UK: Can UK-Brewed Beer Be Deemed Spanish?

Since its debut in 2020, Madrí Excepcional has been a hit with British beer drinkers, offering what it claims to be a taste of Spain right in U.K. pubs. However, this claim has stirred controversy, particularly from Aitor de Artaza, CEO of Estrella Galicia, who challenges its authenticity.

Madrí Excepcional was developed through a collaboration between Molson Coors and the Spanish brewery La Sagra. Despite its strong Spanish branding, the beer is produced entirely in the United Kingdom. This decision has led to significant commercial success, with Madrí recently achieving over GBP100 million (USD 127m) in supermarket sales across the UK.

The branding utilizes the name “Madrí,” reflecting the traditional pronunciation of Madrid, to enhance its image as an authentic Spanish product. The packaging features the “Chulapo,” a traditional bohemian figure from Madrid, to attract British consumers who are increasingly interested in premium international beers.

Critics point out that Molson Coors has owned La Sagra since 2017 (, 30.1.2017), and there is no mention of Coors on Madrí’s marketing materials. This, combined with the fact that Madrí is brewed entirely in the UK, has led to accusations of misleading advertising. Aitor de Artaza has been outspoken about this issue, claiming that Madrí’s marketing tactics are deceiving consumers. “Using a famous Spanish city in their branding without actually brewing there is misleading and confuses consumers,” de Artaza argues.

De Artaza’s concerns highlight a broader trend within the beer industry, where many beers marketed as international or exotic are actually brewed domestically. This practice is not uncommon, with brands like Birra Moretti and Corona also producing their beers in the UK. He believes that Madrí’s marketing gives a false impression of its origins, leading consumers to think they are drinking a Spanish-made beer.

Karen Albert, Premium Brands Director at Molson Coors, defended Madrí Excepcional, explaining that the beer was created in collaboration with La Sagra Brewery near Madrid. She emphasized that brewing the beer in the UK allows for efficient distribution, quick response to market demands, and a reduced environmental footprint. All of Molson Coors’ beers in the UK are produced using 100% renewable electricity, which Albert cites as a significant sustainability benefit.

Despite the brewing location, Madrí Excepcional continues to market itself as a Spanish beer, capitalizing on its Spanish connections and branding to attract consumers. This brings up a critical question: can a beer brewed entirely in the UK truly be considered Spanish? The answer hinges on the transparency of the brand’s marketing and how consumers perceive authenticity.

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