I know. I’ve been living in Barcelona for ten months now and it’s taken me this long to share my favourite places to go for a good beer. In my defence though, you can’t just go around writing posts like “Top 5 Craft Beer Bars in Barcelona” until you’ve sampled all the other craft beer bars in Barcelona, can you?
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The Best Craft Beer Bars in Barcelona
For an epic craft beer bar crawl, the vast majority (BierCaB, BrewDog, Garage, Napar, bELchiCA, Rosses i Torrades, Zythos, L’Espumossa, Cerveseria Catalana, Maestró, Barcelona Beer Company, Mikkeller, etc.) are located in what’s now coming to be known as “Beerxample” (a play on the Eixample district, and more or less the exact same area as “Gaixample”, Barcelona’s gaybourhood).
But Barcelona’s craft beer scene is by no means limited to Beerxample. Here are my personal favourites:
CocoVail Beer Hall
When I first wrote this post, CocoVail didn’t exist, and I’m being 100% honest with myself when I say you could literally feel the aching need for a big, open beer hall in Barcelona. There’s the two Ovella Negras, of course, and I’m not saying I don’t love a bit of “the black sheep”, but what Ovella Negra lacks is good beer. CocoVail has 24 taps of it.
It wasn’t until chatting to Andrés the other day though that I realised the full meaning behind the massive tables and all the Chris McCandless memorabilia on the walls. They wanted a bar like the ones they found themselves in in America, the kind of bar where you had to pull up a pew alongside a group of complete strangers, and a few pints later…no-one’s a stranger. Looking around, I think they got it.
“Happiness is only real when shared.”
— Christopher McCandless. Into the Wild
(I had to laugh over Christmas when it was obscured by decorations and read, “Happiness is only real when Santa”.)
When? Mon: 11:30 am–12:30 am; Tues: 11:30 am–2 am; Weds: 11:30 am–12:30 am; Thurs–Fri: 11:30 am–2 am; Sat: 1 pm–2 am; Sun: 1 pm–12:30 am
Where? Aragó, 284 (just off Passeig de Gràcia, right round the corner from Gaudí’s Casa Batlló)
La Bona Pinta
Local Catalan place, a little off the tourist trail (though conveniently for me, right on my walk home) and run by the spitting image of Withnail. I was coming here for months before I discovered there’s a whole back area, where you can even drink in a cage.
‘No coffee, no cocktails, “only” 200 craft beers!’
When? Tues–Thurs: 11:30 am–2:30 pm and 5:30–11 pm; Fri–Sat: 11:30 am–2 am; Sun: 5:30–11 pm
Where? Diputació, 433 (Eixample)
A bit bright for a vampire like me – especially on a hangover day (most days) – BierCaB is consistently ranked by RateBeer as one of the best beer bars in Spain (and currently in the world). The big screens behind the bar, far from showing sports, actually display the specs of the beers on draught, helping you to pick between 30 unmarked taps. Choose your brews by beer style, place of origin, etc. At the time of writing, many of the beers on offer hailed from Scandinavia, Britain and the various regions of Spain, with an obvious focus on local Catalan breweries.
When? Mon–Wed: 4 pm–12 am; Thurs: 12 pm–12 am; Fri–Sat: 12 pm–2 am; Sunday: 5 pm–12 am
Where? Calle Muntaner, 55 (Beerxample)
This might sound like a strange thing for a beer-lover to say, but Lambicus is one of the few craft beer bars in the world that’s almost as cool when it’s closed as it is when it’s open. It might take you – as it did me – a few glances to notice, but even the shutter’s been dolled up as a nice, foaming pint of cerveza.
When it’s open though, this place boasts the finest selection of Belgian beer in Barcelona, plus regular beer-related events.
When? Tues–Fri: 5–11 pm; Sat: 11 am–11 pm
Where? Tamarit, 107 (Sant Antoni)
Ale&Hop sits on the fringes of the Ciutat Vella (Barcelona’s old town) in a little plaza in my favourite neck of town – El Born.
It’s no secret that the Spanish like to party (and do most things) late, and Ale&Hop’s no exception: show up anytime from ten ’til three in the morning and you’ll find yourself getting intimate with happy, hopped-up people, sampling craft beer from Cataluña to Canada and washing down some good grub while you’re at it. (They won RateBeer’s “Best Restaurant for Beer in Spain” three years running.)
When? Sun: 1 pm–1:30 am; Mon–Wed: 5 pm–1:30 am; Thurs: 5 pm–2:30 am; Fri: 5 pm–3 am; Sat: 1 pm–3 am
I seem to have found myself in a lot of BrewDog bars over the past few months – Stockholm, Brighton, London… – but BrewDog Barcelona has to be my favourite, for the simple reason that it’s the cheapest. If you like your Spanish spoken with a Scottish accent and your English peppered with Catalan turns of phrase, this is the place for you.
It’s also the only place I’ve ever known where you can get a shot of the illusive “Sink the Bismarck!” – a rare 41%, ice-distilled IPA. It’ll set you back eight euro, but where else can you drink a beer as strong as a good Scotch and knock back a piece of craft beer history? Also stashed away behind the bar somewhere is “Tactical Nuclear Penguin” – a 32% porter.
When? Mon–Wed: 5PM–midnight; Thurs–Fri: 5PM–2AM; Sat: noon–2AM; Sun: noon–midnight
My Fave Five Local Catalan Craft Breweries
The Catalan craft beer scene is certainly not shy of talent, but I wanted to highlight a few breweries that have won my heart/really stood out to me during my time here in Barcelona. Some of them don’t get as much attention as they deserve and I wish I’d known about them the second I stepped off the plane at El Prat.
This little-known eco-brewery in Poblenou has conceived and given life to several beautiful daughters. There’s sweet Marion, an old soul who never gets gas; Júlia, the Scottish lass – a rare thing in these parts – and perfect brunch date; and young Alba, who I haven’t had my wicked way with yet, but it’s only a matter of time before I get my hands on her. They can often be found hanging out in the Alsur Cafés of Born.
Garage Beer Co. Barcelona
Not to be confused with all the other garage projects and garage brewing companies around the world. While they specialise in IPAs, their Contraband porter is the best I’ve ever had (okay, second best to Australia’s Holgate Temptress) and their BEAST is…well, an absolute beast! It’s a Berliner-weisse brewed with cava yeast and infused with merlot wine. I’ve heard somewhere out there there’s also a saison and an imperial stout in their “merlot series”, so if anyone lays their hands on some, give me a call. I’ll bring the cheese.
When? Sun–Thurs: 5 pm–midnight; Fri–Sat: 5 pm–3 am
Where? Consell de Cent, 261 (Beerxample)
Based in nearby L’Hospitalet (de Llobregat) – which locals assure me is not Barcelona, but an entirely different city – Fort earned themselves a place in my heart with the (Monkey) house brew at my regular burger joint (Bar Centro). I wasn’t expecting much from a lager, but this one blew me away. They also brew a California common (Catalunya common?) – not a beer style you see every day – plus the likes of a 9% bourbon whiskey milk stout, a papaya gose and a smoky BBQ Bavarian Oktoberfestbier.
Edge Brewing Barcelona
Also based in the barri of Poblenou, Edge caught my attention at the Fira de Cerveses del Poblenou (Poblenou Beer Festival) with their Sangría Sour. I took a risk, and it paid off, and I haven’t been able to prise their colourful bottles from my lips ever since. Look out for their saisons, the “brutal” Appassionada passion-fruit Berliner-weisse and their Pure Decadence imperial stout – a collaboration with Norway’s Lervig.
Another eco-friendly brewery, these guys in Sant Cugat (del Vallès) only make three beers, but L’Estupenda de Vi Blanc alone deserves a place on this list. It really is stupendous, tastes like a good old, oaked chardy, and was last spotted in ChichaLimoná on Passeig de Sant Joan.
Other Notable Craft Brewers in Barcelona:
- NaparBCN (Napabier’s Catalan cousin)
- The Brew Bro Corp (the bros behind Howling Cats and the Rabirra house beer at Rabipelao)
- Barcelona Beer Company
- Homo Sibaris, Sants
- Steve Huxley (the founding father of Barcelona’s craft beer scene)
- Ratpenat Cervesers
- Music Hall Company
- Birra 08
- Flaherty’s Irish Pub
Basically, when it comes to cerveza artesanal (or cervesa artesanal as it’s known here in Catalonia – spot the difference) there are very few cities with a better offering than BCN.
More Top Craft Breweries in Catalonia:
- La Calavera, Ripoll
- Guineu, Valls de Torroella
- Montseny, Sant Miquel de Balenyà
- Catalan Brewery, Mollet del Vallés (also responsible for the house beers at Chivuo’s)
- Espiga, Sant Llorenç d’Hortons
- Balate, Vilassar de Mar
- La Pirata, Súria
- Lo Vilot, Almacelles
- Marina, Blanes
- Art Cervesers, Canovelles
- Cerveseria i Malteria Fondi, Fonteta
- Roses de Llobregat, Sant Feliu de Llobregat
- Quer, Berga
The Best Barcelona Craft Beer Shops
Beer shopping: the only kind of shopping that actually turns me on! La Bona Pinta and Lambicus (see above) both double as bottle shops with discounted take-away rates and more than 200 and 500 beers respectively. I also pick up my “supplies” in:
Like all of the beer shops listed, you can stop and sample a brew or two at one of the barrels-cum-tables. The BeerStore is also only a manzana (block) or two from the Sagrada Familia, so you can even see the sights on the fly while pulling a beer-run.
When? Mon: 4:45–8:30 pm; Tues–Sat: 10:30 am–1:45 pm and 4:45–8:30 pm
Where? Provença, 495 (Sagrada Familia)
As Barcelona’s only Untappd “verified venue”, you can check what’s on tap and get availability and prices in real-time, to save you heading out on a wild booze chase. Growlers (refillable, take-away beer bottles) are also available.
When? Mon–Wed: 5–11 pm; Thurs–Sun: 11 am–2 pm and 5–11 pm
Where? Còrsega, 379 (Gràcia)
Also check out Zythos (Rosselló, 185) and Rosses i Torrades (Consell de Cent, 192). While they’re not my local craft beer shop, maybe they’ll be yours.