Adalt – Three STP engineers making craft beer in the centre of Palma
This is a story of three friends, three engineers, who met through work more than ten years ago. Sebastian Barcelo (Sebas), a mechanical engineer, and Guillermo Blasco, an electronics engineer, are from Mallorca, while Alberto Camina, an electric engineer, is from Madrid. They lived and worked in Barcelona and Madrid before moving back to Palma and starting a micro-brewery.
Sebas got into craft beer making while living in Barcelona, where he took a few initial courses. Between 2011 and 2012 all three friends ended up back in Mallorca and Sebas started talking more seriously about his idea of making beer. Like many great businesses before, theirs too started in a garage! Their particular garage was attached to Guillermo´s house in El Terreno, on the outskirts of Palma, where the engineers started making their first batches of craft beer, “just as a hobby”.
In 2016 Sebas used his holiday, all 20 days of it, to go to a brewing school in Berlin. That place had everything he needed to further learn the trade and cement his plan of becoming a serious craft beer maker. Upon Sebas´s return the group started looking for a more professional site. They found it in Soledad, an “interesting” neighbourhood on the east side of Palma.
As the time went on, and they were making more and more beer, they decided to throw their first beer party and invite all their friends and friend of friends. So, they had their first ever consumer tasting, kind of a large focus group if you like, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. With the added wind in their sails the guys decided to move forward and turn their hobby into a side business, still keeping their engineering jobs. They moved to their current location, taking over a space of a former kindergarden in the neighbourhood of Arxiduc, just outside of the “Avenidas” semicircle in Palma.
Interestingly, as in Mallorca (and possibly Spain?) one cannot obtain a micro-brewery license, and one cannot have a factory in the centre of town, their business ended up being classed as a bar. A bar that makes its own beer on premises sounds pretty inviting to me!
Sebas told me that Adalt has no fixed product list. They have about 20 different beer recipes and out of that they usually have 6-7 beers on offer at any one time – at least one of each different type i.e. pale ale or pilsner, IPA, black beer and so on. They are typically doing small batches of 40 litres of beer. This approach lets them experiment and make errors without too much of a waste.
The beer I tried during our chat was a limited edition they first made for Valentine´s. They brewed it three times since and I hope it comes back “by popular demand”. It is an ale infused with pineapple and mango. Even though I am not a huge beer drinker, I really liked this beer – light and fruity, with just the right kick to it. However, Sebas warned me that, at 7%, it was not that light in terms of alcohol.
The Adalt´s packaging is also very cool; it is in fact artwork in its own right. For each new beer recipe a new label is designed by one of the local artists, either a Mallorquin or a foreigner based in Mallorca. Their art director, Marta, usually serves as a bridge between the artists and the beer makers, between the engineers´ ”squareness” and the artists´ creativity, because “sometimes the language is just not the same”.
When I asked what a good year looked like for Adalt, before COVID, restriction etc., Sebas responded that they “still don’t know what a good year is”. They opened in October 2019, doing really well from the start, but then were abruptly stopped – like the rest of the world – in March 2020. Their main idea was to sell bear as a pub, but once this was no longer possible, they saw it as an opportunity to do other things. They launched a web shop, offering their beer to private individuals as well as businesses. Delivery is available to the whole island within 24 h and to the mainland the next day. The guys would happily deliver to yachts too, so do check them out if you are in any of the marinas around Mallorca. If you are on dry land, Adalt is currently (early March) open only at the weekend, but this is likely to change by the time you get your copy of The Islander.
I am intrigued by the name, wondering whether it´s some sort of a play on the word “adult”. Not at all, I am told. The name comes from the time when the guys were based in Soledad, where they were on the first floor, above a collective of artists called Local 21. These artists were having a party every 21st of the month and one month they invited our engineers to provide the beer. When Local 21 people asked for a name, to put it on their flyer, the guys confessed that they didn’t have one. They were making beer and having fun. Didn´t think that they needed a name. So, just to be called something, Guillermo said “pues, los de arriba”, meaning “well, the ones from above” or “adalt” in Mallorquin. Over time they had many passionate discussions regarding the name, especially since they moved to the ground floor, and so technically were no longer “the ones from above”. Still, somehow the name Adalt stuck and is now a well-known entity in the world of craft beer in Mallorca.
While it’s impossible to list here everything we talked about with this friendly, energetic engineer turned beer-maker, what is clear is that he is super passionate about their beer as well as the community spirit, from supporting the local artists by giving them visibility through Adalt´s labels, to numerous other collaborations i.e. with Brut restaurant in Llubi whose combucha they sell or with an Italian colleague whose focaccias perfectly complement their beer.
Sebas tells me that they are planning some more collaborations and are hoping to make some new beers in the spring and summer, including: double ipa, hells bock and new versions of their ipa and pale ale. All in all, I can´t wait for some warmer days and loosened restrictions so that we can sit in Adalt´s garden and enjoy their cold beer or two!
Photos: Sandra Puric