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Spring is here and powdery-pink blossoms hang heavy from trees in Barcelona’s parks. Although it won’t be swimming weather (by local standards anyway) until May, March and April bring sunnier skies, warmer nights, shorter sleeves and, most importantly, beer. Yes, beer. The Barcelona Beer Festival, now in its third year, will be held for three whole days this April 11-13th, 2014.
Craft beer movement in Barcelona
Beer and ale are a big deal in Barcelona, and all over Spain, these days. Microbrews are trendy, innovative and in-demand. Most people don’t think ‘beer’ when they think ‘Spain’, and the craft beer scene is still small compared to Belgium, Germany or sudsy cities such as Portland or Denver in the US. Nonetheless, brewers are busy in Catalonia creating some great beers, so keep an eye out for Almogaver, Les Clandestines and Llupols i Llevats.
Barcelona Beer Festival
Many of these tasty craft beers will be available at the Barcelona Beer Festival taking place April 11-13. The event showcases several up-and-coming Spanish brands but also a few international labels. The festival works like most foodie fests: you buy a half-pint glass for tasting, a wad of tickets and off you go to sip and tip as many beers as you can muster. The same tickets also work for food. This year the festival will be held right at the end of La Rambla in the Maritime Museum, a more ideal venue than last year’s which was in the conference center of a mall. It’s open to the public and popular with locals—expect a long line to get in at night!
Where to Stay
Hostal Benidorm (with doubles from: $83 to $104) is within walking (or maybe stumbling) distance from the brewski bash as well as several great nightlife and dining spots. It’s hard to beat this central location. The interior offers a funky, modernist style, and each accommodation comes with a private bathroom, flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi. A few select rooms even sport balconies that offer views of the bustling scene along Las Ramblas.
Where to find local brews
If you’re not able to make it to the Barcelona Beer Festival, but still want to try some locally-made ales, pop into Ale&Hop, a pub in La Ribera ‘hood that is a self-proclaimed beer geek hangout with 10 taps and vegetarian snacks. Cervecería Jazz in Poble Sec is another option with a robust list that pairs with burgers hot off the grill. Or how about a beer library? That’s what you will discover at La Cerveteca that stocks a wonderful selection of Catalan bottles. It’s the perfect spot to browse and taste to see what suits your fancy. You’ll also find bottled craft beer in many wine shops (bizarre as that sounds), a few in supermarkets and at any decent restaurant (okay, maybe not…but eateries are starting to carry microbrews, so keep a sharp eye out for them). Salud!