Brewery CERVEZA RONDEÑA
Pioneers of Ronda’s only Artisan Ales
A drive through the outskirts of Ronda and the labyrinthine country roads, flanked by vineyards and olive groves, is every oenophile’s dream. Green pastures heavy with the scent of spring lead the way to Andalucia’s mountain top town of Ronda, where foodies from around the globe gather for a taste of the old Spain.
Hidden among the ancient winding streets of this historic town, a few minute’s walk from the centre of the city, you will find the home of Cerveza Rondeña – Ronda’s only artisan brewery created by Salvador Márquez and Celedonio Arias.
From the outside their shop looks like nothing more than a modern beer store, but delve a little deeper and you will find a rather interesting distillery where Ronda’s only home-brewed real ale is made, bottled and sold.
The shop is modern and decorated in fresh natural materials with large photos of cool beer on a warm day adorning the walls. We step behind its contemporary facade and into a shining new distillery.
Celedonio sits quietly at the table, smiling and letting Salvador do the talking... he clearly enjoys taking the back seat and concentrating on the technical side of the business
“We saw a gap in the market and we succeeded,” says Salvador, a local entrepreneur who, when he sets his mind on something, rarely fails. “I love a challenge nearly as much as I love beer. I have a very competitive nature and I really enjoy starting new projects. Celedonio and I have worked together before and we were so inspired by Ronda’s new wine revival that we realised it could also work with beer. That we could make some really interesting ales and tap into the new artisan beer market here in our home town.”
Salvador and Celedonio are friends as well as business partners. Salvador is at the forefront of the Cerveza Rondeña name , confidently talking us through their creations and the workings of the brewery - his partner preferring to step away from the limelight. Salvador’s enthusiasm for their products is evident in the way he zips around the distillery showing us the new machinery and the quality of the ingredients.
“Everything is done in here, from the fermentation to the bottling and packaging. We use as many locally produced ingredients as possible, one day our products will be completely locally sourced and organic. That is what we are working towards.”
“It’s all in the detail, even our iconic bottle tops feature the famous Ronda landmark”
Lovers of all things creative, Salvador and Celedonio believe that the secret to the success of any drink is as much in the branding as the flavour. “I love anything to do with design, photography and imagery,” says Salvador, a keen amateur photographer. He flicks through image after image on his phone. “All the pictures you see here on the walls and in our advertising, I have taken. It really excites me to be part of the entire process. It’s so important in life to have a passion, whether it be my dogs, photography, sport, making my own wine at home just for the fun of it or helping my daughter run her fashion boutique in Puerto Banus. I always get a thrill from setting a challenge and succeeding at it.”
Salvador is an impressive sportsman, having received medals at many local sporting events – while his partner prefers the online world and losing himself in his love for cinematography. Together they have astute business minds with a creative edge, a clever mix when it comes to producing artisan beers.
"We have fun with what we do and we like to present it in a way that is attractive to the buyer."
Six thousands bottles of ale are produced a month in their small distillery, and like anything that the duo put their mind to it has been met with a lot of positivity in the community.
“I know Ronda and I understand our market here,” says Salvador. “Ronda attracts many tourists year round and I wanted to offer them something different. That’s why our label features the famous Ronda landmark.”
Salvador has owned the town’s top pizza joint for 28 years, which has stood him in good stead when it comes to getting local businesses behind him and impressive local restaurants and hotels stocking his products. The name is beginning to reach the coast and they will soon be looking to export Cerveza Rondeña outside of Spain. “We have been in business for less than a year and already the beer is getting a cult name for itself,” he says. “We think of every detail, we care about the small things, and because of that our iconic bottle tops are already selling on Ebay for more than the bottles of beer themselves. Just come to Ronda and buy the beer, I say!”
"By this time next year we hope to be offering an ecological alternative and a number of different flavours. It’s all very exciting!”
Salvador is a man that can’t keep still, he has a thirst for knowledge and an appetite for trying new things. “We have so many plans for our beers,” he says.
“We’ve only just started and we’re already making great progress growing our collection. This summer we will be offering the Indian Pale Ale which is a lighter more citrus-like alternative to other beer, and then we hope to be producing a stronger bitter later in the year.” He darts from machine to machine. “We have space in here to add more distilleries and expand. By this time next year we hope to be offering an ecological alternative and a number of different flavours. It’s all very exciting!”
“Everything is done in here, from the fermentation to the bottling and packaging.
Celedonio sits quietly at the table, smiling and letting Salvador do the talking. So established is their working relationship that he clearly enjoys taking the back seat and concentrating on the technical side of the business. “I really enjoy marketing our beers and working on our branding.” He holds up one of the attractive carry cases made with strong card, the bottle of beers peeking through the clever cut out design of Ronda’s famous bridge. “It doesn’t cost any more to make packaging interesting, to think of new and attractive way of making your brand stand out. We have fun with what we do and we like to present it in a way that is attractive to the buyer. They come and they taste it, we know they love the flavour, but our look ensures that they will also buy a set as a gift for a loved one.”
Salvador lines up his beers in a pretty jewel-like line, the deep autumnal colours shining invitingly.
“Look at this!” he enthuses, holding up the liquid amber so we can appreciate the way it settles into a golden glow. The taste is clear and crisp; it’s pub gardens in the summer and barbecues in your back garden. It’s a huge step away from the commercial beer we are all familiar with.”
“Look at this!” he enthuses, holding up the liquid amber so we can appreciate the way it settles into a golden glow. "...It’s a huge step away from the commercial beer we are all familiar with.”
“One day I want to be in Germany, the home of all good beers, and be able to order a Cerveza Rondeña. That’s my dream, to see our bottles beside those of other artisan brands. Then I’ll know we’ve made it.”
When Salvador and Celedonio talk of their dreams, ambitions and plans they are not words to be taken lightly. If the success of their craft beer is anything to go by it won’t take long for them to accomplish their dreams. These are two men whose cups most definitely runneth over.