One of my favourite beer drinking spots from a cruise ship is a little bar on the Malaga harbour called La Cerveceria La Surena. It’s the last bar as you leave the harbour side stretch of bars and shops on returning to the ship (Paseo del Muelle 1). It ticks many boxes being in the shadow of the Lighthouse and therefore a short walk back to the ship; the beer is cheap, cold and fresh; draught Cruzcampo (Spain’s biggest beer producer, owned by Heineken) or bargain buckets of bottles of Heineken or again Cruzcampo; small plates of fresh fish, olives and meats are just sufficient to keep off the hunger until your next cruise banquet; an outside patio in the sunshine overlooking the pretty harbour side and an informal, friendly Spanish welcome. It’s a bit touristy and part of a small chain but then again, you are a tourist and on holiday ! Enjoy it. It’s one of my must visit bars when I’m leaving Malaga on a cruise ship.
However, “Craft” it is not and you have to march a bit farther afield to find some more flavoursome beer from some of Spain’s newer, smaller breweries.
The two bars that I can fully recommend are Cerveceria Arte & Saña (above) and Central Beers.
Cerveceria Arte & Saña is located on Plaza de la Merced (5), the main square to the north of the city, and probably as far as you want to walk on a day out in Malaga. The tap list usually has 9 choices : at least one brewed locally; a German lager style – normally Weihenstephan; a couple of other Spanish beers, a strong Belgian and a possibility of something from Scandi or even England or Scotland. It is the bottle list that is a marvel though – an exhaustive list of over 700 choices. It is perhaps the best list of Spanish micro-brewed beers that I have ever seen and that is normally where I do my shopping – Dougalls, Malaqa, Naparbier (try the Back in Black) – all recommended. The knowledgable staff will be pleased to help you choose.
Watch out for the opening hours though (remember the Golden Rules). The opening hours here seem to change regularly and can be a bit laid back and informal even when fixed (that goes for most of Spain to be honest). I’ve stood outside for 20 minutes at opening time on at least 2 occasions waiting for the “keys” to come. At the moment the scheduled opening time is 7pm which is, of course, useless for the cruiser. However, if you are lucky enough to dock on a Saturday, you are in luck because they open in the afternoon at 2pm – hopefully.
Around the corner, left out of C A&S, left again, into Calle Carcer (6), you’ll find Central Beers though again watch for opening hours. Winter hours currently shows opening time of 6pm – again useless for the cruiser – hopefully you may find that’s better in summertime.
15 taps here and a more conservative 150 bottles but still plenty of choice whatever your preference. A bigger food offering here too but cruise passengers, particularly British ones, seem particularly cautious of making too much of a contribution to the local economy by eating off-ship.
The tap range is set up on a series of big TV screens which you can gawp at, open mouthed, while making your considered choice.
Yep, we’ve fallen foul of cautious daytime opening hours here !
So, on the basis that the only one of these you might find open, particularly on a weekday afternoon in winter, is the cafe on the harbour with cheap-as-chips pints of Cruzcampo, I had better dig a bit to see if I can find you anything else. Caveat being that I have not visited any of the following and CHECK THE OPENING HOURS :
El Rincon del Cervecero , Calle Casas de Campos 5, in the SoHo district is a brew-pub with a sunny terrace.
Cervecería Mapamundi 2011 , Trinidad Grund 7, seems to specialise in Belgian beers but also comes recommended.
La Botica de la Cerveza , Calle Victoria 13, a bottle shop with 5 taps.
La Madriguera , Calle Carreteria 73, a craft beer bar with 12 taps – including locally brewed beers.
Spain remains a country where the first choice of beer is a small glass (caña) of industrial brewed lager for about a euro with many people loyal to their favourite brand. Like many cruise destinations these days, scratch the surface and take the path less travelled and you’ll hopefully find something more tasty.