Crafty Ales in Barcelona

Crafty Ales in Barcelona

Our top five for a beer in this Spanish city
Elliot Wilson

Spain used to be a country that hated beer. Or at least, hated variety when it came to the hop leap. Restaurants in the main would offer the patron a choice of either Estrella Damm or San Miguel, usually on tap, ice cold and tasteless, along with an endless list of local and regional wines. Why, I would wonder – is it the taste bud or the mind that is unenquiring here?

Well, thanks to the US-led craft beer revolution, all of that has changed. Many European cities have long and proud histories of beer-focused pubs, from London (of course) to Berlin, through Stockholm and Dublin. But Barcelona is a new addition to that fold, and how grateful the thirsty traveller is for that fact. For what is more fun, after all, than sharing a hot evening with good friends and a cold bar, while standing at ease on the cobbles of a city that rarely sleeps before the sun comes up?

The sheer range of bars springing up around the city is almost overwhelming, so let Stylebible guide you to and through five of the best:

  1. Ale & Hop. 10 bis 
    [Ale & Hop on Facebook]
    A stone’s throw from the Arc de Triomf, at Basses de Sant Pere, this place all brushed-steel décor and clinical style, is a cool hangout on a hot day. Ten varieties of tap ale, pilsener and porter revolve (I counted beers from Spain, the UK, Germany, the US and Sweden on my visit). Plus the fridges are packed with more old-style and craft beer than you can shake a stick at.
  2. CatBar, Bòria, 17.
    [CatBar on Facebook]
    A stone’s throw from Via Laietana, a major city thoroughfare, this place, like many of the city’s craft beer outposts, is a squeezy affair. Friendly staff from Peru and Bolivia dispense between eight and ten chilled tap beers from around the world, along with a fridge stocked with hops. ‘No Wine!’, the blackboard says. Quite right, too. 
  3. Kælderkold, Carrer del Cardenal Casañas, 7.
    [Kælderkold on Facebook]
    A few yards from the madness and pickpockets of Las Ramblas, this place is Sweden-meets-Barcelona, all Scandi-chill and bulging bottle fridges. A genuine hangout for beer afficianados and the more casual punter looking to avoid tap San Miguel. 
  4. La Cerveteca, Carrer d’En Gignàs, 25.
    [La Cerveteca on Facebook]
    Located in the heart of the Gothic Quarter, this offers some of Catalonia’s best craft beers (ask Rubén the owner for his favourite current tipples). But it also includes ‘best in class’ brews from across the world, and runs professionally-run courses and tasting sessions. 
  5. Biercab, Carrer Muntaner, 55.
    [Biercab on Facebook]
    Most new beerpubs in Barcelona are almost like pop-up outlets, seemingly thrown together almost overnight to meet demand. And that’s fine – that’s the way many of us like it. But the industry is developing, and nowhere more so is evident than in the guise of Biercab, an upscale, sit-down affair close to Plaça Universitat. Thirty taps in all, ten of which are devoted to Biercab’s own brew, Naparbier, the place offers some very nice nibbles – try the local ceviche.