Catalunya is famous for its wine, but over the last few years the region has also become well known for local microbrews which are perfect for smoltry summer nights. Jeremy Holland, our Barcelona beer expert, gives The Scoop a taste of smoked beer, beer that is fermented in it’s own bottle, and a beer called ‘Glop’. Our expert would not consider taking a sip of Estrella, Spain’s most popular beer, to his lips. In-between beers, Jeremy has written a book: From Barcelona: Stories Behind The City.
By Jeremy Holland
Rosita Cerveza Artesanal de Tarragona is a small brewery located just south of Barcelona in the heart of cava (Spanish champagne) country. As the legend goes, Jaume and Nuria Comte were shunned by their families and desolate until the arrival of a girl one Sant Jordi’s day (April 23rd) whose picture adorns the label. The two flavors pictured are the stout or negra and the amber colored d’ivori. Not shown is the honey colored lager, or rubia.
Using water sourced from Santes Creus Monastery, the fermentation process takes place in the bottle itself as opposed to a large tank. Once poured, each glass has a cloudy aspect, as if it were a malty potion that was about to bless your taste buds. A complex blend of aromas, there is a touch of fruitiness and a light acidity but none of the heaviness or excessive carbonation common with mass-market brews like Estrella.
Glops is produced in the Poble Sec District of Barcelona. The founder, Àlex Padró Ruiz, visited southern Germany as an eighteen year old boy and returned determined to drink better quality beer. In 2004, he opened Llúpos i Llevats S.L. and began selling it out of Cervecería Jazz (http://www.cerveceriajazz.com/) which had long had a reputation as the place to go in Barcelona for the best quality brews from around the world. Nowadays, Glops is available in a eight different flavors from a refreshing lager to a more substantial stout, with my favorite being the fumada, or smoked.
Even though there seems to be new microbreweries every year, including Sitges based Guineu, which offers low alcohol content, you can’t find them in just any old bar or restaurant, especially not around Plaça de Catalunya. If you’re near Poble Nou and the best beaches in the city, there is La Pubilla del Taulat (www.lapubilladeltaulat.com) that, for my money, also has the tastiest patatas bravas in Barcelona.
Meanwhile, a few blocks over on Carrer Llull is La Cervecita with special local brews on tap and beer tasting. Visit its Facebook page (La Cervecita nuestra de cada dia) for more information on upcoming events. Finally, if you’re in town for an extended stay and would like to learn to be a brewmaster, La Cerveteca (http://www.lacerveteca.com/) offers courses and a more information on the growing local artisan beer scene.
Just remember—no matter where you go or which beer you taste, when you toast, look the person across from you in the eye, otherwise according to local superstition, it’s seven years bad sex! And who wants that other than a Trappist monk?
Salut and enjoy the hops of Barcelona.
Jeremy Holland is the author of From Barcelona: Stories Behind the City, a short story collection inspired by the Catalan capital’s people, buildings and legends. After eight years in Spain, he now lives in the former Spanish colony known as the Netherlands with his wife, daughter and cat, Rembrandt. You can read more about his life in the low countries at http://www.hollandfromholland.com/ or his experiences living in Catalunya at http://www.frombarcelona.com/.