In the epilogue of V., Stencil’s headed off to lunch or something with Maijstral when he’s intercepted by someone who seems to be “a Greek Pope or parish priest.” They abandon Maijstral and proceed down an alley, and the priest pulls off his beard and skull cap, revealing himself as Demivolt, one of Stencil’s spy compadres from Whitehall. Page 469/470 (with a couple paragraphs skipped in the middle):
Demivolt removed the soutane and rolled his paraphernalia in it. Underneath he wore a suit of English tweed. After quickly recombing his hair and twirling his moustache, he looked no different from the Demivolt Stencil had last seen in ’99. Except for more gray in the hair, a few more lines in the face. They took seats at the Cafe Phoenicia, Stencil with his back to the street. Briefly, over Barcelona beer each filled the other in on the two decades between the Vheissu affair and here, voices monotone against the measured frenzy of the street.
Barcelona beer most likely means Estrella, which has been brewed there since the establishment of the S. A. Damm brewing company in 1876. Estrella is Catalan for star, and is it grasping too desperately at straws if I point out that a star is made up of five little Vs? Yes okay bit over keen maybe. It’s brewed with pearl rice in the mix, a bit like Budweiser. Tastes like Budweiser too, if I’m remembering Bud right. Crisp, bright, sweet, clean. Not real interesting, but pretty good as far as cheap lagers go. If I were a spy sitting in the sun at a Maltese cafe catching up on spy gossip, I’d happily quaff a few Estrella’s.
UPDATE: Someone conscientiously pointed out to me on twitter that Moritz was another possible Barcelona beer, so I’ve returned to do the responsible thing and sample that too. Moritz is a bit more interesting than Estrella, with a hoppier pilsner flavour and a stronger sweet malt finish. But for a thirst-quenching pleasant cheapish lager, I’d probably prefer the Estrella. Oh and the typographical symbolism plot thickens! That Moritz M sure does resemble two Vs, doesn’t it?