Last Updated : 01/02/11
e decided, upon hearing of the beer revolution going on in North-East Spain, that a re-visit to Barcelona was required; here's the gen and a report might even appear... but I'd not hold your breath to be honest.
Barcelona beer Gen.
First off, the old guard. The multinationals still sell gazillions of litres of beer every week in Barcelona and are as follows;
Damm is almost omnipresent in Barcelona; I doubt there are many bars that don't serve it in one form or another. The usual beer, Estrella, is a standard piss-coloured eurolager and they also make Voll-Damm (7.2%) and Damm-Bok (5.4%), neither worth a go. They seem to be branching out into new beers, perhaps fearful of the market share being gobbled up by the new micros, and have recently released the bizarre Saaz (3.5%) in bottle which is a very unusual weak lager of indeterminate style or appeal, plus A.K Damm (4.8%), allegedly an "Alsace" lager which is thick and malty with a surprising amount of character for a huge brewer and, finally, the new Inedit, a Hoegaarden-style Belgian wheat, with far too much coriander and sweetness although at least they are trying...
... which can't be said for San Miguel, owned by Carlsberg with all the implications on taste that has, who still make a range of crappy pils-type fluids plus a beer made, allegedly, to the Rheinheitsgebot and called (appropriately) 1516 (4.2%); don't bother.
Moritz were a fairly major brewer based in the city until they stopped production in 1978 when "bad financial dealings brought about their downfall". The "brand" (you can see where this is going, can't you?) was re-launched in 2004 by descendents of the original owner, although the beer now comes from Zaragozana brewery. Apparently there are plans for a micro-brewery in the old buildings which are now called "Fábrica Moritz" (Ronda de Sant Antoni 39, 5 mins S of metro Universitat) although I have no gen on this as yet... Read this for a business-oriented look at the beer or here for a much better local take on the company. We didn't have time to visit - blame too many scoops! - but I've heard nothing about brewing so I doubt they are... or ever will? Oooh, so cynical so soon... You'll struggle to find Moritz on draught, bottled seems to be the way forwards for them, although It's widely available in supermarkets. Bar Seco has it on tap.
Barcelona beer venues.
Here are the new-wave bars and beer shops which have transformed the city during the last 12 months into a must-visit destination; see my Google map here.
/ 2D2Dspuma, C/Manigua 4-6. Bar open M-F 18:00-00:00, F-S 18:00-02:00, Sun closed. Shop open M-S 11:00-14:30, 18:00-21:30. ()
New beer shop & bar next to each other some way north of the city centre but reachable by metro or bus, this is your essential bar visit in Barcelona. The shop sells a huge range of beer from all over Europe - the Catalan range is good but not as extensive as Rosses I Torrades - and next door the bar has most of these available for drinking (the fridges are at the far end of the bar, just loiter and peer into them to see what's available) there plus three beers on tap (Agullons Pura Pale, Les Clandestines 4 Maltes and a De Molen IRS during our visit!). Prices are reasonable and the patatas bravas (not the traditional type, more fried lumps of potato which come with eight sauces!) is just what you need with beer and they're a bargain too. We spent an enjoyable evening's scooping sat at the end of the bar and I'd recommend you do the same... If you want to explore the Catalan micro scene this is the place to start bar-wise after stocking up on beers next door in the shop where the range complements Rosses I Torrades with several beers available here and not there. The essential bar visit in Barca.
In the North of the city reachable by bus (19/45/47/N1 to Pg Maragall-Segle XX) or Metro Congrés on line 5 (blue) / Maragall on line 4 (yellow). See my Barcelona Google map here!
/ La Cervecita Nuestra de Cada Dia, Llull 184. Open 11:30 - 14:00 and 17:00 - 22:00. ()
An unusual beer shop-cum-bar which has - in common with Rosses I Torrades and 2D2Dspuma - a huge range of Catalan micro-brews in bottle to take away. It also has three on tap and a fridge full of chilled beers to drink on-site (although if there isn't one in the fridge you can choose one from the shelf) and even a stack of homebrew kit which is so big it could theoretically be used commercially! The owner speaks decent English and is very keen on the local brews, so much so he has brewed his own house beer at Guineu which is full of lovely Centennial hops! It's a strange place and not that easy to find but make sure you do for one of the most sociable and real beer experiences in this very beery city; very highly recommended.
It's reasonably close to Llacuna station on Metro line 4 (yellow), see my Google map here for the exact location.
Rosses I Torrades - Celler de Cerveses, Consell de Cent 192 (where it crosses Calle Urgell), Tuesday to Friday 10:30-14:00 and 17:00-20:30. ()
Brand-new beer shop (opened in late 2010) with a whole wall of Catalan micro-brews in bottle make this one of the essential stops in Barcelona. In addition to the local brews there are UK (Brewdog etc), American, Belgian and German beers on sale but I imagine it's the local micros you'll be here for and there are loads... we bought 14 bottles (for very reasonable prices, around €3 per 33cl bottle) and left behind many more we wanted to scoop! The owner is very sociable, speaks good English and the range is simply astounding; micros from the Balearics, Galicia, Valencia and elsewhere in Spain complement the many Catalan beers. If you're after "room beers" then this should be your first choice and, as it's in the city centre, it's a lot easier to get to than 2D2Dspuma although visiting both shops is recommended as there are beers you won't find in the other at both locations! When beer shops are this good it's like being in Italy...
Near to Urguell Metro on line 1 (red); follow Urguell two blocks north and the shop is on your right.
Cerveceria El Flabiol, Rambla del Brasil 55. Open from 17:00-23:00, closed Sunday. ()
One of the stalwarts of Barcelona beer culture, Flabiol has been in operation for almost 30 years and, until fairly recently, concentrated solely on Belgian beers. Now the local beer revolution is in full swing the owner - who actually does look Belgian - has embraced this and offers, in addition to the 50+ Belgian brews and a range of other random stuff, around a dozen Catalan and other Spanish micro-brewed beers in bottle; we scooped beers from Dedues, Montmira, Bleder and Santa Margarida (which maybe a cuckoo brewery).
I'd read that the owner could be a strange bloke but all I can say is the visitors who said this must have been right obnoxious twats as he was a model of civility and information and freely dispensed gen about the various bottles he had. There was an obvious pride in his beer range which, if I'd been after Belgian beer wasn't bad at all, and the little chip fryer behind the bar gets cranked up if you ask for some patatas bravas which are, in this case, Belgian-style frites with spiced tomato sauce! Overall, then, highly recommended for a visit as there were some beers here we didn't see anywhere else, even in the various beer shops, and it deserves support for the characterful personality of the bar which isn't like many others I've ever been to!
A ten-minute walk from Metro Badal on L5 (blue) or, much easier, take bus 54 to Av. Madrid/Església de Santa Tecla just around the corner on Avinguda de Madrid; this bus passes through Paseig de Gràcia along the Gran Via from Estacio del Nord.
/ La Cerveteca, Gignàs 25. Open Mon-Tue 16:00-22:00, Wed-Sun 12:00-22:00. ()
This relatively new (2010) bar-cum-beer shop has a good range of world beers in stock including some local micro-brewed beers from the likes of Agullons and Guineu. Beers can be drunk on-site; choose your bottle from the fridge or shelves! There are also beers on tap although the blackboard unhelpfully lists just the beer name not the brewery and, during our visit, they were almost all German lagers meaning I totally ignored them! A strange place which seems to be missing a trick in not showcasing local micro beer right in the city centre.
Close to the huge post office building in the Barri Gotic and not far from Barcelonetta and El Vaso de Oro with the closest metro probably being Jaume I although this is still a fair trek south along Laietana away.
Bar Seco, Passeig del Montjuic 74. Open M-W 09:00-20:00, T 09:00-01:00, F 09:00-02:00, S-Su 12:00-01:00. ()
Not really a beer bar as such more a street-corner cafe which happens to serve craft beer! It's also one of the rare places you'll see Moritz on tap and the current bottled beers are lined up alongside the taps making choosing easy as the owner doesn't speak English! Llúpols i Llevats (Glops), the local micro, was represented by three beers plus a couple from Montseny (CCM) meaning if you're in the area you'll probably get a scoop; not an essential visit but worth the walk up the hill from Paral-lel in my opinion.
Situated up Carrer Nou de la Rambla from Paral-lel, only a five-minute walk from Metro lines 2 (purple) or 3 (green).
There are a few more places we didn't get chance to try, as usual if you visit we'd love a report!
Colmado Quilez, Rambla de Catalunya 63. Old-fashioned shop with what sounds to be an impressive range of Catalan microbrews in stock. Metro L3 to Passeig de Gràcia.
Cervezas Moritz, Ronda de Sant Antoni 39. I don’t think they have restarted brewing…? Follow Ronda de San Antonia south from Universitat Metro station (lines 1 or 2).
Mosquito, Calle Carders 46. Dim sum and Glops/Bleder beer in the Barri Gotic.
Cervezas VIP, Calle Valencia 650. Beer shop which sounds like it stocks local micro-brewed beers. Out in the east near Clot RENFE and Metro station (lines 1 or 2).
Bodega Bonavista, Calle Bonavista 10. Wine shop with some local micro beers in bottle not far from Cervesera Artesana.
Don't forget these brewpubs (well, one brewpub and one maybe) which we didn't have time to re-visit owing to the number of other winners!
El Vaso de Oro, Carrer de Balboa, Barcelonetta. Open 09:00 - 00:00 daily. () We didn't have time to re-visit so any updates would be welcome!
From the outside it doesn't look much, but inside it's amazing - there is barely enough space to stand in front of the bar (except at the ends where the bar finishes) and it's full of character - and characters, including the riotous barmen in their amusing captains’ shirts. The beer is served from a huge steel dispenser with no labels on it into tall flutes. Invest in some of the excellent tapas available at the bar - if you can manage to squeeze along to see them! I think it opens from 09:00 until 00:00; very sociable, and although we saw not a sniff of a brewery this means nothing and the beer was good. I hear reports that say the beer is brewed nearby, not in the pub, making it not a brewpub but a brewery tap but most reports do say they brew their own; if anyone sees anything looking like a brewery let me know, please!
This cracking little bar (the name means "the glass of Gold") is close to Barcelonetta metro station and vaguely close to França RENFE station; from the metro cross the busy dual carriageway (Ronda del Litoral) heading away from the centre along Plaça del Pau Vila and Carrer de Balboa is the first left with the bar being 10 metres on the right. It's not a million miles from la Cerveteca either.
La Cervesera Artesana, Calle Sant Agustí 14. Mon-Thur 18:00 to 02:00, Fri & Sat 18:00-03:00, closed Sundays. () We didn't have time to re-visit so any updates would be welcome!
I had high hopes for this place with the beers being made with decent ingredients but it was a bit of a let-down; fairly expensive beer (EUR 2.20 for a very badly-filled half pint) and the brews themselves were disappointingly mediocre, even the Iberian Stout. They do four beers at a time - Iberian Pale Ale, Iberian Stout, Rubia (golden) ale and a special (Honey on our visit, the best of the four) and the small brewing kit is on show in a room at the back. It opens from 18:00 until the early hours but is closed Sunday.
Off Calle Corsega, just north of Diagonal, about five minutes from Diagonal Metro (lines 3 (green) or 5 (blue)).
To say there's a beer scene there would be pushing things slightly, however a superb-sounding bar is there. I say "sounding" as we got as far as the closed shutters with a sign saying "closed for holidays until February" which their website hadn't mentioned... cheers then! Despite being the gateway airport for the Costa Brava and all that entails Girona itself is a lovely little town with very atmospheric winding beige streets and a strange shallow river which looks like a concrete drain!
If you can get a cheap Ryanair ticket here it's a workable option to get to Barcelona as the bus from the airport to town is cheap (€2.50 or so) and runs at xx:30 (xx:00 back) straight to the bus station next door to the rail station and takes around 25 minutes. From there, either indulge in B*12 and/or take the regular trains to Barcelona which take just over an hour and cost from €6.80 for slower ones to €9.20 for the faster ones.
If you need to stop over, try the Meliá Girona, Calle Barcelona 112, which is only ten minutes on foot from both B*12 and the rail station and, if you get a decent deal, a bargain for it's four-star comfort. It's situated out of the centre but is the closest big hotel to the town's only serious beer bar.
B*12 vegan café, Carrer de la Ruttla 147. Open 08:00->21:00 daily, until 23:00 Friday, closed all weekend!
This cafe is out of the centre of Girona, a ten-minute walk from the station, in a residencial area and sounds great; vegan food, 30+ Catalan micros in bottle and free wi-fi! If only it hadn't have been closed for holidays... ah well, maybe next time!
Ten minutes from the station, you really need a map; see mine here.
Also in Girona, this time right in the old town, find the superbly old-fashioned shop Colmado Moriscot at Calle Ciutadans 4 where a small but decent range of Catalan micro beers can be bought including Almogàver, Rosita and the French micro which allies itself with the Catalan scene Cap d'Ona.
Most low-cost airlines will get you to Barcelona these days even if they bend the rules of geography slightly in their destinations. easyJet fly from the three London airports (Stansted, Gatwick and Luton) in addition to Liverpool, Bristol, Belfast and Newcastle. Air Berlin fly from Stansted, plus Jet2 go from Leeds/Bradford. Add to this Ryanair who fly to all three local airports; Barcelona from Leeds/Bradford, Girona (45m northeast and a tourist destination in it’s own right) from London Stansted, Birmingham, Bournemouth, Liverpool, Bristol and East Midlands plus they also fly to Reus (50m southwest of Barcelona) from East Midlands, Bristol, Liverpool and Birmingham.
I wouldn’t even consider any other way of getting to Barcelona; it’s the wrong side of Spain for ferries and it’s a long way to drive! One option would be to fly to Madrid then overnight it on the train into town or even fly to southern France and train it in from there – the run through the Pyrenees and along the coast is very impressive indeed. You could, as a last resort, coach it with Eurolines (part of National Express) although 27 hours on a bus (for £60 single) isn’t my idea of a good start to an exploration of a city – give me Luton airport any day, and that’s really saying something…
Barcelona is an easy city to navigate – it’s deceptively big but the old town is small enough to walk across in 15 minutes and the rest of the suburbs, such as Eixample, are laid out in a grid pattern which makes navigating easy. An impressive public transport system is provided by TMB who operate the ever-expanding and efficient metro (underground), two tram lines (which don't go anywhere useful and are therefore only of interest if you want to scoop them!) and three funiculars. We bought a 3-day pass for €15.60 (there are also 2, 4 and 5 day passes available) which was valid from the airport, on all the metros and the FGC trains, all trams (except the Tramvia Blau which costs extra – pay on the tram) and funiculars; all in all excellent value considering the airport rail transfer is included; buy these tickets from the information desk in airport arrivals or wherever you see the TMB logo. Note that only certain ticket machines will sell these tickets; check those at Metro stations (which have an English option) and you should find one which does or, probably easier, go to the ticket desk if you can find one which is open!
See the ever useful to and from the airport website for more details and TMB’s website which is pretty damn good and has a full list of tickets available as well as a very useful maps section where you can plan moves beforehand, although maps are free from ticket offices if you ask.
© Gazza 01/02/2011