beer reviews Spain

Revolution in Catalonia

Ok, so there really is a Catalan beer revolution, as evidenced by the existence of B12, a specialist beer bar in Girona, with veggie and vegan food. (Obviously, if everyone else in Spain is drinking crappy lager and eating pork, the contrarian is going to drink craft beer and eat tofu, right?).

There are more than 30 bottled beers from various Catalan microbreweries on offer. As one of the owners told us, there seems to be a new one opening every month.

We were only able to try a few. First up was Lupulus from Montseny, the people who told us about this place.  We’ve read a few reviews of this and people have noted the hops. Well, it’s definitely got more hops than we’re used to in beers from this part of the world, and a nice fruity flavour too, but wasn’t really the hop bomb we were looking forward to, and was a bit off-smelling (green glass?).

Next was Rossa (blonde) from Keks, which tasted like a decent, perhaps slightly sweet, tangerine-like Belgian wheat beer. This was definitely brewed for the climate — we’ve often thought wheat beer is the best way to lure the Spanish into drinking better beer, as it’s cold and refreshing, but generally more complex than, say, San Miguel.

Sticking with beers that suit the climate, we also thought Atletica lager was a hit. This is a pilsen which appears to have been brewed by, or at least for, a football social club. It had a pleasant, slightly floral aroma and was clean without being bland. We could drink a lot if this.

Flama Ale  smelled great — like Goose Island IPA — and almost delivered, with savoury malts and aromatic hops, but was still a little too much like a careless home brew to really make the grade.

Montserrat by Guineu, was absolutely top notch, though, and the standout beer of the night. Billed as an imperial stout, it delivered in body and soul, and singlehandedly reaffirmed our belief in the Catalan brewing revolution.

Full credit to the owners for opening this place and giving these beers a stage. There were loads more beers that we couldn’t try. This place is definitely worth the trip if you’re in Girona, and probably worth factoring into an itinerary if you’re a beer geek passing through Catalonia.

6 replies on “Revolution in Catalonia”

Wow – what a great-looking haul. Always good to see beers I’d genuinely never heard of. And – shallow, I know – how cool is that label with the Octopus? Awesome!

Es cierto que En Catalunya se esta registrando una gran actividad cervecera independiente, elaborando algunos de ellos unas muy buenas cervezas pero de ahí a que se pueda hablar de Revolution o de movimiento hay un gran trecho. Todavía queda mucho camino por recorrer, la bola de nieve que supone internet ha sido una plataforma muy buena para expandir su fama-algunos siguen siendo cerveceros caseros que sacan su cerveza al mercado, elaborando de alquiler en la misma fabrica y con la misma maquinaria -.
Todavía hay que trabajar mucho para que la calidad mejore sensiblemente, se esta hablando desde ciertos sectores de ese autodenominado movimiento cervecero de innovación, de cultura e identidad propia, de estilos nuevos de cerveza, sin ni siquiera tener cerveza de calidad. Hay una excesiva tendencia a copiar e imitar a los americanos en las formas y sin embargo luego, el fondo, esto es, la cerveza, no cumple las expectativas. La poderosa maquina que es internet repito, hace el resto. A mi modo de ver Son esas formas de querer vender un panorama cervecero propio lo que estropea el trabajo serio de otros cerveceros que apuestan por la calidad y la normalidad a la hora de hacer y vender cerveza y que si suponen un reto y un desafío para la aburrida imagen que da la cerveza industrial en la Península Ibérica. Haya Salud

It is true that we can find a great independent brewing activity in Catalonia but it is far from being considered a Revolution or even a Movement. Some brewers are carrying out a wonderful touch in their beers but there are a lot of work to do. This is only the begining. The Internet has being a powerful tool to advertise and expand the idea of that selfdefined Craft Movement ( there are examples of homebrewers, selling their products or examples of people brewing their recipes in the same brewery under license, two facts that has little to do with a Craft beer movement in my opinion).

In fact, Theres a much a do about nothing on that matter.
We have talked with some sectors of this so called movement and they’ve tried to sell us concepts such as innovation, personality, nationality, new beer styles, and so on, forgetting something really important, beer itself. There’s a tendecy, in certain cases, to copy and imitate manners from the American brewing scene but only in marketing and attitude, not in beer’s quality and that’s the main mistake of all. In my opinion, fisrt we have to brew good beer, and then apply some marketing, but in this era The internet allows you to do the other way round, and that’s the problem. From my point of view that kind of manners, these approachings to beer are just snobberism and fashion . I hope they are not going to last but, in a sense they dime a bit the name and the efforts of the small bunch of people that are working and brewing from an honest way of doing, people that knows what to do and are far from fashions and above snob scenes. Haya Salud

Guineu has a fantastic Pale Lager – Riner – at only 2.3%abv. Also tried their Sitges which I found quite OK for a style (Zwickl/Kellerbier) I don’t really appreciate (though I’ve never tried it near the source).
Other than Guineu, I haven’t found any other consistently good Catalonian micro, though I’ve had a good (and another only acceptable) Montseny Lupulus.

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