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Barcelona Itinerary2018-08-22T22:35:38+00:00

“Today in Spain you’ll find the most vibrant and fun new craft beer scene in the world, centered around one the world’s most beautiful and vibrant cities, Barcelona. But there’s much more to see just outside Barça too, in the Catalan provinces, as you’ll soon discover….”

– Joel Shelton

DAY 1

Welcome To The Garages Of Barcelona

Thursday October 25

Our official tour begins in the evening, but for those already rarin’ to go, we’ll meet at 2:00 in the hotel lobby for a walk on the city’s iconic pedestrian avenue Las Ramblas.

At 5:00 we’ll meet and head to the sparkling-new Garage Brewing Company for a private, exclusive bottle share party, where we’ll hobnob with international brewers and local beer cognoscenti. Later in the evening the action will drift to the original, popular Garage brewpub, situated in one of the city’s premier nightlife/beer areas, where can be found any number of lively craft (including the pioneering BierCab) or tapas bars.

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 US, 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.

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 US, 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, but much-loved and imitated.

DAY 2

Brewfest, Brewpub, Brutal Wine

Friday October 26

After our morning cappuccino, we’ll depart at 11:00 for the opening VIP session of the MASH festival. There will be two sessions each on Friday & Saturday (12-5 & 6-10), and our guests will have VIP admission to all 4; today we’ll lead groups to/from the first session only—the second session is optional.  Those attending the first session only will be hosted at 8:00 for a tour & tapas at the architecturally-marvelous NaparBcn with legendary founder Sven Bosch. Naparbier brewer Beinat Gutierrez will then lead us on to further debauchery at natural wine destination Bar Brutal.

MASH


The MASH craft beer festival brings its second edition back to the funky outer-Barcelona industrial space La Nau Bostik October 25-26, 2018.  Founding partners and local brewers Garage and Edge have now teamed up with Shelton Brothers to bring an elevated international flavor to the city’s newest beer fest, with an impressive lineup of top brewers attending from Europe and the U.S.  This second annual event will also feature the addition of sidras from several local producers.

NAPARBCN


NaparBcn is the second Barcelona craft beer mecca created by Sven Bosch, already legendary for BierCab.  If anything it’s even more impressive than its predecessor, with a striking and dazzling metallic industrial interior that of course features its own Naparbier (of Pamplona) satellite brewery, as well as a range of international drafts.

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 3

Optional Siesta, Obligatory Fiesta

Saturday October 27

There will be 3 options to start the day:

1 — 12:00 MASH VIP session

2 — A 12:00 sightseeing tour

3 — Free time to wander on your own, sip a restorative café or two, buy espadrilles, or sleep off the last two late nights.

At 4:00, we’ll head out to the 4th & final session of MASH. Immediately after the session ends (at 10:00), there will be further debauchery, at either a semi-official or unofficial festival after party. Be prepared to drink from the porrón!

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 4

Fort-ifying Tapas, Refortifying Cocktails

Sunday October 28

At 11:30 we’ll head off to the classic, harbor-area tapas bar El Vaso de Oro, where owner Gabriel Fort (who also owns the Fort brewery) and Fort brewer Federico Gorgone co-host a special brunch. El Vaso features by far the best tapas bar draft beer (all from Fort) in Barcelona, great eats, and a marvelously frenetic atmosphere. Post-brunch we will have several hours free to see the sights, do some shopping, or rest up! In the evening the inimitable local beer impresario Edu Martinez will lead us on a colorful sidra & cocktail crawl through the city’s most exotic, ancient neighborhoods.

  Brunch included

EL VASO DE ORO


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 US 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.

DAY 5

Brewing Brothers of the Wild Coast

Monday October 29

After a civilized late morning start, we’ll take a 1:00 chartered 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 & Kevin. After a tour & tasting — plankton ale, anyone? — we’ll head to the old town of Blanes, with several hours free to either climb the Castillo de San Joan for breathtaking views of the city & sea, wander the magnificent botanical gardens, stroll the quaint streets, or lounge around the beach.  At 7:00 the group will meet up again with the Brewer Brothers for a cosy dinner at classic Catalan boardwalk restaurant Va de Catas.

  Dinner included

CERVEZA MARINA


In 2010, Pep & 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 US 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 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, jutting rocky point, or “Sa Palomera,” which juts dramatically out from the sea.

VA DE CATAS


Located just steps from the Blanes promenade & 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

The Hippy Godfather & The Hipster Cava

Tuesday October 30

We’ll meet the bus at the crack of 12:00 and trek west, out to the Catalunyan hinterlands. Here, in the isolated, hilly small town of Mediona, Carlos Rodriguez, the “Godfather” of Spanish craft beer, will welcome us to his 12th century stone farmhouse brewery, Masia Agullons. Here are created some of the world’s best classic session pales, as well as Spain’s original wild yeast, barrel aged sours & lambic-influenced ales, in a funky Catalan-style Bohemian setting. Carlos’ wife Montse will prepare lunch in the massive centuries-old kitchen, while Carlos may perhaps tap a few pints from a keg in the drawing room and show off his ancient cellar.

Later we’ll drive back towards Barcelona, through historic cava country, where we’ll meet Xavier Serra–formerly of the Guineu brewery, now with wine company Petit Celler–who will lead us on an authentic cave tour, dinner, and tasting at the Oriol Rossel winery.

  Lunch and Dinner included

MASIA AGULLONS


In 2000, Carlos Rodriguez began experimenting with home brewing in his farmhouse outside the Catalan mountain village of Mediona. His tinkering gradually became a passion, and by 2005 he had founded his own artisanal beer celebration — the Mostra de Cerveza Artisanal, more commonly known as the Mediona Festival. In the event’s early years, craft brewers in Spain were fully amateur. But by 2009, Carlos went professional, leading others by example, and 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.

CAVA TOUR


Oriol Rossel is an estate winery with a family history dating back at least four-hundred years.

The vineyards, located only ten miles from the Mediterranean near Barcelona, are certified by the Catalan Regulatory Board for Ecological Agricultural Production, and all grapes here — varieties including Xarel-Lo, Parellada, Macabeo, Muscat, Shirah—are harvested by hand, carefully transported in tiny crates to insure no loss in quality.

Cava production began only in the 20th century but has rapidly expanded with the growing popularity of Catalan sparkling wine.

DAY 7

of Mountains, Chestnuts, and Witches

Wednesday October 31

At 11:00 the bus will take us northwest, into the Montseny mountain region. Here the friendly folks at Companyia Cervesera del Montseny (or CCM) will guide us through their beautiful state-of-the-art brewery, then treat us to a special outdoor lunch with spectacular mountain views. Specialties of the day include seasonal chestnut desserts & their special imperial brown chestnut beer — October 31st being the traditional celebration day for the little nuggets, called castanyas. After lunch we’ll go through a natural park area to the old town of Viladrau, visiting the historical farmhouse, Pujol de Muntanya, where the castanyas are marketed, and at sundown, have reserved seats in the main square for the annual, spooky, bonfire-lit Ball de Les Bruixes (Witches Ball). All in all, a truly uniquely Catalan way to spend Hallowe’en!

  Lunch 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.

VILADRAU


Viladrau, a quaint village of approximately 1,000 inhabitants, nestles under the shadow of the Guilleries and Montseny ranges in the mountainous countryside about forty miles north of Barcelona. Famed as a literary retreat, and situated near a popular national park area, it’s also a de facto chestnut capital,  most notably offering its prized “castanyas” at the historical Pujol de Muntanya farm. Every year, on All Saints Eve, the town —  known historically as the most popular Catalan location for witch executions — puts on El Ball de les Bruixes, a fiery Witches Ball in the center market square.

DAY 8

You Can’t Stay Forever

Thursday November 1

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 & railway hub for Catalunya, Spain, Europe, & the globe.

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