Spain seems to be the place where you can find craft beers much more easily than London or Munich. Though every restaurant has beer (usually mass produced lager) and most serve sangria there are a decent number of bars to be found where you can taste a local ipa or other beers. In the area where I stayed alone there were at least four different options for enjoying craft beer from either Barcelona itself or Spain more generally. Local ipas were solid and hit that spot that had been only satisfied a few times in London and Reykjavik.
Before visiting I had only found one brewery, called Edge Brewing. It is run by a couple of Americans and I heard great things about it before visiting. They are only open on Saturday morning by appointment through the website site to visit directly but their beers tend to show up around town with regularity as well. I arrived at the brewery on Friday night based on old information, they used to be open only Friday evening, and was greeted by one of the brewers who was surprised I was there but graciously offered me information about other bars nearby and a few brew pubs. He also provided me two bottles for review. One of those suggestions was Black Lab, which was the only stop I was able to visit, because I wanted to be able to taste the bottles I got from Edge before flying back.
Prior to my visit to Edge Brewing and ultimately Black Lab brewpub I visited a couple of local bars in the Gothic Quarter. One was called La Cerveteca, located at Carrer d’En Gignàs, 25, 08002 Barcelona. They had five taps or so and serve a variety of Tapas. When I visited they didn’t have a ton of local beers on tap so I just had one IPA (Napar Insider IPA) before moving on. It was a tasty citrusy IPA and really hit the spot. I had some nice conversations with some other Americans in the bar as well.
Later that evening I visited another bar called Cat Bar, located at Carrer Boria, 1708003 Barcelona. Cat Bar also serves Vegan Burgers, though I didn’t try any of them. They had more local options available so I got to try some local IPA and Imperial Stout. I would recommend Cat Bar as the first choice of the two bars I visited due to a larger tap list. It appears they also have live music sometimes. I didn’t take notes so I can’t recall exactly what I ordered that evening.
I made my way to Black Lab brewpub and was welcomed by an English speaking owner/brewer who explained the multiple beers and food items. I ordered half pints of three of the offerings and had a banh mi sandwich along with them. Both the pale ale and ipa were very tasty with citrus/pineapple flavors and light malt bills. Their raspberry beer was also fantastic, with a light amount of tartness and a solid fruit flavor. If I had visited black lab sooner I might have taken a growler of the frambuesa to the beach. I was surprised that they both fill growlers and offer beer to go.
The banh mi sandwich was fabulous, served with house cut fries. It had both nice juicy chunks of pork and a creamy pate. The bun was one of the softest I’ve had a sandwich on before and it had a nice kick with a house spicy aoli and some jalapeños. The fries came with a dipping sauce similar to Mexican salsa. I then returned to my room where I had the two bottles from edge brewing, a pale ale and a double ipa. The pale was nice and balanced with a light amber color and some floral hops that weren’t overpowering. It ended with a nice mild bitterness.
The double ipa was aptly named juggernaut. It was a seriously dark amber and resembled an American barley wine more than a double ipa. In many ways it was similar to stone brewing Double Bastard. The beer had a strong hop bitterness and a powerful roasted malt background. It was surprisingly not boozy despite the strong alcohol content and not too sweet. It is definitely worth seeking out if you like what San Diego beer people would call a malt bomb.
Because I had an early morning flight the next morning I didn’t visit other suggestions from the list but I will list them below. The craft beer scene is still in the early stages but many described it as exploding. So if you visit long after this post ask for some suggestions at black lab. They should be able to point you to some places that have opened since this was posted. If you happen to be in a place where the beers aren’t very good you can almost always find some good sangria for fairly cheap. Drinking is a way of life in Spain and Barcelona especially so you often see people drinking in the mornings or during lunch time.
Some suggestions from Edge that I didn’t get to visit:
El Vaso de Oro (A Spanish style restaurant serving their house brewed beers).
Brew Pub Le Sec (a beer bar and brewery with live jazz)
La Bona Pinta
La Cervecita (beer bar with a solid number of taps).