Mashtuns on Tour - Exploring Barcelona | Mashtun and Meow: Sheffield Beer Blog

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Mashtuns on Tour - Exploring Barcelona

In a city that oozes history from each and every rambling street, a new and exciting modern beer scene is beginning to emerge. Our hosts for the week, the team from Instituto de la Cerveza Artesana (ICA) in the south of the city, informed us that just a few years ago craft beer was almost unseen in Barcelona (their own bar, Abirradero, opened in 2015), yet today – if you know where to look – there are numerous hidden gems and a real underground culture just waiting to be discovered by the discerning beer drinker.

Here are just a few that we visited, all of which we would hugely recommend:

Abirradero



A short walk outside the main city centre, in the area of Poble Sec, and an absolutely incredible bar. 40 taps showcase a huge array of some of the most innovative beers we've ever come across, mostly brewed at ICA, ranging from ice cream stouts to berry berliners via Belgian New England IPAs and everything in between. Literally every beer we tried of ICA's massive range completely hit the mark - we really can't recommend this bar highly enough.


The food menu was just as varied, and in the few days we spent in Barcelona we were lucky enough to work our way through most of it, much of which incorporates beer into the dishes. Particular highlights for us were the rich and luxurious oxtail, braised for hours in Belgian Quadrupel, the “Fisherman’s Rice” with mussels, clams and enormous, juicy prawns, and the stout infused “Birramisu”.


The “Musico cervecero” was a wonderful Catalan experience – nuts, fruits and raisins served alongside a “porron” (a drinking vessel we’ve never encountered before!) filled with ICA's delicious Belgian Quad, which was passed around the group and shared in a celebration of friendship. The absolute perfect way to end an evening!



Garage Beer Co


Two venues in one here! Garage started life as a brewpub in central Barcelona, but has recently made the move to a larger production brewery in the Sant Andreu suburb of the city. Known for their American-style brewing, and producing mostly hop-forward pale ales, they are a popular choice in Barcelona with locals and tourists alike.


We visited the new brewery first, at an exciting time for the team as they've recently started canning, and have just installed their own (very shiny) canning line - we tried some fresh cans of Middle Child (5%), an Ekuanot single hopped IPA, which was incredibly vibrant and a fantastic fruity thirst quencher. The new facility has enabled them to up production substantially already, but they still have plenty of space to expand into in future, a good sign given the inevitable growth of Spanish craft beer. A bar on the premises currently only opens for special events, but is a great space - modern and spacious, with a feature window looking through onto their barrel store and foeder (which was due to be filled for the first time the week after our visit).


The brewpub is still open as a bar, with the small kit currently not in use, although brewer Joe informed us that they do hope to use this for more experimental brews in the future. As a bar, it's fantastic - a laid back, relaxed atmosphere, with quirky artwork adorning the walls and ten of their own beers on tap.


Black Lab


Let's face it, we were always going to have a nice time in a bar named after a pet! The black lab in question, Lola, sadly wasn't present when we popped by but we enjoyed a tour around the brewkit with owner and head brewer Matt, who hails originally from America. All beer made on the premises in sold on the premises, quite out of choice to ensure that the beer is always looked after and served in exactly the way Matt and the team intend.


Their core range is relatively small without being limiting, led by their flagship IPA Claudia (7%). To keep things that bit more exciting, they also have an entire menu dedicated to beer cocktails and "beer with a surprise" - Laura loved the raspberry Berliner Weisse Sour Lady (4.3%) served with a shot of white chocolate syrup!

The bar itself is down by the harbour in a trendy part of the city - a great place to relax and enjoy some beers, and beer infused food (try the nachos with beer cheese sauce!) after a few hours on the beach.

NaparBCN


With a post-industrial, "diesel punk" feel, and serving modern and progressive beers from around the globe, we felt more like we were in an American rock bar than in the centre of Barcelona. NaparBCN is a brewpub branch of the larger NaparBier, with around half of the beers on the menu brewed on site - our favourite was the Breakfast of Champions Pancake IPA (7%). The guest selection was impressive, with beers from renowned breweries such as Hill Farmstead, Jolly Pumpkin and Alesmith.


We didn't have chance to try the food during our trip, but discovered the kitchen is run by Michelin-starred chef Miquel Aldana. One we've bookmarked for our next visit!


Brewpub le Sec


Tucked away up a side street, this rustic brewpub was a complete polar opposite to the industrial sheen of the other breweries we've mentioned in this post, but it had a charm all of it's very own.


Despite it's small size, the beers brewed on site packed a mighty punch - the MegaSeth Session IPA (3.4%), hopped with Magnum and Simcoe, had bags of flavour and the IPAtti Smith (5.5%) was a lemony Sorachi Ace dream. Well worth seeking out.

Homo Sibaris


Run by the charismatic and very knowledgeable Guillem, Homo Sibaris is a small but bustling bar located a short walk from the Sants train station.

The beer range is impressive, with a wide selection of local brews showcased alongside a few carefully chosen international beers. The bar does food despite having an absolutely tiny kitchen - we had one of the best cheese boards we've ever eaten, comprised entirely of locally sourced produce.


This seemed to be a real "regulars" pub, with everyone in there chatting to each other, sharing drinks, and Guillem behind the bar boosting an already brilliant atmosphere. We were quickly invited to join in the beery chat and treated to a bottle of Reptilian's Apokalypse Imperial Stout to share around our group. We were made to feel so welcome, and it was just a great bar to while away an evening - it knows it's strengths, sticks to them, and does a bloody good job of it.


Obviously this isn't an exhaustive list - other bars we enjoyed included Kaelderkold, Mikkeller BCN, El Drapaire and Bier Cab, but we feel the selection above gives a good indication of the whole spectrum of the Barcelona beer scene.

We visited Barcelona on a business trip - an enormous thank you to Abbeydale Brewery for the opporunity, and for trusting us with the company's first ever international event (you can read more about that here!) and to Dani, Ivo, Nacho and the rest of the team at ICA and Abirradero for being so welcoming and looking after us so well. We had an absolute blast, built some wonderful friendships, and it's definitely a city we plan on heading back to as soon as we can!

Cheers,

Jim and Laura