The nucleus of beer production in the Basque Country is found all along its coast, both to the west⎯with Bilbao and its nearby villages⎯and to the east⎯San Sebastián and its surroundings. Nonetheless, the majority of breweries are located in towns of less than 10,000 inhabitants.
From the waters of the Gorbea massif or the reservoir of Añarbe to the malt obtained in the plain of Álava, which amount to a 26% of the total used, the closeness of its raw materials is what gives Basque Beer its distinct identity.
Every single step in the making of beer is conducted in each brewery respecting the highest artisan standards: the storing and milling of barley malt, maceration, boiling, fermentation or bottling and labeling. All this is clearly reflected on its consumption, as up to a 43% of a brewery’s production is consumed within a 30 kilometers radius.
The Basque beer-making sector is still growing and it produces an amount of 1,250,000 liters annually, while seven years ago it was 80,000. At the moment it is focused on producing ‘Zero Km’ beer, for which there are plans to recover and promote the cultivation of hop in Euskadi.
Here, the majority of breweries are found in San Sebastián and nearby towns like Rentería, Oiartzun and Hernani; and, a little farther but still close enough to the sea shore, in places like Irún and Zarautz.
Bilbao, where the tradition of beer-making is centuries old, together with nearby towns like Zamudio and Sondika in the valley of Txorierri have various artisan breweries.
Close to Bilbao, this coastal and mountainous area has breweries in small towns like Urduliz, Gorliz or Mungia.
In the western part of Vizcaya and close to the border with Cantabria, this region features an outstanding natural environment, medieval villages and a strong mining tradition.
There are many breweries and barley plantations in villages like Salvatierra, Nanclares de la Oca or Urkabustaiz, in the north-east part of this plain.
Although there are no breweries in this village, its production of barley and hop is later on used widely by Basque breweries for their craft beer.
TYPES OF BEER
These are the staple beers that make a brand recognizable and are produced and in stock all year long. Each producer elaborates around six individual beers to create a total of a hundred and twenty-five.
These could be either seasonal beers that are produced during a specific season or those that are unique and not produced anymore once they are out of stock. Each producer elaborates around eight of this kind, which sum up to a total of a hundred and sixty-seven. .