Written by Jeremy Storton
An Oregonian and an Argentinian walked into a bar in Spain. This is not the beginning of a bad joke—it’s a true story of an Oregonian who is slowly influencing the world one beer at a time.
For the past decade, Oregon-style beer has flowed into pint glasses in Valencia, Spain. Meet Mauricio Mata. Like many of us, he discovered home brewing on the weekends while living in Salem. Life challenges sent him to Spain for three months to reevaluate his life plan. Spain was a place of his youth, where his late father took him on trips along the Mediterranean coast to look at stone castles. As many Oregonians would do, he walked into a bar and ordered a Guinness, which was spoiled and tasted awful. That crappy beer gave way to conversation with the bartender from Argentina, who just happened to have gone to school in Eugene.
You’ll never taste a beer like you will in Oregon,” the Argentinian told him. Mata agreed. “That’s what actually triggered the whole idea,” Mata said. “Doing the whole adventure, and going back, selling the place, buying the brewery and doing the whole thing. It just sparked it. I was just thinking, ‘Oh man, if I don’t open up a brewery here, somebody else is going to do it.
After learning commercial brewing techniques at McMenamins in Portland and picking up some finer points with John Maier of Rogue Brewing in Newport, Mata bought a seven-barrel system from a brewery in Port Townsend, Washington. He stuffed it into a container and shipped it to Valencia in 2005. Once there he built Stonecastle Brewing to honor his father. Two years later he opened Portland Ale House to honor his love of Oregon beer and to signify the style of beer he would brew. Such beers include Stone Castle Amber Ale, an obligatory IPA and an orange wheat with Valencia orange peels dried in the sun.
Since Valencia is a land of sunny, coastal weather and macro-brewed lagers, he is surprised that his IPA has been such a big hit. “I get a lot of compliments on the beer,” Mata explained. “I specifically have people just coming for the IPA. It was a lot more than I expected.” Mata’s beer has gone over so well in Valencia that he doesn’t need a website. Turns out all anyone needs for great word-of-mouth-marketing in Spain is a Facebook page and some good Oregon style beer. Viva España!