At various pubs throughout Catalonia, guests can sample beers made in microbreweries in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat. // © 2014 Thinkstock
Most of us don’t associate beer with Barcelona or any other region of Spain--it’s usually plump grapes on curly vines that come to mind. But beer festivals and new microbreweries are evidence that beer is catching on in Catalonia, if not throughout the country.
Beer festivals are held across Catalonia from spring through fall. Some are popular with locals and visitors, including two in Barcelona: the Barcelona Beer Festival held in April and La Fira del Poblenou de Cerveses Artesanes in July. Other beer festivals in the area include The Mostra de Cervesa Artesana held in Mediona in June and the Fira de la Cervesa Artesana held in August in Vilafranca del Penedes.
While microbrews are still not mainstream in Spain, mostly because they’re more expensive than mass-produced beer, many microbreweries have opened up in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, a suburb of southwest Barcelona. These watering holes offer a great local experience and some pretty good pub grub along with local and international beers.
Ale & Hop
This snug bar, located in the center of the city near Arc de Triomf, opened in August of 2011. Owners Alberto and Jazz offer an assortment of international and Catalan craft brews on tap, including Reservoir Hops, a tart IPA by Holzbrau from L'Hospitalet de Llobregat. Don’t expect hot wings or traditional pub fare. They serve up an all-vegetarian menu here, including tasty veggie burgers, hummus dip, and Catalan “cocas” (a sort of flatbread with toppings).
El Vaso de Oro
Tucked into a narrow lane by the city’s old port, El Vaso de Oro is a local favorite thanks to its wide array of tapas, especially the seafood selections. Though the bar has been serving up tall pints since 1962, owner Gabriel Font has only been brewing Fort beers since 2009. He now has a small brewery in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat. Try the chocolaty oatmeal porter or the Motueka pale ale, along with a plate “patatas bravas” (spicy potatoes) or an order of garlic shrimp.
At this welcoming tavern, located in the up-and-coming Poble Sec neighborhood, guests sit at a long wooden bar and listen to tunes by Duke Ellington. Savor a bit of Napabier Amber Ale from Navarra served on tap. For something from Catalonia, order a bottled Glops Negre lager, featuring hints of licorice, produced by Glops brewery in L'Hospitalet de Llobregat. Cerveceria Jazz has a limited menu featuring gourmet sandwiches and burgers.