Luis Alvar, master brewer Hijos de Rivera SAU interview

Interviews

LUIS ALVAR DEFG

Our master brewer Luis Alvar is in charge of beer brewing and has been responsible for important launches over the last few years. Recently, he and his team have personally developed our 110th anniversary commemorative beer, recovering the recipe and taste of our first beer from 1906.

What did the research task that has allowed us to recover this recipe look like?

We have made use of all the archived material we have, old lab tests and handwritten notes from fifty or sixty years ago. We have also spoken to retired people to gather the information that they remember. Also, with it being such an old recipe, we found that raw materials have changed over time such as in the case of hops. They used some varieties that are not grown anymore and so we had to look for the closest alternative to the original varieties.

And what is the result?

The result is a 100% malt beer, with a bright golden colour and balanced aroma of malt and hops, with a prevailing aroma of the latter, containing fresh and floral notes. It is light-bodied and has a moderate bitterness which lingers, resulting in a very pleasant and easily drinkable beer. Thanks to the QR code
that we have added to the bottle, we can now know first hand the opinion of our consumers of this beer. This code has been one of our greatest developments as it allows us to see opinion trends and consider making changes to some of our seasonal beers like this one.

Do you think Beer Culture exists in Spain?

We are fortunate that interest in trying new things has grown over the last few years and this is linked to the growth of beer culture that we are seeing in Spain. One sign of an increase in interest can be seen in the proliferation of microbreweries which are becoming more and more common all over the country and are helping to get the beer message out to the public. On the other hand, I think the financial
crisis that we have been through in the last few years has helped many people change their habits and they have started to drink beer regularly because of its price. Different beer producers have also been extremely dedicated in moving the beer world closer to consumers through various activities. A clear example of this is the MEGA museum that is soon to open at the end of this year. Other examples are the activities run by our colleagues from External Quality and Beer Culture or the Beer Master Programme.

Where is the sector going?

In the brewing sector we have seen the trend change from Spain being a place where people only wanted a very light mild beer with mild bitterness and little alcohol to an increasing demand for beers with more character, that are stronger and more alcoholic with more accentuated hops notes.

In what way is the brewing department being adapted due to the growth that we are experiencing?
It is essential that we adapt to this growth in order to move with it and increase our production capacity. The growth that we are experiencing provides a real challenge as we have to adapt many areas of the facilities year after year and carry out many projects at the same time. This is only possible thanks to the direct involvement of the Technical Office department. Thanks to a spectacular job we are developing projects and continually growing.

What evolution has our brewery been through?

On a productive level, we have tripled production in the last 12 years. This growth, reflected not only in volume but also in our beers, has been accompanied by an enormous growth in being recognised, becoming the Spanish company with the largest number of formats. In these years, we have also
evolved as a company, adapting the different levels and structures, going from being a small business into the corporation that we are today.

Where are we going?

One of the things that we are most asked is how far we are going to go and it is difficult to imagine, taking into account where we have come from and what we are achieving today. We have plans to double our current production levels. This requires a new brewhouse, identical to the one we opened
in 2013 with which we can reach 400,000,000 litres a year. Along with this brewhouse we will need
a new filter line to be able to supply the bottling area with all our current beers, as well as those that could appear in the future. During all these changes we always have in mind the latest technology on
the market that we can adopt to help us conserve all the characteristics of our top quality products. We have inherited this way of thinking from our predecessors, such as José Luis Moreno, former master brewer and Ramón López, former manager of the Quality Controls department.

Talking about your team, who are they and what do they do?

The organisation of the department has not been exempt from all the changes and we have been adapting to the needs of this process. Currently there are four of us on the technical side. Diego Vázquez, Rosendo Valerio and recent recruit David Mato. They help me in planning, supervision and process improvement, as well as developing new products, designing and executing new facilities. 34 people work with us and are making the “Estrella miracle” happen with real hard work and dedication. Without a doubt, they are our greatest asset.

Maestro Cervecero de Hijos de Rivera SAUAge: 37

Marital Status: Married

Favourite food: Galician stew

Favourite drink: 1906

Hobbies: Football and everything related to technological entertainment

Favourite city: Tokyo

Favourite book: Lord of the Rings

Favourite film: Terminator 2

Favourite song: Livin’ on the Edge, Aerosmith

Best moment: Having a beer with my family

Aim: Continuing to adapt processes and the brewery to the needs of the future

Can’t stand: Arrogance and pride

One Weakness: My list of unread emails is long

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