‘Spanish’ beer Madrí, brewed in the United Kingdom, faces accusations of dishonesty by Estrella

Since 2020, British drinkers have flocked to the exotic-sounding Madrí beer, seeking a taste of Spain in UK pubs. One person unlikely to toast the drink is the boss of rival Estrella, who is fed up with British-brewed beer stealing his market share.

Madrí was created as a collaboration between owner Molson Coors and Spanish brewery La Sagra. It has been hugely successful and recently surpassed £100 million in UK supermarket sales.

Naturally, Madrí (written to match the traditional way of pronouncing Madrid, the capital of Spain) relies on the European brewer to market the beer. There’s no mention of the link to Coors on the brand’s About page, nor that the Canadian-American beer giant has also owned La Sagra since 2017.

Instead, the brand devotes ample space to Madrí’s cover star, the “Chulapo,” a type of local bohemian figure known for his “elaborate style,” Madrí says.

It’s all part of a story intended to appeal to British consumers who have become partial to a greater percentage of “world beers” in recent years.

However, the beer, which launched in pubs three years ago and has become a leading brand in the country, is brewed entirely in the UK, raising questions about its heritage and how it is marketed.

Those who don’t like Coors don’t think it’s an accident. One of those voices is that of Estrella’s boss, Aitor de Artaza, who has his own interest in pointing out the slightly uncomfortable story of Madrí’s origin.

Talking with him Telegraph, The president of Estrella, owned by the Spanish group SA Damm, did not mince words after seeing how consumers opted for its new rival.

“There is a lack of transparency because they use a large famous city in Spain, but they do not produce here. This is confusing for the consumer,” he said of Artaza.

“They did a very good job in terms of marketing, that’s for sure. But it’s a bit complicated because people think they’re drinking a Spanish beer and they’re not. “They are not very clear and, from my point of view, they are not very honest.”

A Molson Coors representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Talking with him Telegraph, The director of premium brands at Molson Coors, Karen Albert, highlighted that Madrí was a collaboration between the group and the Madrid brewery La Sagra.

Albert added that brewing in the UK allowed him to deliver efficiently and respond to demand.

“Brewing Madrí Exceptional here in the UK allows us to deliver efficiently, respond quickly to demand and, most importantly, produce our beers more sustainably,” he said.

Rule of origin

Madrí Exceptional is one of several beverage brands owned by Molson Coors, a $10.6 billion multinational based in Chicago, Illinois. The company also owns brands such as Coors Light, Carling and Grolsch.

Coors is fashionable in marketing its beers with a geographically ambiguous origin story. The brewery developed Blue Moon, a “Belgian-style wheat beer” that was first developed in Denver, Colorado.

More generally, big international brewers have increasingly chosen to brew in the UK, at least for British customers, including Italy’s Birra Moretti and Australia’s Fosters.

It’s unclear how many drinkers are aware that Madrí’s identity is not all it seems. As the European Football Championship gets underway and UK drinkers flock to the pubs, Estrella’s boss hopes he can inspire some pre-match chatter.

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