Car Bar in Barcelona

I finally found Cat Bar, it’s a small, quaint bar that serves strictly vego meals and has an impressive array of Spanish craft beers. The great thing about it is that there are so few places that serve craft beers in Barcelona, but even less that sell craft beer that’s actually brewed in Spain. So it’s a treat to find somewhere so cosy like this. While eating some bread and hummus, I’ve gone for what I think is the Fort Pale Ale… There’s no label on the tap besides displaying ‘Fort’, so I’m going to hedge my bets on the pale ale. Anyway, It’s the hoppiest beer they’ve got on tap, and it’s cold to combat the heightening heat of the outside world. And when there’s no aircon around, a cold pint sounds like the perfect plan.

Fort Pale Ale

The beer poured an orangey yellow with a thick white head that dissipated quite quickly. With the heat, the glass started to perspire almost as soon as it was put on the table. The aroma was a hoppy mix of pine and citrus fruits. To taste, the beer was unfortunately nothing too special. I’ll say that right away. But to have something other than Spanish lagers, it was a godsend. The flavour is fruity and crisp, being a really refreshing drink for summer days. There are wheaty notes to the Fort too.

So there we have it. A Barcelonian brewed Pale Ale? on a hot day that goes down like anything! Do I recommend it? Maybe not. But it sure beats the plain malt lagers that seem to taunt you everywhere you go.

Cervesa Del Montseny Lupulis

Now that the Fort is finished, I’m still craving some more hops that the Fort just couldn’t suffice. I was looking for something that sends my taste buds into oblivion. Something to make me go ‘holy fuck’. Therefore I’ve got myself a Cervesa Del Montseny Lupulis. Translating to ‘hops’ in Spanish, you’d expect great things from this bottle. Especially seeing as though nothing else in the fridge has any signs of being an IPA, you’d expect at least one. So here’s the Lupulus. This is more of a darker, browny orange than the Fort, being much cloudier and with a big fluffy head with more retention. The aromas for this are quite citric and sharp. I think it was served a bit warmer than normally recommended, what with the older fridge working overtime in the heat. Anyway, it’s got a warm and full flavour to it, with quite a pronounced malty body. There’s a hoppy bitterness there, but for a beer named ‘hops’, you’d expect something with a more defined fruitiness or floralliness from the hops. Instead, this is just a plain bitter hops with no specific flavouring to get those tastebuds excited. So in this case, it’s an OK drink, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

So the verdict of Cat Bar. Give the Fort a go, miss the Montsery, but make sure you give Cat Bar a visit. With all these Spanish craft beers available, you really won’t regret it. RS


I’ve had a few places written down to visit in Barcelona. Several of which involve beer. Three include Catbar Cat, which seemed to elusively disappear when we were staring at the building that Google maps was so certain about. Next was Belchica, a bar that is on holidays until the end of August and only opens its doors on Thursday Friday and Saturday from 10pm. Being 4pm, I wasn’t too keen on hanging round for 6 hours. Last is Templa Cervezaria, which was neither on Google maps or in existence - research post-searching for it on the streets tells me it’s now out of business.

Great.

So now we get to my fourth beer related location on my list. La Cervesera Artesana. A Barcelonian brewery hidden just off Diagonal with a connecting pub that’s quite hard to describe. Sporting an eclectic mix of beer and non beer related paraphernalia, The bar greets me with several taps, four of which provide access to the brewery’s own beers, and two fridges filled with goodies from around the world. Of these goodies, two in particular took my fancy. The Great Divide Titan and the Yeti. But there was so much to choose from, which didn’t help my indecisiveness.

Before I reveal my already revealed decision, I’ll talk through my thought process.

1)I’m at a Barcelonian brewery, being the first I’ve found that doesn’t serve the boring old lager style cervezas, so I should really be trying their house beers. It’s the right thing to do to show my support for Barcelona.

2) The pale ale isn’t available today, leaving me with the wheat beer - which I can’t handle wheat - the stout which tastes thin, carbonated and has an astringent off flavour, the honey which I seem to blow off for some reason (hindsight has already told me that I should have at least tried this one) and a blond which, again, hindsight has reminded me that it is truly a bitch.

3) Great Divide. Great Divide. Great Divide.

So obviously Great Divide had thrown all other options away, leaving me with a clear winner… 2 of their beers in a row. So there we have it, Great Divide it is!

Great Divide Titan IPA

First up the lighter (yet not so light) Titan IPA, my first ipa in over a week! This brute of a beer pours a golden brown from the bottle, supporting a thin white head. Floating around in the golden liquid are specks of clumped up sediment, something I haven’t actually seen in an IPA before. The Aroma is a conglomeration of sweetened malts, a citrusy fruity hop and grassy notes to give it a fresh kick.

The flavour brings with it again a platter of citrisy fruits and quite a thick malt body, which dissipates at the middle to leave a lingering perfect bitterness. The 7.1% is quite respectable at showing its head too, giving it one final push at the end. As the beer warms, both the alcohol and bitterness seem to drop off, allowing the caramel malts to dominate and become more pronounced, giving the beer a really complex structure.

I can see why people rave about the Titan. It’s one nice beer, and one I would only happily get again.

Bought for 4.95€.

Great Divide Yeti Imperial Stout

And now we move to the second champion at La Cervesera Artesana. The Yeti. Having liked the Titan so much, and taking into consideration that I haven’t had any stouts on the trip so far, I felt it was just the right thing to do to go for the Yeti. It also gave me te chance to have yet another Great Divide beer.

So out pours this it’s-so-dark-that-it’s-almost-black brown thick beer with a thin as thin can be tanned brown head. The aromas are all big and bold. There’s roasted malts, dark chocolate and coffee all at once. Oh how I’ve missed imperial stouts!

The Flavour has a leniency to the bitter side, but in no way does it take away any smoothness you’d expect from an imperial stout, its still got as much smooth as Miles Davis. It’s big and full, with roasted malts taking over the flavour, along with a rich dark cocoa bitterness to take it right to the end. To add to this cocoa, a big hop bitter presence is added to the mix from middle to the lingering end, again making this Great Divide beer a truly three dimensional creature.

Calling this the Yeti seems to be a bit of a misnomer, as the flavours and aromas are far from hidden or mythical, they’re right there, smack bang in your face and proud of it. So much so, this is one of the nicest imperial stouts I’ve had, so if you like yours big and bold, grab it!

RS


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.

A.K. Damm

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.

Estrella Galicia

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!

RS


An Update To My Pursuit Of Hoppiness

I have neglected my beer writing duties. As we currently stand, I’ve arrived in and left Berlin, where the Dunkels got me through, yet nothing super special to report. I’ve also finished up at Barcelona, where my stories will begin - but not just yet.

For now I’ll leave you with this message to let you know there’s more to come… A lot more to come. Stories of disappointment, amazement and tastiness. Other stories that will have you feeling sorry for my poorly situation (they’re really not too bad in the grand scheme of things), while the next will have your mouth watering, wishing you were there. And it’s all in my pursuit of hoppiness.

So stay posted!

RS


Introductions and Recommendations!

Hi all,

Thanks for checking out the blog. There’ll be a few updates over the next few days, so forgive me for anything that’s frustrating about the site for now.

A bit about me for those who don’t know. I’m RS from Perth, Western Australia. If you haven’t already noticed, I do love beer. Florally, fruity, malty, smoky, not so wheaty, etc etc. The purpose of this blog is for me write down my thoughts of new beers, bars, bottle shops, breweries while I’m off holidaying around Europe and New York.

While we have access some pretty decent beer in Perth, some of the really good stuff just doesn’t make it over. So to overcome this problem, the only logical thing I could think of  was to book a flight directly to the source!

So for now, while I’ve still got just over a month until I leave, I’m coming up with as many places to drink exceptional drinks, eat amazing food, and see awesome sights. Recommendations on places to try in Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, London, New York and Paris are more than welcome, so shoot me a message!


Otherwise, thanks for checking out the blog, and hopefully I’ll get some beers up ASAP.


Cheers

RS