Ribera del Duero is one of the most recognized wine-producing regions in the world, but few people know that a corner of this Castilian hamlet is also home to a truly singular craft beer – one that has already walked away with various international awards. The fields of barley that yield the raw materials used to make Mica beer are nestled snugly in a landscape dominated by vineyards. How about a taste?
The first sip of a Mica craft beer served in a wine glass between 41–44º Fahrenheit, reflects a large part of its personality: it is a balanced beer, with a controlled intensity and extremely recognizable aromas. Despite its youth, the project is keenly focused on both the national and international markets. It is led by the Burgos native and entrepreneur Juan Cereijo, who has infused it with every ounce of his passion and personal dedication.
As we begin our conversation, Juan's words immediately transport us to the small Ribera del Duero town of barely 180 inhabitants where this project began. "My family and I are from Fuentenebro, a town located in the southern part of Ribera del Duero (Castile-León), which is known for its exceptional grapes, as well as for having some of the best barley in the country."
Juan reveals one of the secrets to the quality of this raw material: "We cultivate the barley at more than 1,000-meters high in a mountain climate, which lends it a very special, fresh flavor. With this barley and using traditional elaboration methods – infused with a dose of innovation – we obtain a beer that has already received the recognition of international competitions in this industry."
Taking this locally-grown barley as a starting point, this Burgos-based company makes four styles of craft beer: Mica (with a secondary fermentation in the bottle, very soft on the palate and with lingering notes of apple and citrus fruit); Mica Gold (a Premium Ale with toasted notes and also very soft on the palate, with a sweetness that is quickly balanced by a lime-citrus aftertaste), Mica Quartz (a toasted beer, almost stout, with intense flavors of coffee and some notes of chocolate that mingle perfectly, balanced by refreshing licorice notes), and Mica Raíces, which, according to Juan, is an "authentic homage to the farmers of the Ribera del Duero," come to life in a Premium IPA with notes of thyme and wild herbs, together with balanced aromas of caramel and a perfectly integrated 6.5% alcohol.
Some of the beer competitions where Mica has won awards include the World Beer Challenge, the Lyon International Competition, and the World Beer Awards. At the latter of these, the company won the prize for the "World's Best Non-alcoholic Beer."
These awards have helped Mica gain a foothold in international markets. "We try to go to countries where we think our brand can have a long-term trajectory. In this sense, we are present in France, China and the USA and, little by little, we are entering markets in Great Britain, Peru and Japan – always in the Premium beer market," Juan affirms.
It is precisely in China where this small brewery is developing one of its most attractive projects: "Thanks to our contacts in the Chinese market, we have created a craft beer with a local partner using thyme from Aranda de Duero and Chinese pepper. It's an extremely interesting cultural exchange with China. Soon they will come to Spain to brew a craft beer with us, a Russian Imperial Stout, macerated in our oak barrels from Ribera."
Some of the beer competitions where Mica has won awards include the World Beer Challenge, the Lyon International Competition, and the World Beer Awards.
Translation: Adrienne Smith/@ICEX