Barcelona Beer Bars & Pubs
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 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 student 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 above 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 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 passionate punters. Below we list some favourites for a draught of the good stuff...
Recommended Beer Bars & Brew Pubs
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This oddball bar and vegan restaurant is also one of Barcelona's foremost pitstops for thirsty beer lovers. There's a total of 34 drops to choose from, the majority of which are craft/artesan or microbrewery beers. 23 of the 34 are Spanish, 19 of the 23 Spanish ones are from Catalonia, and 8 of the 19 Catalan beers are from Barcelona itself - 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. They also have the original Czech Budvar.
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 delicious range of those Swedish Rekorderlig ciders if you fancy a change!
C/Marques de Barbera 11
The Loch Inn
Instead of Estrella Damm, here at Loch Inn they've gone for Estrella Galicia on tap - a vast improvement in our humble opinion. And rather than the usual international premier lagers served at expat joints, they've selected the marvelous original Czech Budva (from which the American Budweiser originated - however don't worry they are chalk and cheese in terms of taste!). Also on tap are the well-loved Fransizkaner and Leffe (Ruby) beers, whilst in the bottle you'll find various numbers by Scottish brewers BrewDog and a mouthwatering selection of ales such as Spitfire, East India Pale Ale and Bishop's Finger (which we have been assured is more appetizing than it sounds).
Passeig de Sant Joan 74
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.
This traditional Spanish-style cerveceria can be found out in Poble Sec and has an excellent range of bottled beers, including local Catalan artesan beers, and some German and Czech brews on tap. They also serve burgers named after jazz crooners. Tends to be closed early in the week, then gets busy during peak nights. Out of the range of many tourists so a good option for those seeking something more local.
Craft Beer Tour
Looking for a genuine Catalan beer experience? You've just found it! On this weekly tour (every Saturday) hop lovers are invited to join local brewer and connoisseur Oriol Lara as he shows travellers his favourite microbreweries and pubs, 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 €59 per person which includes five beers plus tapas, and of course your guide. Limited spaces each week, but simply email us to reserve your place.