Music Festival Wizard is expanding our event coverage into the wild world of beer festivals! For our first report, we head abroad to check out Barcelona’s largest craft beer gathering.
December delivered an artisan beer bonanza to the Catalonia capital during the Barcelona Beer Festival and we dropped in to sample a few tasty brews over the three day celebration. With over 500 different beers on tap and 250+ brewers, this is one of the largest and most significant beer fests in southern Europe. BBF was canceled in 2020 due to the COVID pandemic, and postponed again this year from their typical dates in April until December. Safety measures for 2021 included requiring that all attendees provide a COVID-19 passport and staff wore masks at all times.
What to Expect
The venue, La Farga, is a massive warehouse style events center so no issues with overcrowding or claustrophobia. There was also ample space for social distancing. With hundreds of beers on tap, the selection process can be overwhelming. Then I downloaded the event app which turned out to be the ideal way to sort yourself out. You can filter by country, beer style, and price. It’s also handy for remembering which beer you have sampled. Let’s just say the IPA wasn’t the only thing that was hazy on Saturday and leave it at that.
This beer festival was a bit different from ones I’ve attended in that very few brewers are on hand at the pours. The kegs are all handled by event staff so the typical conversations and back-and-forth with the brewers wasn’t as plentiful as other beer fests.
Entry in the festival cost €8 and included a tasting glass. Like most beer festivals, there’s a token system and I was able to purchase 10 tokens for €10 ($11.35). Most samples cost 3 tokens so about roughly €3.33 ($3.78) per pour. For the more budget minded, there were plenty of 2-token options and easy enough to track down.
What Did You Drink?
I was delighted to see New England (Hazy Jane from Brewdog) and Vermont IPAs (Green Mountain from Thornbridge) represented across the beer festival. It’s nice to see our small region having an impact on the world of beer. My standout favorites from the three days were Kraken, a Baltic porter from Cervezas Althaia and Superhell, a hoppy lager brewed at Zeta Beer. Keeping in line with the holiday season, I also sampled a really nice Christmas wheat appropriately called White Xmas from Sullerica Cervezas.
All those tasty brews need some food to hold down a solid base and the gastronomic experience did not disappoint with a number of gourmet food trucks stationed inside the event. A number of music acts kept the party popping, especially Talco, because what I needed to wake me up on a Sunday morning was an Italian punk ska band. There were also quite a few special events like brewmaster interviews and special tastings. As many of these weren’t held in English, I kept myself focused on the main task of drinking every beer on site.
When you used to say “beer festival” in Europe, it almost always meant some knockoff version of Oktoberfest, but in the past five years the artisan beer industry has really expanded across the continent. The growth of the Barcelona Beer Festival shows just how far craft breweries have come in Spain.
What: The Barcelona Beer Festival
When: December 17-19, 2021 (postponed from April)
Where: La Farga de L’Hospitalet, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Address: Carrer de Barcelona, 2, 08901 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat
Website: Barcelona Beer Festival