After a bit over a month of residing in the Principality of Andorra and enjoying all the wonderful food here, I think it is about time I shared some of my experiences. I hereby decree the commencement of 'A Taste of Iberia and the Pyrenees', with frequent installments featuring products, recipes, and anything else related to food and beverage in this glorious corner of the world.
For this first entry I would like to recount a small beer tasting we held casa nostra in which we progressively tasted the 3 primary varieties of the Portuguese beer 'Sagres'. Given that the Portuguese make up some 12% of the Andorran population, it is no surprise that Portuguese food and beverage are easy to come by. The name Sagres comes from the Portuguese town of Sagres, located at the Southwest tip of the Iberian peninsula. The biggest selling beer brand in Portugal, Sagres was first introduced at the 1940 Exposição do Mundo Português and has had great success ever since.
The first beer to be tasted was the simple Pilsner Sagres Branca, the flagship brand and biggest seller. The taste was simple and clean, but nothing to write home about. It is comparable to many of the other inexpensive pale lagers produced in Spain and Portugal and would probably be best described as a simple table beer. It has a 5% alcohol value.
Next on the list was the Sagres Bohemia. Launched in 2005, Bohemia lager is a noticeably darker amber color and presumably inspired by the beers of the Czech Republic. This is my favorite of the 3 for an everyday beer - it is aromatic and flavourful but not too heavy on the wheat, which can make one feel uncomfortable after throwing a few back. It has a slightly higher alcohol content of 6.2%.
Last but not least we tried the Sagres Preta (with Preta meaning "dark"). At 4.3% alcohol it is the least alcoholic of the three, but what it lacks in punch it makes up for in flavor. Also available since 1940, it was for a long time the only available dark beer in the Portuguese market. To me it had a slightly smoky flavor, and I was surprised by how light it was considering its darkness. Andrew and Mike picked up some some coffee and nutty tones, but unfortunately my congestion prevented me from any deep tasting insight. I could definitely see myself drinking this while stuffing my face with say...pork ribs, since clearly I would want to fill up on the meat, not the alcohol, but at the same time would still want to have a nice, rich beverage to enjoy.
Still on the list to try are the LimaLight - Sagres' answer to BudLight Lime and all of those other Chelada-type beers - and then the Bohemia 1835 Reserve. Unfortunately I have yet to see either in the stores - and trust me, I have explored the grocery store options here in Andorra. Given the number of Portuguese in Massachusetts, I know as a fact that Sagres is available back home, but as to the Bohemia and Preta varieties, that I couldn't tell you - keep your eyes peeled!