Oh the things I do for the Armada Sur, a bit of consumer testing was on the cards as I headed bright and early to Santa Cruz with Barnet Dave. We were eager, hammering on the door of the brewery at 10 am to sample the new tour. I was a bit peeved that there were only seven of us visitors, parties were announced as being up to 15 people but after wrestling with the on line registration I booked the last two places, our guide said they had cut the size down to make it more manageable.
Never mind, the smell of hops was in our noses and our multi lingual guide and his young female assistant took us past check in and across the courtyard. Bottles and barrels were piled high in the store area and I was twitching with anticipation. Luckily they hadn’t noticed my five litre flask and siphon straw sticking out of my bag. Wearing our high visibilty yellow jackets we watched a video in the reception room and paid our three euros fee.
Entering the cooking area the air was humid and sweet, like being wrapped in a warm beer blanket, the water, malt, hops and yeast were sloshing away in a huge vat and I thought I could see someone swirling round in there with a huge grin. Our guide gave us background and history in Spanish and English before we moved on to the packaging area. Were those yellow bubble gum machines all around the brewery, maybe not, they gave out ear plugs and we were glad of them in the bottling plant. There were armies of Dorada Pilsen bottles marching along the conveyor belts, I deployed my fishing rod but couldn’t find any Especial to snare.
The last stop was the museum and bar, one whole wall was a glass cabinet containing bottles from the start of Dorada production in 1948. I imagine that is what Los Abrigos Andy’s living room looks like. Our guide started to pour us glasses from the Dorada tap and we sipped as we chatted. The brewery, part of SAB Miller, also brews Tropical and Carlsberg (under licence) but it seems that Dorada is the dominant sale in Gran Canaria despite our view of Tropical as a Pio beer – cue memories of 2,000 CD Tenerife fans singing at Las Palmas ground “ No No No Tropical”.
Especial on tap was a rare sight and we managed to coax some of that into our glasses and we were also offered some less filtered Dorada that was more bitter and yeasty, very good too. Dave was tempted to buy a t-shirt but they didn’t go up to experienced beer drinker sizes.
After a 90 minute tour it was tram time down into the capital and leaving Dave to explore I headed to the port to check out the ships and then on to Parque Maritimo for the second part of my mission. The swimming pool complex to the side of the Auditorium has recently done a deal to give CDT season ticket holders free entry (normally 2.50) so I had to check it out. It was midweek with a mix of cloud and sun but half of the complex with the largest pool was closed off and only a scattering of people were around the other kids pool and a still luxuriously big second pool. I had to show my N.I.E number as my CDT season ticket is in the name of the peña Armada Sur rather than mine but once in I was soon doing circuits in the main loop of the sea water pool.
Out of the pool like a wrinkly blond prune I had a good look around, it’s a lovely complex with shaded areas, showers and a Pizzeria Café and there’s also access to a small beach. Outside the café there is a covered area with a large TV, part of the link up with CDT is to make this a fan zone, I’m sure it could prove popular for the local fans to watch away games as part of a relaxing Sunday. Well worth having a look – go on just dip your toe in the water.