Catalan craft beer inspired by Belgian classics
For many of us with a passion for craft beer, Belgian brews are generally considered to be the holy grail. From lambics and tripels to saisons and wheat beers, Belgium’s Trappist monks have been perfecting their heavenly fermented fusions since the 12th century. And although Barcelona’s recent boom in artisan cervesa has been more akin to American-style brewing — a ‘more hops the better’ approach — as the scene matures it’s clear that it’s moving towards more balanced flavours (Edge Brewing, Ale&Hop, Coco Vail Beer Hall, Blacklab).
And that, my friend, leads me to Barna-Brew, a glitzy new brewpub located on the ever trendy Carrer Parliament in Sant Antoni.
The brainchild of Alex Lazarowicz, it is self-described as a “Brussels-Barcelona love affair”. And that it is, in more ways than one. Many moons ago, Alex moved from London to Brussels to embark on a successful career in politics. But something more important happened. First, he fell in love with Belgian beers and then he met a girl from Barcelona. Later, the couple decided to move to Barcelona, where Alex would brew his own range of beers inspired by his love of the two cultures.
His first move was to distribute his beers around Barcelona’s many craft beers bars. And along the way the beers picked up a slew of awards, encouraging him to take a leap of faith and acquire his own premises. And though it took much longer than expected (about a year or two by my reckoning), Barna-Brew brewpub is finally here.
Inside it’s warm and cosy, with well-considered lighting and a melange of vintage furniture. The dishevelled walls have been left largely untouched and act as a sort of tribute to the space’s previous incarnation as a storage space for a local restaurant. It feels very lived in and homely. In fact, if you popped in without knowing it was a brand-new premises, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’d been there for an age. It’s only when you look out back, at the industrial-scale brewery, that you realise just how serious this all is. With four giant fermenters, each capable of holding 1,000 litres, Alex has capicity here to brew for the world, or at least the rest of Europe. I have no doubt that he will.
On tap you’ll find three of Barna-Brew’s staple beers. The light and quaffable Pils Parliament is an ode to the street on which the bar resides and the perfect introduction to Barna-Brew’s unique brand of “Belgian craft, Catalan spirit”.
The “Moreneta" range includes the Moreneta Blanche (4.5%), a light and fruity wheat beer that Belgian beer lovers will feel familiar with. Alex and his brewer Andrea use bay leaves instead of coriander to give is a Catalan twist.
The Moreneta Rossa (6.5%) is full-bodied blonde ale with notes of honey and pine. If you’re more of an American IPA drinker, then this should be to your taste.
The Moreneta Brune (5.5%) is a dark and sultry ale that Alex came up with after discovering Catalan rom cremat, a ‘burnt rum’ drink. Pops of orange and cinnamon make it the perfect choice for colder days or for when you need a boost of flavour after a long day on lighter brews.
Two guest taps rotate a selection of quality beers from other local (and international) brewers, and I have no doubt Alex and Andrea will be playing around with their own seasonal brews from time to time.
Barna-Brew is also a great place to eat, with a range of “beermut” tapas options similar to what you’ll find in many of Barcelona’s trendy vermouth bars. Start with quality olives, mussels, cockles and clams, before moving onto the heartier dishes such as the mighty “Moreneta Burger”, which is 150 grams of top grade veal with pickles, sweet and sour red cabbage and a smoky Scamorza cheese.
If you love Belgian beers and would like to try a modern take on the classics, you’ll love Barna-Brew. Beautifully balanced and purposely brewed to be enjoyed in Barcelona’s blissful Mediterranean climate, this inviting brewpub is the best of both worlds, a true “Barcelona-Brussels love affair”. #barnabrew
By Ben Holbrook http://www.driftwoodjournals.com
Barna-Brew BrewpubCarrer del Parlament, 45, 08005 Barcelona, Spain
Area: Paralelo / Pueblo Seco
Website: Barna-Brew - Barcelona
Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 17.30 to 23.30 / Saturday 12.00 to 01.30 / Sunday 12.00 to 23.30 / Monday Closed #barnabrew
Phone: +34 674 41 56 18
Metro/Bus: Poble Sec