Spanish Beers in Barcelona
I thought I’d start off the beer adventures from Barcelona with a conglomeration of several mass produced beers that you will be able to find in almost every bar/restaurant/supermarket/etc. It’s probably best to get it out of the way so we can move on to bigger and better things. But before I get to these beers, I guess I should explain something. Barcelona in summer is hot. It’s about 33 degrees or so, with the sun blaring down on you, no trees to hide under to protect you from the rays, and a mass of concrete that traps the heat and almost creates a cloud of warmth in which the masses of people walk through. This unescapable heat means several things. You get an absolutely wicked tan, you get really thirsty all the time, and you beome a part pf the flock of tourists that have come to enjoy this heat. There is almost no escaping them.
As most of us know, the majority of people are happy with Corona, Heineken, Carlsberg, San Miguel etc etc - the mass produced lagers (I’d love to say crap, but i guess theres always a situation that calls for a pint of this stuff, so I’d be a hypocrite to say it’s absolute rubbish). Therefore the bars and restaurants accommodate for this by supplying these beers to these masses. The hotter it is, the more you feel like drinking, so it’s really a positive feedback loop ending in a reinforcement of a crappy beer supply. No matter where you go, there is almost no escaping this blandness.
But hidden in a large web of tasteless beers we have a few gems that, if you look hard enough, can be set free from the spider of tourists and people who are content drinking these beers. These are the beers that spark the tastebuds into life, the beers that have been slaved over to get just the right balance of bitter and smooth, an injection of hops, a real piece of art.
However, this is not a story of the gems. This is a story of the Spanish beers that are happy to be stuck in the web. The beers to accommodate for the masses.
And so we start with A.K. Damm, pronounced akka dumb. You may have heard of Estrella Damm, which is by far the most prominent of Spanish beers available in the bars and restaurants. Well this is similar, and I didn’t have the energy to write or take a photo of Estrella, so this will do. Just imagine a different bottle with a red label, a gold star, and ‘Estrella Damme’ written on it, and it will pretty much do the job.
The bottle itself is actually quite nice. It sort of lulls you in to a false sense of security, promising you something yet not quite providing it. However, it was a nice setting to be drinking the beer in, so I’ll give it that point. Sitting on the top of a hotel by the pool, in the sun, overlooking the city, it certainly did quench the thirst, but that was about it really. Being a clear light brown with a small white head, the first sign of averageness pops its head out in the plain malty aroma. Then you get to the taste. It’s quite bland, but refreshing on a hot afternoon, as I’ve already mentioned. The semi sweetened malts dominate, giving a smooth start and finish to the flavour. Theres not much to it really, much like most lagers.
Now we get to another average beer, but the setting is quite different. Throughout our holiday, we’ve tried to find good brunch places. It hasnt been too hard either, with a bit of a refined google search, you’ll be able to find some awesome places. And this late morning was no different. In the heart of the Gotica region of Barcelona we arrive at Milk. It’s cosy, air conditioned and packed. While the food was tasty, having a flavoursome brekkie burger, the beer selection was quite poor. Pilsner urquell and Estrella Galicia.
Again this is nothing to write home about, but its refreshing nonetheless. It’s got a bigger malt body than the Damm and is really smooth. I guess if you’re desperate in Spain it’s worth a go. It’s tastier than the Damm, but that’s about all I have to say about the Galicia.
Voll-damm Doble Malta
On to the last Spanish lager style beer. Now the tables have turned. I’m sitting at a semi dingy lunch bar owned by a Chinese middle aged woman who wants nothing more than to watch her news programmes instead of making food. After I’ve pried her away from the screen, I manage to get a basic tuna sandwich and the Voll-Damm.
It’s got a clear golden brown hue with a thin white head. The aroma leaves a lot to be desired, but that’s ok this time, because the flavour is actually pretty good. It’s 7.2%, giving it a nice alcoholy push, and a malt sweetness that lingers to the end, making it a really smooth and pleasant beer to drink. So if you’re ever presented with a situation where you have to decide between the bland array of Spanish lagers, go for this one. It’s not half bad, and absolutely smears all the other competitors into the filthy Spanish ground.
Ok now that’s over, we can get to the good stuff! And by good stuff, I mean goooooddddddd stuff. Just you wait!