While the craft beer revolution continues its march across the globe in an effort to provide beer drinkers with choices and flavours that would have seemed impossible not so long ago, we must not forget the movement’s origins in the United States. If it was not for Sierra Nevada and their signature Pale Ale, we probably would never have seen breweries like Stone pop up. And if it wasn’t for the likes of Stone, there be no Brewdog and so on and so on.
“We are in full revolution and it is exciting.”
The impact of American craft beer on the industry as a whole can never be understated but there are a number of smaller-scale stories of how U.S. beer continues to inspire people around the world to please palates and change perceptions. If it wasn’t for one particular American beer – Pliny the Elder, you may have heard of it – there would be no Barcelona Beer Company in your Flavourly boxes this month.
“Everything began with a trip of mine to the United States with my wife,” reflects Oriol Renart, one of Barcelona Beer Company’s founding fathers. “While walking through New York, she went to buy some underwear and, while I was waiting, I saw a craft beer and I went inside. I did not know what to ask for and the bartender suggested a Russian River. That beer changed my life.
“Upon returning to Barcelona, I convinced my friends Carlos and David – who was a homebrewer – to set the brewery.”
That was five years ago and now Barcelona Beer Company are leading the charge in an undeniable craft beer revolution in they city. Oriol tells us: “Yes, we are in full revolution and it is exciting.
“In just five years, we have gone from almost not being able to find a craft to have many projects, both breweries and taprooms. We love being part of this.”
Though the effects of craft beer are certainly taking hold in the heart of Catalonia, Oriol stresses the importance of carefully selecting which beer styles to brew when introducing a new audience to the joys of craft. It goes without saying that jumping from a mild, macro lager to a super-hoppy, double IPA would be a jarring experience and perhaps not the best introduction to craft beer.
“We do love extreme beers,” Oriol explains. “But they are not the ones we make. In Spain, we are still at the start of the craft beer revolution so it important to educate the consumer.”
With this in mind, Barcelona Beer Company have put together an incredible range of ales and lagers that are as approachable as they are flavoursome. Their signature Barcelona Beer is a super clean and refreshing pale ale, hopped with the balance citrus profile of both German and American hops. Cerdos Voladores is a classic American-style IPA with a big bitter bite that’s the perfect graduation to more powerful flavours. An English pale ale, a Mediterranean blonde and a classic, strong brown ale round out their core range.
“In Spain, we are still at the start of the craft beer revolution so it important to educate the consumer.”
Beyond these, however, the team at Barcelona Beer Company have been flexing their more obscure muscles with seasonal and small batch releases that offer up some truly exceptional, exciting flavour profiles. One of their latest innovations is Nicotto, a beer inspired by the flavours of Japan.
“It is a very special pale ale,” says Oriol. “Brewed with Sorachi, jasmine green tea, mandarin peel and yuzu, it’s really different. The highlight of this beer for me, though, is its name. Nicotto sounds very Japanese but, in reality, it is not. I have two children, Nico and Otto. That’s where the name comes from.”
Whether they are brewing a more traditional beer or getting experimental, Barcelona Beer Company’s priority is quality and it is something they are completely unwilling to cut corners on. Take the water they use, for example. Not content with the water in the centre of Barcelona, they had the incredibly pure spring water of the Font del Regàs from Montseny Natural Park brought to them in trucks at their original brewery. They’ve since relocated to be closer to the source; that’s the kind of importance that Barcelona Beer Company places on absolute quality, in every ingredient and at every stage of the process.
Though the craft beer revolution in Barcelona may still be in its infancy, it is absolutely in safe hands. Oriol and the team are producing craft beers that everyone, from craft beer newbie to hop aficionado, can enjoy.
When asked about the future of Barcelona Beer Company, Oriol teased: “We are working on very exciting projects but it too early to talk about them.
“Leave me a week and maybe I’ll tell you,” he laughs.