Today we were welcomed by Juan Ezequiel Campos González to his Microbrewery, located in a 400m2 unit at the industrial business park of Campollano. in Albacete, Spain.
Juan is owner, manager, operator and brewer at Quijota, producer of craft beers following a traditional method using natural ingredients and applying basic mechanization. Juan tells us that the objective is to offer craft beers of maximum quality ‘without filtering or pasteurizing, generating carbonic gas and alcoholic fermentation with the yeast in a second fermentation in a bottle, and without adding any artificial preservatives’.
For the production of QUIJOTA craft beer, a BREWGOLD 500 V2.0 equipment is used that allows the production of 500 litre batches.
In the brewery there are also two 2 thermally controlled rooms. In the 35Im2 ‘Fermentation Room’ primary fermentation occurs in 4 stainless steel fermenters, each with the capacity to hold the 500 litre production batch, and then, secondary fermentation can be carried out in a bottle. In this room a constant temperature between 18 and 21ºC is maintained. Bottling is also carried out here. Juan tells us that current production capacity is of 3000 litres monthly, limited by the fermentation capacity. This could be doubled to 6000 litres per month by the installation of 2 more fermenters.
In a second ‘Ripening Room’, a 25m2 space where temperature is maintained at 6ºC the bottled beer is ripened for a minimum of 2 weeks.
I asked Juan about his inspiration for the brewery.
‘It began as a as simple curiosity about the world of craft beer, leading to a business project. Finally, the interest became a possible professional project and a reality after winning the first prize in the I FORUM ALBACETE CAPITAL of ENTREPRENEURS 2012. Counting on the collaboration of Brewer Master Jose Luis (“Azor Manchego”) the project of Quijota craft beer was officially launched in April 2014.’ Juan has an obvious love of the brewing industry, learning his craft through informal learning, extensive reading on the topic, research of brewing methodologies, ingredients and of course exhaustive trial and error as a home brewer.
Any why the name ‘Quijota’?
‘Given our geographical location in Castilla la Manchan we looked for a name that would immediately identify us with the region so we came up with Quijota, a tribute to the most illustrious figure in of our history ‘Don Quijote’ (Quixote) , using its name in feminine because beer is feminine.
Juan continued ‘The main idea was to have 3 standard elaborations of well-differentiated styles, soft one, stronger one and black one. Our Brewer Master, great connoisseur and lover of German beers, provided us with these recipes:
QUIJOTA RUBIA (KÖLSCH style) 4.8% vol. Alk., EBC 12, IBUS 25
QUIJOTA MORENA (ALTBIER) 5.4% vol. Alc., EBC 41, IBUS 37 (1st ACCE Contest Award 2010)
QUIJOTA NEGRA (STOUT) 5.0% vol. Alc, EBC 84, IBUs 40 (2nd ACCE Contest Award 2012)
We also came up with an idea to prepare special elaborations, although they require more efforts in elaboration, design of labels etc., and these elaborations are very rewarding.’
On the other hand, elaboration of personalized recipes is an important part of the production process. Presently we are preparing 3 orders for customers who shall use our beer with their own mark and 2 more projects are in testing phase.
So, where can we find Quijota Beer?
‘At the beginning, the idea was to focus on local and provincial market. After few months, we faced an increasing necessity to expand, and we starting to look for new outlets at national level. Currently we almost 400 points of sale at National level, mainly achieved through the channels of HORECA and establishments of selected products. We have signed a contract with two major distributors to commercialize our beers nationwide. We also work with about 10 websites that sell craft beers online.
In May 2016 we obtained the international kosher certificate, without geographical limitation, being the first Spanish brewery (industrial or craft beer brewery) to obtain it. The kosher symbol on the label represents much more than a product, conforming to religious norms and standards. With a control and care that is involved, it guarantees the highest levels of quality for a great diversity of customers, and of course, it allows us to be included in the kosher gourmet section of El Corte Ingles super markets, at national level.
And the future for Quijota?
We are taking new contacts to start exporting, although it’s a slow process. Our aim is to start exporting to Eastern Europe and also Argentina and other South American countries.
Our biggest challenge is to keep making better beers, to grow and create jobs. The main idea or point of self-employment project is to be able to live thanks to this project and at the same time, have fun working on the beer elaborations.
And so, finally we get to taste the fruits of Juan’s labour. I chose QUIJOTA RUBIA (KÖLSCH style) 4.8 ABV. This light and refreshing Blonde style beer is a fusion of two cultures, mast Mancha and German noble hops. With a golden colour it pours with a medium lasting white head. It tastes with a slight bitterness, malty but with fruity flavour. Salud!
Find out more about Quijota at http://www.cervezasquijota.es