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Barcelona 2019 Itinerary2019-10-02T21:27:18+00:00

DAY 1

Thursday June 6

Welcome to Catalunya! For those already checked in and ready to ramble, in the afternoon we’ll depart our hotel and walk just a few blocks to one of the world’s iconic pedestrian streets, Las Ramblas! We’ll hit all the important sights on this beautiful tree-lined promenade until it’s time for the first official beer stop of the tour, Edge Brewing. Here we’ll receive a private tour of the brewery, followed by fresh samples at its ever-popular tasting room.

Our appetites whetted for more beer (and maybe some dinner?), we’ll then head over to Barcelona’s pioneering craft bar, BierCab, to take full advantage of one of the world’s best draft lineups, as well as some world-class tapas. For those wanting to further enjoy the legendary Barcelona nightlife, many of the city’s best beer bars are within a few blocks.

  Dinner included

EDGE BREWING


Edge Brewing was established in 2013 by American expats eager to bring the tastes and culture of American craft brewing to Barcelona. In 2014 Edge was voted World’s Best New Brewery by Rate Beer, and soon after they began selling their American-Catalan beer in the U.S., having already also won the title of Best Spanish Brewery.

Their impressive space in the Poblenou neighborhood just northeast of the old city cranks out 2,000HL per year, courtesy of its small, dedicated international staff, and also features a popular tasting room.

Edge Brewing is closely involved in the American equestrian community, devoting parts of its proceeds to charities benefiting retired racing animals.

BIERCAB


Opened in 2013 as Barcelona’s first serious craft bar, BierCab quickly became considered in some circles the world’s best just one year later. Founded by the pioneering Sven Bosch (of Naparbier fame), BierCab remains a local institution today, with its impressive draft rotation, unique interior design, and the requisite excellent tapas. Today it’s but one among many top-notch beer destinations in Barcelona, both much-loved and imitated.

DAY 2

Friday June 7

After a good night’s sleep (or lack thereof, depending on what occurred after BierCab the night before) guests will have the option of a free morning to recover and caffeinate or join our staff on a walking tour of some of the grandest sights and monuments of the city. This stroll, jam-packed with architectural marvels, leads to the seaside district of Barceloneta. By now hooking back up with the other guests, we’ll hit three fantastic spots in this unique, working-class fishing neighborhood: the quaint old-school bar Xampanyeria, where we’ll sip cava; the iconic tapas bar El Vaso de Oro, featuring the hearty beers of Cervesa Fort; and BlackLab, one of Barcelona’s best brewpubs, where we’ll be greeted by its American-expat brewer. We’ll then have an option of further sightseeing, or resting up for the evening, when we head out to Garage Beer Co’s production facility for a raucous open-air can-release party. We’ll mingle with locals, and try our luck with El Porrón!

  Breakfast included

Morning Sightseeing


Entered on one side via the stately Arc de Triomf, the grand Parc de la Ciutadella (City Park) is the most important oasis in the city, housing a zoo, the Catalan parliament, several museums, and a fantastical lake fountain. Outside the park grounds, the 14th-century Gothic Basilica Santa Maria del Mar anchors one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, El Born. Winding medieval streets then lead to waterfront pier area La Cara de Barcelona, and, time permitting, the city’s central beach Platja de la Barceloneta. This popular spot for locals is set against a backdrop of apartments forming part of the working-class neighborhood of Barceloneta, where several classic tapas bars can be found.

LA XAMPANYERIA


Founded in 1969, this bustling neighborhood bar has become a go-to for locals and visitors alike, thanks to its classic old-Barcelona atmosphere and unique focus on offering specialty sparkling wines in addition to beer, sandwiches, and tapas. Here cava is king, served at all hours to a friendly, jovial mix of local characters and anyone else looking for great atmosphere at old-world prices.

EL VASO DE ORO / Cerveza Fort


Legendary cervesería/bar El Vaso de Oro — the Golden Cup — is rightfully famous for its seaport location, rowdy local clientele, and world-class tapas. But the clincher, as if it needs one, is the liquid on draft — house beers made by the owner’s other holding, Cerveza Fort.

Founded in 2011, Fort crafts some seriously crazy concoctions (under the Barracuda name) for the U.S. market, but its perfect session beers — classic Pilsner as well as CA Common/Steam, among others — make up the very best tapas beer lineup in Spain.

BLACKLAB


Founded in 2014 by a Chinese-Spanish restaurateur and American brewer, BlackLab epitomizes the young, international/expat influence on Barcelona’s enthusiastic brewpub scene. Its approach to beer-making — focusing primarily on perfecting the classic styles, then adding a substantial dash of experimentation — is very much in line with the new Catalan brewing model, while its kitchen adds exotic Asian/New World flavors that pair well with the fresh ales & lagers on draft.

Afternoon Sightseeing


Barcelona’s first Parisian-style iron-and-glass market was built in 1876. Today it houses El Born Centre de Cultura, which offers historical exhibitions and archaeological sites dating back several hundred years. From here, a walk through the maze-like streets of El Born leads to the iconic Gòtic neighborhood and the massive Catedral de Barcelona, mainly built in the 14th century and since that time the most important religious edifice in Catalunya. A few blocks from here lies another gothic church from the 1300s, Basilica de Santa Maria del Pi. This entire central historical area of Barcelona, formed by the adjacent neighborhoods of El Born and Barri Gòtic, serves as a walking museum of Catalan and Mediterranean history, architecture, and culture.

L’Anima del Vi


Barcelona’s original natural wine bar set up shop in the ancient Born neighborhood in 2006. L’Anima del Vi was founded by a Frenchman, and features wines from his home country as well as Spain, all organic and without sulphates. Originally a simple bottle shop, the cosy neighborhood space is today as popular with slo-food fanatics as it is with wine enthusiasts.

GARAGE BREWING


Founded in 2015, expat-run Garage Brewing has seen a rapid expansion in a short time, recently moving the main production from their original brewpub to a new, soon-to-be 7500HL facility in the suburbs of Barcelona. The Italian and English brewers have from the beginning specialized in variations on the ever-popular IPA, but also have begun to focus on barrel-aged, sour, fruited, and wild yeast styles. Close relationships with brewers from elsewhere in Europe, as well as the U.S., have been instrumental in their representing for Barcelona the new, global spirit of the craft beer movement, and Garage’s ascendancy very much mirrors that of the city’s reputation as the world’s newest beer destination.

PORRÓN


Described as a cross between a wine bottle and a watering can, the porrón allows groups of imbibers to consume communally without touching their lips to the vessel — particularly when drinking is accompanied by food. Originating in Catalunya (where it’s called a porró), its proper use — held aloft at full arm’s length, allowing the liquid to sail through the air in a tight stream towards the mouth — is enforced rigorously, often to comical effect. Until recently, the porrón was reserved for wine — today the craft brewing community in Catalunya has taken to filling it up with beer.

DAY 3

Saturday June 8

After the excesses of Friday night, we have a glorious Saturday morning to sip java at a corner café, do a little shopping for espadrilles, or sleep it all off. But by 1 p.m. we board our chartered coach for the first of our four day trips!

Today we’ll roll southwest, into the Catalan hinterlands, to the little town that started it all — Mediona. Here is where the Shelton Brothers first discovered the magic of Spanish and Catalan craft beer, in its early stages. And here is found the coolest beer festival in the world.

  Breakfast included

MEDIONA CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL


In 2005, local homebrewer and Spanish artisanal-brewing “Godfather” Carlos Rodriguez presented the country’s first craft beer festival in the hilly, rugged village of Mediona, featuring a handful of amateur hopefuls pouring cervesa for curious townspeople. Today, the Mostra de Cerveza Artesanal de Mediona retains its unspoiled local mountain feel while attracting dozens of professional Spanish and international brewers to its gloriously rustic, all-ages, unpretentious mix of sun, good vibes, party music, ganja, tapas, and fine ales and lagers. Truly a beer festival without attitude…

DAY 4

Sunday June 9

No weekend trip to the Mediona Festival would be complete without dropping in at Masia Agullons, the ancient farmhouse where Agullons ales are brewed and sometimes cellared.  A stop-in at the annual Sunday morning afterparty there gives visitors a chance to mingle with local brewers, many of whom will have spent the night camped out in sleeping bags around the farmhouse grounds. Home-cooked food and draft beer will be offered, along with a casual personal tour of this most rustic of breweries. In the afternoon we’ll visit Bodega Mascaró, a winery smack in the middle of the region of Penedès — cava country. This third-generation family operation has been producing distillates, cavas and wines for more than 70 years, using only grapes from its own vineyards. We’ll have a tour and tasting, and will all probably buy too much cava. In the evening, after a great weekend in the country, we’ll settle back in to our hotel in Barcelona, and there will be a choice of free time or a gathering at a nearby craft beer restaurant.

  Brunch included

MASIA AGULLONS


At the turn of the millenium, Carlos Rodriguez began experimenting with home brewing in his farmhouse outside the Catalan mountain village of  Mediona.  Tinkering gradually became a passion,  and, after having already launched his own amateur craft beer festival, Carlos went professional in 2009, inspiring many other brewers through his example and encouragement. By the beginning of the next decade, there was a wave of new, commercial craft producers in Catalunya, all inspired by this “Godfather” of craft beer. Today Carlos oversees an ever-expanding village festival and farmhouse brewery, while fully retaining the local character of both.

BODEGA MASCARÓ


Mascaró cellars and distillery are located in the heart of Catalunya’s cava country just west of Barcelona. Here and in numerous other, mostly small wineries can be found the world-famous sparkling wine of Spain. But as with most producers in the area, cava is just one aspect of production — Mascaró offers a range of brandy, gin, and vermouth in addition to its world class wines.

DAY 5

Monday June 10

After a civilized late morning start, we’ll take a noon bus up the Mediterranean Wild Coast (Costa Brava) northeast of the city. Here we’ll visit the small, garage-like Marina brewery, run by the infectiously gregarious “Brewer Brothers” Pep and Kevin. After a tour and tasting — plankton ale, anyone? — we’ll head to the old seaside resort town of Blanes, with several hours free to either climb the Castle of San Joan for breathtaking views of the city and sea, wander the magnificent botanical gardens, stroll the quaint streets, or — hit the beach! In the evening the group will meet up again with the Brewer Brothers for a lively, festive dinner at classic Catalan boardwalk restaurant Va de Catas.

  Breakfast and dinner included

CERVEZA MARINA


In 2010, Pep and Kevin McCarry, aka the “Brewer Brothers,” founded Cerveza Marina in their seaside Catalan hometown of Blanes. One of the earliest Spanish craft brewers to go commercial, they began exporting to the U.S. in 2015 while focusing strongly on their local market. Their finest original efforts being typical of the pale and blond ale types that dominated early Spanish craft, they have also created some fascinating beers using local ingredients — notably, a sour plankton ale — and are very connected to top figures in the local food scene. They run their own annual festival, Birrasana.

BLANES


First settled during Pre-Roman times, Blanes is today a Catalan resort and port town which bills itself as the southern entry to the region known as the Costa Brava, or Wild Coast. Here wide sandy beaches begin to give way to a mix of surf with jagged rocks and cliffs. The city is a center for local cuisine, particularly seafood, and is known for its inviting bars and restaurants, its castle and botanical garden, and, of course, its beach, which features the famous rocky point “Sa Palomera” that juts dramatically out from the sea.

VA DE CATAS


Located just steps from the Blanes promenade and beach, Va de Catas is a local favorite. Its welcoming Catalan hospitality and excellent, varied menu of tapas and more formal dishes is enjoyed either in the casually elegant main restaurant or, on warmer nights, on the traditional open-air boardwalk.

DAY 6

Tuesday June 11

We’ll get an early start, as our last day is a full one! We’ll board the bus in the morning for the ride northwest to the Montseny mountain area. Stop #1, the brewery named after the range: Companyia Cervesera del Montseny, the first Spanish craft brewery to send beer to the U.S., and an inspiration to all fellow brewers in Catalunya. After our visit their brewery staff will accompany us to the beautiful old town of Vic, where we’ll hit the ages-old market in the medieval square. We’ll have a guided tour of the local Salchicón sausage makers, followed by a traditional lunch. Back in Barcelona in the afternoon, we’ll take a few hours to freshen up, and in the evening hit the town one last time, dining at the amazing natural wine-specialist hotspot Bar Brutal for our farewell dinner. Afterwards, for the heartiest partiers, there will be a bar crawl through the oldest streets of Barcelona, where cocktails, beer, sidra, and more wine await.

  Breakfast, lunch, and dinner included

COMPANYIA CERVESERA DEL MONTSENY


La Companyia Cervesera del Montseny (CCM) is among the most well-established modern Catalunyan craft breweries. Following its humble beginnings as a hobby for a group of beer-fanatic friends in wine-dominated Spain, CCM offered its first commercial products in 2007, just two years later becoming the first such company to export to the United States. The brewery has enjoyed steadily rising sales and expansion since its inception, and in 2016 achieved worldwide recognition by being vote the best artisanal brewery, and top medal winner, at the first Barcelona Beer Challenge.

VIC


Vic is a town of ancient origin. Well-known in Roman times, it played strategic roles in various conflicts dating back to the 8th century, and from the 17th century until the present has been a hotbed of Catalan independence sentiment. It’s central Square, Plaça Major, retains its original Medieval feel, especially during the weekly Tuesday market.

CASA REIRA ORDEIX


Casa Reira Ordeix has been producing the finest Salchichón de Vic — the classic cured sausage of this part of Catalunya — for six generations. Founded in 1852, the family-run company is still based at its original site near Vic’s main square and has continued to produce essentially this single product, whose fame has spread throughout the country and beyond.

EL BARECU


A gourmet restaurant in the old town of Vic, El Barecu combines the best of Catalan, Asian, and Brazilian cuisine. Its dynamic and always-changing menu focuses on small tastings and features a special sharing menu for big groups. An extra bonus is the excellent list of local Montseny beers.

BAR BRUTAL/CAN CISA


One of Barcelona’s most popular destinations, the eccentric taverna-style Bar Brutal/Can Cisa serves up serious food and wine and is frequented by visitors and locals alike. Quirkily decorated, but with a rustic vibe, it’s the perfect place to sample authentic tapas, and a magnet for enthusiasts and debutantes of natural wine.

DAY 7

Wednesday June 12

Our tour has ended, but guides will be available in the early part of the day to assist anyone needing help getting to the airport or regional/international trains.

For those continuing their holidays, Barcelona is of course a main air and railway hub for Catalunya, Spain, Europe, and the globe.

  Breakfast included

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