Revolution Brewing in Barcelona
Spain is well known for its wine, but what about beer? We recently visited Barcelona to find out. Beer and tapas are a part of Barcelona’s identity; like cafes in Paris, you will find a cerveceria on every corner. Unfortunately, most of them serve standard, limited flavored lagers. We are happy to report that this is beginning to change.
There is a revolution brewing in Barcelona, and not just the plight of Catalonia to secede from Spain. Local artesian craft breweries and beer bars are introducing the city to beer with more body, flavor, and hoppy bitterness. With the passion we saw, I’m sure they will succeed in making Barcelona a good beer destination.
Our trip wasn’t just about beer so I didn’t attempt to find every good beer spot. Nevertheless, here is what we found.
We started with a visit to Cerveceria Fabrique Moritz, a historic Barcelona beer that was re-introduced in 2004 after closing down in the late 70’s. The majority of their beer is produced under license outside of Barcelona; however they rehabilitated their original brewery into an upscale brewpub. They’ve done an amazing job updating the building while keeping remnants of the buildings past; blending the modern lighting, glass, copper kettles, and vintage advertising art, with the original 19th century brick building. On the way to the basement restrooms they’ve even provided a glass floor so you can see the original foundation.
The food was great at Moritz, some of the best tapas we had in Barcelona. They had two of their own beers on tap: Moritz and Epidor. The Moritz was an easy drinking crisp sweet lager with a mineral finish. The Epidor was an amber lager that had a more pronounced hop and mineral finish. Though nothing special, they were both better than the other Spanish lagers we had. I really liked the Moritz “hybrid”, which is a 50/50 mix of the two.
Iberian La Cervesera Artesana
Located in the Grácia neighborhoodIberian La Cervesera Artesana advertises themselves as being Barcelona’s only Microbrewery. Though they are not the only Microbrewery, they are the only Micro Brewpub in Barcelona. The English style pub is cozy, with brick walls, wood bar, and decked out in traditional burgundy and green. In the rear of the building, behind a wall of windows the brewing equipment is on prominent display. The staff was friendly, and from what we could tell with our limited Spanish were knowledgeable about beer.
Besides their own beer, they had a few European beers on tap, and a large bottle selection from around the world. (Including Duff, and Great Divide). They had four of their own beers on tap, all of which were good. The Rossa was refreshing citrusy blonde ale that was perfect after a warm afternoon in Parc Guell. My favorite was the Maca, a medium bodied British Bitter with an earthy malt and floral hop taste. Cindy preferred the Negra, a very dark porter with a big roasted malt and smoky flavor. We both liked the smooth and robust Boletus smoked stout.
Like a beacon, the blaring AC/DC drew me in to this Barri Gòtic bar and bottle shop. However, it was the beer that kept me coming back to La Cerveteca. It is one of the best beer bar/bottle shop in Barcelona. They had ten taps from Spain, Italy, Germany and one American beer, and a decent selection of local and international beers in bottles. As a card carrying member of the Rogue Nation, I was happy to see Rogue Mogul on tap and a prominent display of Rogue cases. Though being fairly small, the bar was always packed with people, showing that the beer scene is beginning to take hold. The two standout beers I had here were the local Holz Supporter, a very good porter, and the Italian Brewfist/Beer Here Collaboration Caterpillar, an American Pale Ale that has a 94 overall rating on Rate Beer.
As a beer supply store and manufacturer of brewing equipment Ca L’Arenysis helping arm the craft beer revolution in Barcelona. Under the name Guineu, they are also producing some fine beer. We purchased a few bottles form La Cerveteca and took them back to our apartment.
Rocaters – Abbey Ale
Pours cloudy dark amber, little head and has a bready caramel nose. The flavor was sweet caramel up front and finished fairly bitter. It reminds me of a good homebrew. We both liked it. I wouldn’t say it up there with the beers we are used to, but it holds its own, and has way more flavor than most of the beer in Barcelona.
In the glass it was dark brown with a thin tan head and a sweet chocolate aroma. It tasted like it smells, and has a bit more bitter hop present than most stouts. The mouth feel was a little thin, but the carbonation is just right. It’s a great dessert beer and goes real well with the dark chocolate we bought.
Antius English Bitter
It was a semi-opaque copper, with a thick white head, and a fruity aroma. The taste started with candy and finished with dry citrus hop bitterness. Okay, but not something I’d go back to.
A cloudy golden ale, with a slight pinkish tint, a thin white head, and a bready/floral aroma. Bready, grassy malt taste followed by citrusy and floral hop bitterness. For a super session beer, 2.5%ABV, this beer has a lot of flavor and more body than expected. I could drink a lot of these.
Thinking they were in Barcelona, I reached out to visit their brewery. Xavier responded quickly and agreed to a tour. After discovering they were a couple of hours away I decided that we weren’t up the trip. Not wanting to let us down, Xavier came up with a great alternative. He hooked us up with his friends at Cervezas Fort in Barcelona and helped arrange an appointment.
After a 20 minute Metro ride we arrived in the l’Hospitalet neighborhood, a residential and light industrial area that probably doesn’t see a lot of tourists. A brief walk from the station, we arrived at the door of Cervezas Fort. We found our way in, went to the second floor, and met up with brewer Federico Gorgone. We were happy to find that Federico spoke English. He showed us the small, 600 liter (5 barrel) brewery that contained everything to brew beer as well as storage, office space, and bottling. He took us out on the back roof top and showed us where they hoped to soon expand. Oh yeah, and he told us that the brewery had only been operating for a month.
Soon after our arrival owner, Gabriel Segovia, walked in; Federico introduced us and helped translate. Gabriel knows a thing or two about beer; his father opened El Vaso de Oro fifty years ago. Now in its third generation of ownership, El Vaso de Oro was the pioneer of the tapas selling 500 liters of beer a day. Sadly, they were closed for vacation and we were unable to experience the Gold Cup. I see a need for a return trip
Gabriel and Federico spent over an hour with us; taking time to tell us about the craft beer movement in Barcelona while they chilled a couple of beers for us to try. Federico said that they are trying to put the home brew culture into their brewery, doing everything from the heart, and putting soul into the beer. Their goal is to break into the “Lager Crowd” and educate them to good beer with bitter hops. They plan to add a tap at the El Vaso de Oro to help. Since Spain grows very little hops, the people are just not used to the flavors that they provide. The good news we heard was that Barcelona’s first craft beer festival this year was very popular.
They opened a couple of bottles of their American Pale Ale for us. It was good; fairly grassy upfront with a nice floral finish, unfiltered so there was a little residual yeast flavor. Being so new, they say they are still tweaking their recipes. Gabriel led us back to the fermentation tanks, and took a sample of a single hopped version of the pale ale. Darn, it was real good!
Llúpios I Llevats – Glops
Talk about two birds with one stone, across the hall from Fort sits Llúpios I Llevatsthe brewers of the Glops brand of Cervesa natural artesana. Cerveser (Brewer) Àlex Padró was introduced to us as the founder of craft beer in Barcelona. He started with a 150 liter brewery 5 years ago, and has since doubled his capacity to 300 liters. Though he was busy, he showed us around his micro-brewery allowing us to peek inside one of the fermenters, and watch his bottler work. He kindly gave us some coasters and buttons, and we were on our way.
Ale & Hop
It was our last night in Barcelona, and we had time for one more beer. We set out to find Ale & Hop in Barri Gòtic that Federico had recommended. We had a rough idea of where it was, but the small alley like streets can get a little confusing. On this night, my beer positioning system (BPS) was in fine working order, and we made it directly there. It’s a quaint bar with a few bar stools and back area with a several tables. They had ten or so beers on tap and a good bottle list. It had a friendly vibe, tasty food, and good beer, making it a must stop for any beer traveler. If I had another night in Barcelona, I would have gone back.
I look forward to one day returning to Barcelona and seeing what becomes of their bubbling beer scene.