The Barcelona Beer Scene: Something's Brewing!

The Catalans and Barcelonins have been beer lovers for decades now, despite the region's association with Cava, the sparkling white wine heavily produced in the surrounding vineyards. Cerveza is the standard order with any light snack or tapas and - although a glass of vino tinto might be more common at a restaurant - once dinner is over, it's usually back to the brews. For a long time, right until the early 2010s, the choice of beers in Barcelona, especially in bars and restaurants was woefully limited, but thankfully now that's changed in a big way in more recent years with a number of specialist microbreweries and beer bars - known as cervecerias in Spanish - springing up around the city and offering a greater range of craft beers, IPAs, porters, ales, stouts and lagers. You'll find a list of some of the best below!

The Mass Market Giants

The one brand you'll never struggle to lay your hands on is Estrella Damm, which has been brewed in Barcelona since 1876 - their distinctive gold-starred red labels grace the taps of virtually every joint in the city. Locals normally prefer to drink it by the bottle, in cana-sized glasses, which are normally around 25-33cl, or even as canitas - smaller measures still. (However many Irish pubs and expat bars will serve it in half-litre or pint glasses, and a few more studenty places will even offer you a litre jug if you've really got a thirst on).

After going bankrupt in 1978, in 2004 Moritz relaunched the beer they first brewed in Barcelona back in 1856 (although the brewery itself is now in Zaragossa), and have recently succeeded in making a dent in Estrella's market dominance. It's a light pale beer made with saaz hops, and championed by some of the hipper bars in town. Other Spanish options widely available around town are San Miguel and Mahou (both brewed by the Mahou-San Miguel group), whilst Estrella Damm's darker cousin, Voll-Damm, is certainly worth an experimental sip or two.

Above: Whose round is it anyway?

For many foreigners, especially expats living in Barcelona, the choice between Estrella and Moritz don't represent the variety and quality they are accustomed to in the US, UK or Germany for example - where beer-making is a fine art and local produce is swelled by a huge import industry. Thankfully several savvy and passionate pub owners have cottoned on to the gap in the market and, despite the logistical difficulties in such a small import market, are succeeding in getting in some of the best brews from around the world behind their counters.

Furthermore, buoyed by the recent Catalan craft beer revolution, locals are starting to invest in their own independent and micro-breweries, often setting up a bar on the same premises (= win-win situation!), selling their own and guest brews to dedicated punters. Below we list some favourites for a draught of the good stuff...

Recommended Craft Beer Bars & Pubs

With more and more great beer venues to choose from, here are a few of our favourites. Click on the title links for our full reviews, complete with public opinions and location maps. We have also given the websites of most of the bars where they have them, however some are a little stuck in the 20th century... it's all part of their authentic charm.

CocoVail Beer Hall
Taking its cue from the much beloved beer halls of the American craft beer scene, this spacious venue just off the Passeig de Gracia is a drinkers delight with a total of 24 different taps offering everything IPAs, wheat beers, sours, and pale ales. Ninety percent of the beers on offer hail from Catalan and Spanish breweries, and locals might recognise signature cups like Hoptimista by Edge Brewing or Espiga's Pale Ale and Blonde Ale, three staples of the scene - although the taps are on constant rotation so don't get too attached to any of the brews! Aside from the drinks menu, CocoVail serves up superior bar snacks, in particular its 16 different shades of chicken wing, and has also become a haven of American sports.
C/Arago 284
www.cocovailbeerhall.com

Cerveceria Jazz
This traditional Spanish-style cerveseria (one of the first to open in the city!) can be found out in Poble Sec and has an excellent range of bottled beers, including local Catalan artesan beers, as well as some excellent German and Czech brews on tap. They also serve tasty burgers named after jazz crooners, if you're feeling peckish. Out of the roaming range of many tourists, C.J. is a good option for those seeking something more local. Closed on Sundays and Mondays, it tends to remains pretty tranquil until the weekend when you'll be hard pressed to grab a seat.
C/Margarit 43
www.cerveceriajazz.com

La Mes Petita
The smallest craft beer bar in Barcelona, and possibly the world... like a little puppy, La Mes Petita, is an adorable little thing you want to cosy up to as often as possible. With room for just seven seated customers inside, there's actually more beers on tap (eight) than sitting space, although there's also a couple of tables outside. Open every day from 6pm.
C/Diputacio 30

Cara B
Live music and artisan beers? Oh Cara B, you're really spoiling us. This Bohemian bar out in Gracia has a young and creative vibe about it, so don't go there expecting one of those swanky modern places replete with fancy decor, posh bar snacks and attentive service. Instead get a taste of an authentic Catalan-style bar with a great beer in hand.
C/Torrent de les flors, 36

Cat Bar
This oddball bar and vegan restaurant is also one of Barcelona's foremost pitstops for thirsty beer lovers. There's plenty of drops to choose from, the majority of which are craft/artesan or microbrewery beers, usually from Barcelona, Catalonia or Spain - so plenty of local and regional flavours to choose from, whether you fancy wheat beers, pale ales, stouts or even a spiced and toasted winter ale. Supplementing these are nine Brew Dogs beers, such as 'The Trashy Blonde', 'Punk IPA' and the superb 'Alice Porter', a sacred union of one 300-year-old recipe and two cross continental hop varieties.
C/Boria 17

Shenanigans
A tad more sophisticated than your average Celtic tavern, this dimly lit and homely pub, not far from Las Ramblas, serves not only Guinness and Murphys (as you might expect from an Irish bar) but a range of tasty international beers like Amstel and Paulaner, and five artesan beers including Sierra Nevada Torpedo and Pale Ale and Manchester Bitter. They also have a range of those delicious Swedish Rekorderlig ciders if you fancy a change!
C/Marques de Barbera 11
www.shenanigansbarcelona.com

Mosquito
Who'd have thought that Chinese dumplings and artesan ales would be one of Barcelona's biggest hits? Hipsters love this place, and in fact the only big problem with Mosquito is that you'll be hard pressed to get a table, especially at peak eating and drinking times. If you're happy to wait though you can pass by and have your name chalked up on the board (where they keep a waiting list) and then come back later.
C/Carders 48

Catalluna
Catalan and proud, this may be a basic neighbourhood style bar, but if you want to taste the fruits of the Catalonian beer revolution there are few finer selections available in the city. The owner Joaquim stocks over 90 regional bottled brews, with several great fermentations on tap - like Dougall's Tres Mares (an amber ale), or Santo Cristo's 1917 (a Russian Imperial stout).
C/Encarnacio 21
www.catalluna.cat

Recommended Tours

Tapas & Beers Tours
Looking for a genuine Catalan beer experience? You've just found it! On this highly-rated tour hop lovers are invited to join local brewer and connoisseur Oriol Jaumā as he shows travellers his favourite microbreweries and pubs (including one or two listed above!), whilst sharing some of his knowledge about production, history and the contemporary revolution. Great venues, great artesan ales and all in great company! Reasonably priced at €69 per person which includes five beers plus tapas, brewery tour and of course your expert guide.
www.tapasandbeers.com

Related Festivals

Barcelona Beer Festival
Held in the impressive confines of the Maritime Museum this fiesta to fermentation is a massive draw for both locals and international drinkers, who seem to enjoy the social aspect of the event as much as the tasting. It takes place in March every year, so one to put in your diary! And arrive early to get ahead of the masses.
www.barcelonabeerfestival.com

add your comments

NaparBCN though..!In Eixample, new concept, extraordinary decor, amazing food! Brewery, bar and restaurant or what would be called a brewpub. Loving the craft beer scene in Barcelona!

reviewed by Tasha from Spain on Apr.06.2016

In Eixample (BCN center) you can find a nice place Zythos Beer Barcelona, craft and local Beer, some tapas

reviewed by Nati from Spain on Aug.14.2015

Great article and helped guide us around the craft beer scene in Barcelona. Our favourites were Garage Beer Co near universitat and Biercab which is right next door. Will be back soon for sure!

reviewed by richard from United Kingdom on Jan.29.2015

Check out George and Dragon... the best beerbar in BCN (20 beers on tap and more than 50 on bottle).

reviewed by Jesper from Denmark on Mar.27.2013

Just a heads up for beer lovers visiting Barcelona, have a look here for our favorite beer bars (http://www.bcnmes.com/shortlist-archive-by-category-home/beer-cervecerias/), some of which we share with Barcelona Life :-) and some of which we hope they try soon!

reviewed by Joe from Spain on Jan.03.2013

La birreria, is a very cool bar located in Gracia, barcelona. Variety of beers, including gluten free. Excellent music and free popcorn!!
Riera de Sant Miquel 70 - Gracia.

reviewed by Victor from Spain on Nov.08.2012

Previous post is right on. There's a lot of activity on Barcelona's craft brew front. Here's our shortlist recommendation for Ale & Hop

reviewed by Joe from Spain on Oct.17.2012

Actually the real ale scene is quite vibrant in Barcelona. There are an incredible 30+ craft breweries in Catalunya and you can try some of them as well as international real ales......

La Cerveteca, c/gignas
Mosquito c/carders 46
4 pedres, badalona
Ale&Hop c/basses de sant pere, 10

And many more.......

reviewed by Giles from United States on Nov.25.2011