Craft beer is an international movement and here in Barcelona, craft beer bars have become as integral to Catalan drinking culture as a glass of cava, a shot of ratafia after a good meal, or “doing a vermut” with friends.
Barcelona isn’t Timbuktu. It’s a world city, with its own BrewDog and whole bars dedicated specifically to Belgian beer, but here are some local spots where you won’t fail to get to the bottom of the barrel that is the local, Catalan craft beer scene. Salut!
La Cervesera Artesana
Here, in Barcelona’s first brew pub, Steve Huxley was ahead of his time, producing potable masterpieces more than a quarter of a century ago. La Cervesera Artesana serves as the gateway to Gràcia and the obligatory first stop on any night out in this neighbourhood, where many of the locals still see themselves as independent from the city of Barcelona, let alone from the rest of Spain. Huxley sadly passed away in 2015, but not without leaving behind his tricks of the trade. His love-child, the “Iberian” range, is still brewed on the premises and incorporates mint, spices, orange, coconut, chilli, asparagus and even mushrooms!
Sant Agustí, 14, Gràcia, Barcelona
CocoVail Beer Hall
There’s nowhere quite like “The Vail”, hidden just off Passeig de Gràcia, round the corner from Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, which are two of the most impressive Gaudi buildings in Barcelona, after the Sagrada Familia. Barcelona born and raised friends Andrés and Toni found this old, 18th century textile factory and opted for massive, communal tables where you’re literally “forced” to pull up a pew alongside complete strangers, play some board games, and chug down a few pints. Get chatting and what do you know! No-one’s a stranger anymore. Their 24 taps showcase Catalan craft beers from the likes of Edge, Garage, Montseny, the Catalan Brewery, Espiga, Barna Brew and more.
Carrer d’Aragó, 284, Barcelona
Brew Pub Le Sec
PJ Barley is a fantastic little number at music-centric Brew Pub Le Sec, and if that’s not your genre, sample the likes of Portershead, IPAtti Smith, Queens of the Stout Age, Pale Jam, Stoutus Quo, Nine Inch Ales, Sed Vicious, Alevis Presley, Ale Is In Chains or Where Is My Pint? On top of these in-house creations, expect hits from Guineu and other classic breweries. Brew Pub Le Sec is located directly opposite the Cervecería Jazz, the wellspring of Barcelona’s burgeoning artisanal beer scene back in the ‘90s and home to Steve’s brewing and cicerone (beer sommelier) courses.
Carrer de Margarit, 52, Poble Sec, Barcelona
La Bona Pinta
Literally Catalan for “the good pint”, La Bona Pinta is a hole-in-the-wall corner pub and bottle shop that nevertheless more than deserves its place on this list amidst the “big boys” of Barcelona beer. Don’t be scared off by the sign outside that threatens, ‘No coffee, no cocktails, “only” 200 craft beers!’ What it neglects to tell you is that these said 200 craft beers – from the likes of Fort, Espiga and SOMA – can be enjoyed with pa amb tomáquet, fuet, formatge and a range of other Catalan bar snacks.
Carrer de la Diputació, 433, Barcelona
Deep in the heart of “Beerxample”, an ever-expanding area of the Eixample district where one can practically choke to death on beer fumes (and what a way to go that would be!), lies a garage full of beer. The boys and girls at Garage Beer were among the first on the now crowded scene and paying them a visit should be top of the agenda for any craft beer bar crawl in the area. They have an unnatural propensity for IPAs, making Garage the sworn local of every friendly neighbourhood hophead.
Carrer del Consell de Cent, 261, Eixample, Barcelona
La Cerveseria Clandestina
There’s an easy way to tell locals from tourists in the Sagrada Familia neighbourhood. While the tourists complain over congealed patatas bravas, scour the Chinese bazaars for knock-off Barça shirts, and sometimes take Ed Sheeran’s advice a little too literally and “dance around la Sagrada Familia, drinking sangria” (you can tell he experienced Barcelona like a local, can’t you), the locals can be found just off the beaten track in La Cerveseria Clandestina, sampling unpretentious beers from Barcelona breweries like Cerveses Sant Llorenç, Quer and ART Cervesers. They’ll usually also have something by Lo Vilot or La Vella Caravana, from the neighbouring Catalan province of Lleida, or Tyris, the first craft beer brand of the Valencian community.
Carrer de Còrsega, 611, Barcelona
Like any good purveyor of cervesa artesanal (it’s “cerveza” in Spanish and “cervesa” in Catalan) Bar Centro’s eight taps, well-stocked bottle fridges and innovative burger menu are in a continuous state of change and you never quite know what you’re going to get. Expect to wash down incredible food with something by the likes of Garage, Edge, Quer, Espiga and La Pirata. Colourful and oft-controversial works by local artists hang between the bottles and crates and lend the finish to this raw, bare-bones burger and beer bar.
Carrer de Casp, 55, Barcelona
Of all the barris of Barcelona, few neighbourhoods are as “local” or as authentically Catalan as Sants. Located on the fringes of the city and with its very own style, this part of town is best enjoyed during a castellers meet, calçot season (from January to March), the Festa Major de Sants – one of the “big three” Barcelona street parties and held over a week in August – or any night of the week from the terrace of Homo Sibaris in the Plaça d’Osca. Wash down your tapas with a Sègol D’estiu – a peculiar wheat-rye cocktail of Homo Sibaris’ own making – or their iconic Sants Bohemian Pale Ale, while learning how to homebrew, or brushing up on your knowledge of beers of the world from one of the many beer-geek reads kicking around for your perusing pleasure.
Plaça d’Osca, 4, Sants, Barcelona