Madrid is home to some of the best art galleries in the world and some of the best bars too. Best in terms of atmosphere anyway, but the beer is rarely anything to write home about.
Ron Pattinson has put together a guide to bars in Madrid, which includes two brew pubs. As they are handily within a minute´s walk from each other, I tried them both together.
Naturbier is on the busy Plaza Santa Ana, which boasts many other fine cervecerías. It has two offerings – rubia (blonde) and tostada (brown, literally “toasted”). I slightly preferred the Tostada, with its heavier malty flavour, but both are excellent – extremely fresh-tasting and refreshing, balanced malt and hop flavours, and none of the unpleasant “homebrew” flavours you sometimes get from brewpubs. Pubs in Franconia would not be ashamed to serve these. Oh, and apparently it´s organic too.
Naturbier also has a great atmosphere – friendly staff and a good mixture of locals and tourists. So you can take your non-beer geek friends too, to experience the madrileño bar culture. It also serves tapas, which is rather pricy (although normal for that area) so I didn´t try any – but they do tend to bung you a plate of olives or nuts.
Magister is just off Plaza Santa Ana, on Calle de Principe. I think it´s supposed to be decorated like a German beer hall, but it just didn´t feel like one. They make a point about giving you free tapas, usually a staleish bit of bread with some meat on it.
They offer a rubia and tostada too, which aren´t as good as the Naturbier offerings – slightly acrid flavour, and didn´t taste as fresh. However, they also offer a “caramalizada” which is a sort of stout, and which I liked. It wasn´t the most amazing stout flavouring I´ve ever experienced, but the body and mouthfeel were bang on, which was a pleasant change from the last three months of lager texture. If that makes sense. Finally, they were also offering a “double bock” at 8.2%. This one was interesting. Like a not very good home brewer’s attempt at a strong Belgian-style ale, with a slightly odd fruity taste. It might even have been off.…
Overall I prefered Naturbier for the atmosphere, but Magister is also worth your support if you´re in the area.
1. Closest metro stations to Plaza Santa Ana are Anton Martin and Sol. It’s also about 15–20 minutes walk away from Atocha station, so handy for getting a drink if you´re just passing through. There is left luggage at Atocha station, but it can be a pain to find – it´s at the far end of the tropical garden, away from the platforms, under Sambar Kanda restaurant.