartment. What a cracking place Linda had booked us, going as a family she opted to rent an apartment rather than a hotel (much more room)in fact our apartment was set over three floors and had every amenity we could wish for - so we dumped our bags and despite the late hours walked 2 minutes to Central Beers for a well deserved beer.
Awoke to brilliant blue skies and beautiful sunshine, so let's get out there and see what this town has to offer.
We took the leisurely stroll around the maze of streets that lead to the main shopping area and ultimately the harbour area, and it was around the harbour area that we visited our first bar...Taberna, Antigua, Casa De Guardia.
This is a very rustic one room bar that serves Malaga wines straight from the barrel and is VERY easily missed as there are no signs above the door to indicate its location (I had luckily dropped pins of all places to visit on Google maps so knew when we were close)
There are no menus or tables and chairs, instead you lean at one long bar and ask for wine by style (dry, sweet, dark, pale) and are served a small glassful, prices are around the €1.70 mark and your bill is chalked up on the bar.
Seeing as it was only 11.30 am we decided to just have a couple (they range from 11% to 17%) and are more akin to a sherry so first off was a dry Telo before choosing a sweet and sticky Lagrima Anejo and a little Tapas.
With a rosey glow on our faces we left and ploughed onwards for more shopping (this is after all a family holiday) and so a couple of hours later we headed back to our apartment to drop off our bags...time for another drink and straight across the road was a bar with a big pink elephant in the window, this means Belgian beers and our first visit to Tako bar.
This was a one room modern looking bar with a heavy Delirium presence, there was signs, buckets, tap handles, mirrors all with the famous pink elephant so my first choice had to be a Delirium Tremens.
It may have been the heat (or the fact that it was fresh from tap) but that was the sweetest Delirium I've ever tasted, no brainier I ordered another...this time the dark Nocturnum with Linda on the Sangria.
From the deliveries being dropped off you can clearly see that this bar has a strong Belgian choice of beers, is it any wonder we visited again and again.
After another stroll around the very picturesque harbour front gardens, filled exotic plants, flowers and many varieties of palm tree we made our way back toward home but not before calling into Birras Deluxe, this is a bottle shop and bar and was one of the bars we visited most (being located less than a 5 minute walk away at the end our our street)
This place also had a very strong Belgian theme, only this time La Chouffe. La Chouffe beerphernalia was everywhere...signs, tap handles even a shower curtain to hide empty barrels.
The owner was a very jovial man who welcomed you with open arms (quite literally) and so my first choice I left to him, I said I wanted something Spanish and how I love barrel aged beers, so his choice was a Cerveza Artesana Toro Amber Ale aged in Olorosso Sherry casks. Despite it's 6% it had masses of barrel character with the sweet sherry shining through, I liked it so much it was my first purchase to bring back home.
Food was ordered in the form of some truly amazing Iberico ham and some delicious oxtail croquettes
My next beer and I again went Spanish only this time with a brewery from Malaga, I chose a Silk Street and one of their NEIPAs...so fresh and juicy.
Our first day came to close with another bar very near our apartment and one that proved very popular, the epitome of a local Spanish bar...La Tranca
This is just the picture perfect Spanish bar being filled with locals (and the odd tourist) it was rammed every time we visited or walked past, it was loud with colourful locals singing and dancing...it was stunning. Because it was so packed we just opted for a couple of drinks and a tapas of Patatas Bravas but said we'd return.
So that's day 1 done and dusted, the rest of our holiday soon.
We were blessed with beautiful clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid 30's so seeing as the market was open that would be our first port of call (to stock up on delicious cured hams and salami) however...
What we had seen described online as one of the best markets in Spain sadly fell far from this title, half the stalls were shut BUT in saying that what were open sold some nice items it just was nowhere near as exciting or packed with variety as the one in Barcelona. So after picking up a few items (including a bagful of Choracito and Nora dried chillies) we spent the rest of the morning exploring the myriad of backstreets and it was whilst walking back to our apartment to drop off shopping that we decided to pay a visit to a bar/bottle shop located just a 10 minute walk away.
La Botica de la Cerveza
A small two room bar with a wide variety of bottles and cans with 5 craft beers on tap, my choice was a Peninsula Road Trip TIPA on 9.5%. What a wonderful beer this was, full of tropical juicy flavours and just perfect in the heat.
Beer consumed it was beer shopping time and I picked up some real beauties...DIPA, Barrel Aged Imperial Stouts and Barley Wines...this place may be a little stroll out of town but it's definitely worth a visit
After calling home to drop off beer and shopping we had a stroll around the other side of town and after a spot more shopping in a local supermarket called into a local bar for a well deserved drink.
Now this place was at all beery but I'll post a pic to showed that I also indulged in the more "ordinary" beers...an Estrella Galicia poured from the most beautiful copper casks, this was the only beer from tap so was top quality fresh.
Seeing as it was now around 3pm we took the short 4€ taxi ride to the beach for a leisurely walk along the seafront
and whilst there a Sangria and beer overlooking the sea.
After a taxi ride back home we had a walk around the old town and indulged in cocktails on a rooftop terrace and as the sun slowly set we drank in what was another amazing day
By now it was food time so we opted for a small (from the outside) restaurant that was just three doors down from our apartment and despite it being packed and not having booked we were made feel most welcome and a table quickly found. This was some of the most delicious food of the trip and Linda finally got to try octopus which she absolutely loved (even our Anna liked it) with the Beef Estofado in local sweet Malaga wine utterly delicious (I even bought a bottle of the wine in an effort to recreate it) and the braised pork cheeks melting soft.
Just time for one last beer so it was just across the street and Central Beers, a La Chouffe for Linda and me a Basqueland The Rooster Knows - 6% NEIPA
Back across the road to our apartment, time to recharge for another full day.
Day 3 and boy it was a scorcher
The thing with an air conditioned apartment that's sat in a shaded courtyard is that you're not quite prepared for the blistering heat that awaits you and as we left for another day exploring.
We had promised a day at the beach so that's where we headed, a short taxi ride and it was blue skies and golden sands. Sun loungers underneath a parasol were very much needed with the nearby bar serving drinks to your table meant we never had to leave the cool shade and only 3€ a pint
After a shower back at home we decided upon another visit to La Tranca for food and drinks and as usual it was absolutely packed but our luck was in as a table became available so drinks and food ordered and I noticed that lots of locals were drinking Vermouth poured straight from an ancient looking barrel so that was my choice.
The best Albondigas I've had
Pork stewed in local sweet Malaga wine (so glad I brought a bottle home)
Homemade Tortilla with Aioli
Your bill sir
Bellies full we wandered down the street to craft beer bar La Madriguera Craft Beer, we arrived just as they were opening up.
A local DIPA and a local stout before the beer of the trip - Bourbon Barrel Aged Three Bean Stout from Lervig
Bottles and cans were bought and after dropping them off we paid Berra Deluxe another visit, a Cherry Chouffe from tap was ordered.
And with that day three came to an end, our final day next.
And so to our final full day and with a pick-up in the early hours of the morning (3am) our first job after breakfast was to pack the multiple beers, packs of meat, jars of sauce etc that we'd bought...get the packing out of the way early so the rest of the day was ours.
After some skilful packing (on behalf of Linda) both suitcases and carry on cases were packed...both within an inch of their limits.
Beer packed in inflated tubes and bubble wrap ready for the flight home.
Maximum 20kg...19.8kg of beer
So with that done it was time for our last walk around town to visit some favourite places for the final time and one place Linda wanted to visit was El Pimpi, a restaurant overlooking the ancient Roman Amphitheater and co-owned by actor Antonio Banderas.
Every time we walked past this place the outside seating area was completely packed and as for the quirky indoor seating labyrinth it was almost impossible to spot an empty seat so we didn't hold up much hope BUT our luck was in as we bagged an outdoor table.
Hard to believe this is inside a restaurant
Wall of barrels signed by famous visitors
A Sangria overlooking the Amphitheater
Patats Bravas and Grandma's stew croquettes
Another place we had to revisit was Casa de Guardia for one or two special sweet wines and that is just what we ordered...from left to right
Pajareta - Sweet and sticky, heavy on the raisins.
Pedro Ximenez - Just as sweet and sticky as above but less of the puréed raisins
Malaga Quina - The least sweet of the three dark wines with a pronounced herbal almost spicy taste.
Moscatel - Pale coloured with sweet candied lemons and sweet green grapes
After more sightseeing and a bit more shopping we decided to have our final meal in the historic old part of town and have our first Paella of the trip, when ordering we were told there would be a 20-25 minute wait (always a good sign as you know it's freshly cooked) no problem as we had a few tapas to share first.
Gambas Pil Pil
Time to head back home, ready for our early pickup but not before one last beer in Berra Deluxe and also to say our goodbyes
Our final beer and one from CloudWater in Manchester, a touch of home
Birras Deluxe owner, a friendly and knowledgeable beer fanatic. During one of our visits he was placing his order of bottles and cans and asked my advice on UK craft beer, we sat at his computer and ordered beers from The Kernel Brewery in London and Siren Craft Brew in Berkshire
When leaving he gave me a La Chouffe key ring as a thank you, such a real nice bloke
And so with that it was home and early to bed, Malaga had been done and dusted.
Now then how does it rate beery wise (and otherwise) to the 4 places we've visited in Spain...Barcelona, Madrid, Valencia and now Malaga
The top two are Barcelona and Malaga with them almost level as both have an excellent selection of craft bars...if I HAD to pick one then Barcelona would just take the No1 spot, this is because of breweries like Garage and maybe it had a more varied selection of craft beer but then Malaga had a better beach and felt more Spanish, then again Barcelona had a much better market...it really is that close.