Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Barcelona Craft Beer - A new way to enjoy the local bars

There is a growing movement in Barcelona that features an everyday item so common that most people didn’t even notice the movement began: beer. Spain is a country that is usually associated with wine, this is true. And rightly so, given that no other country in Europe has as many acres of planted vineyards. But beer has always been a big part of the culture as well. Sitting on a patio or in a plaza sipping a cold beer with friends is an easy way to spend a sunny afternoon. And there are a lot of sunny afternoons in Barcelona. But over the past few years there has been a growing movement away from the commercial breweries like Estrella and San Miguel, and towards craft brews. The movement is especially noticeable in Barcelona, where there are more microbrewers than anywhere else in Spain. Earlier this month they held a Barcelona Beer Festival at the Arenas Shopping Centre, and it was extremely popular. But for those people who missed it, don’t despair! There are still a number of great places that have sprung up or been redone toward this emerging sector.


The following list is by no means exhaustive - there are lots of great places to delve into the exploding craft beer culture in and around Barcelona - but here is my list of the top 5 places to get your hands on some truly delicious local beers in the city:
15) La Cerveteca. One of the first and perhaps most well-known of the beer bars, it’s located right next to the Correos bulding at the end of Via Laietana. It’s small, and the lack of table space and seats can make it seem crowded, but it has a great atmosphere and the bartenders are always willing to help. A good selection from both abroad and local beers to take home as well. Light food is served, but it’s location makes it ideal for a stop before, during or after going out for tapas in the city.
24) 2D2D Spuma. A bit off the beaten track, it’s name refers to the two fingers of head a properly poured pint should have. This combination beer store/homebrewing shop and bar (only open in the evening) may be a little out of the way, but it is easy to get to and their selection to take home is the best in the city. This is the kind of place you want to go to if you are serious about getting some of the best local beers. They also have a lot of information about the goings-on in the world of craft beer in Barcelona.
33) La Cervesera Artesana. Barcelona’s only brewpub. Just off the Passeig de Gracia on a street heading up into the Gracia district is Barcelona's own Cervesera Artesana Brewpub, La Cervesera Artesana. Tucked into a quiet street and boasting a line of beers produced onsite, including one “berwer’s special” beer that rotates with the other styles. The food is good too, albeit a little more expensive than I was hoping to pay.
42) George and Dragon. Okay, it’s got an English name. And at first glance it seems like a standard pub. Until you realize that they have 20 different beers on tap, not to mention a fantastic selection of local and imported craft beers. They do tastings as well. Just off Passeig de Gracia on Carrer Diputacion, it is easy to get to from anywhere in the city, and the bartenders are happy to help you decide which beer to drink next. Oh, and the food is really good too. 
51) The Drunk Monk. Okay, technically this is not in Barcelona proper. Nor is it specifically for local beer. It’s in the town of Mataro, about 30 minutes north of the city on the train and it's a Belgian beer bar. But no list of quality craft beer establishments is complete without it. The Drunk Monk may not be in the city, but it is definitely worth the trip out on the bus or the train for any lover of quality beer. The owner, Sven, is a Belgian expat who has put together a spectacular place that has been voted the best in Spain, and for good reason. The bar is a meeting place for local industry insiders, afficionados,  homebrewers, and people who love great beer. All this without the pretentiousness that might come  They have a range of activities from tastings to food and wine pairings and their beer menu is the best I've seen in Spain. 

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