Marta Sanz Monte has been working with Estrella Damm for nearly 30 years. To welcome the Spanish brew to NZ shores we speak to the Barcelona based chemistry expert about his love of beer.

Q. What makes a beer expert at Estrella?


I studied chemistry in Barcelona and I also did a brewing master course in Madrid. I have been working with Estrella Damm for a long time. I started my career with Estrella Damm in the lab 27 years ago, my most recent work there was as a manager. Four years ago I moved from the lab and become responsible for sensory analysis in the quality department, to train and take care of the taste panel. I really enjoy this because I can improve my abilities as a taster every day. I also work in other quality-related areas.

What should a good beer look like?



Each beer has its own characteristics, but attributes such as colour and head are the customer's first impression, because they drink with their eyes. They look at colour, foam, and the C02 bubbles in the glass. Our beer is bright in colour with light amber and golden highlights, with pale foam that leaves an elegant crown.

What kind of vessel should a beer come in? How does the vessel change the beer?


There are different styles of glassware that reflect national traditions, but the purpose of any vessel is mainly to enhance aromatic volatiles, hop oils and another compounds produced during fermentation. The glassware also shows the appearance of the beer and has an effect on the beer's head and body. Our beer is a Pilsner and so we recommend it is drunk out of a tall, slender and tapered vessel. This helps to support the foam, highlights the brightness and helps you to take in the aroma of the beer when you take a sip.

What should it smell like and taste like?


The aroma of Estrella Damm has a grainy, cereal and biscuit malt character with mild pear, dried fruit and lemon citrus notes. It also contains fresh corn and mild grassy hop notes with low level yeasty sulphur and brandy flavours. It has a medium body with good carbonation and a crisp, bitter finish.

Can you share with us a bit of beer drinking history?


Beer is one of the oldest beverages in the world and has many important milestones in the history of mankind. Beer recipes have been found on small clay boards from Sumerian civilisations from 6000BC. It was very important to the Ancient Egyptians, where Pharaohs used the liquor as salary for workers. It was also important to different civilisations such as the Greeks, Romans and Germans.

In the Middle Ages, beer was used as a medicine, and monks in monasteries could be considered to have established the brewing industry. Beer has always been a good way to socialise and nowadays there are celebrations of beer in many cities around the world. The most important event relating to beer for humanity was pasteurisation. Louis Pasteur worked with beer and discovered that the process of pasteurisation could kill the microorganism that deteriorated the beer. This discovery eventually allowed us to preserve foods.

What foods match best with beer?


In Spain we match beer with typical tapas such as olives, chips, ham, and other more sophisticated foods, that people eat as an entree to lunch. Beer matches with a lot of salads, meat, fish, cheeses and desserts. We would recommend matching beer with pickled foods because the beer is a contrast to the vinegar, or with vegetables with a bitter taste. It also matches ideally with cheese because beer cuts through its oily sensation. It matches particularly well with blue cheese, smoked fish and all kinds of meat.

We asked three of our favourite NZ foodie faces to pick their favourite tapas bars in Auckland. Check them out:

Read more: Delaney Mes' favourite tapas

Read more: Sweet Mix Kids' favourite tapas

Read more: Amber Peebles' favourite tapas

For more about Estrella Damm and tapas visit their website here.