Craft beer in Barcelona

Barcelona has a reputation as a very cool, cultured and trendy city and it’s also in the midst of a beer revolution. Although Estrella and the like dominate, there are now a growing number of smaller breweries popping up in the city and craft beer bars opening their doors.

We recently spent a weekend exploring the city and here’s a little look at some of the bars and breweries we visited in Barcelona.

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The Black Bull Inn – Coniston

Another month and another stay in a historic pub! But the Black Bull Inn in the heart of the Lake District isn’t just a pub – it’s also the home of the Coniston Brewery. This is one of Ross’ favourite breweries so this is how I ended up in the middle of the Lakes after five hours sleep (I’d been to Cyprus for a few days for a wedding but I digress).

The pub dates back more than 400 years and still provides accommodation for weary travellers like me at reasonable rates (£100 per double room including breakfast).

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The pub itself is delightfully traditional – brass ornaments, roaring fires and plenty of seating which made it exactly my type of place.
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Unsurprisingly, the majority of the beers are Coniston but there were also a few guest ciders as well as a Weissbier available.

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We arrived, checked in then decided to pop in for a pint before going for a little wander so I went for a half of the Thursten Pilsner, which was a refreshing little drink.

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Later that evening, we dined in the pub (starter of spring rolls to share followed by fish and chips for me and chilli for Ross, with a pecan pie for dessert) so we managed to sample most of the selection between us during that time.

I started with the afore mentioned Weissbier – Sanwald Weizen. I’ve not tried this one before and it did have nice flavours but was not as thick as I’d prefer a wheat beer to be. Probably better to have with food compared with the more traditional and heavier weissbiers though!

After this I moved on to the Coniston beers. Many of them are named after events and landmarks in the area with a number inspired by Donald Campbell and Bluebird – an attempt to break the landspeed record on the nearby Coniston Water.

Infinity IPA was my next selection. This (along with the K7) had a more modern pump clip than the others so I’m not sure if it’s part of a new range or simply being targeted at a different audience. Either way, I enjoyed this 6 per cent IPA very much especially because it had very strong flavours of hops which I absolutely love.

A lighter beer was on the cards next – Oliver’s Light Ale. This is 3.4 per cent and nice and easy to drink. Not quite sure who Oliver is though!

I finished off with Old Man Ale, named after the nearby hill. A ruby ale with rich flavours combined with a smooth taste, this 4.8 per cent-er is ideal for lovers of more traditional ales.

The pub itself is lively yet welcoming with a main bar area as well as a resident’s lounge where we sat. Coniston generally have something to appeal to everyone with their range and it’s definitely worth the trek to go for a trip. As well as sampling the majority of the range while we were there, we also came back with a few bottles and the brewery does seem to be increasing in popularity with their flagship Bluebird Bitter available in supermarkets (the Tesco on Market Street in Manchester city centre at least!)

And if you’re wondering, breakfast was a hearty fry up with lots of toast!

Beer apps

Beer drinking is an activity which has generally remained unchanged for hundreds of years.

But as technology makes our life easier, it also makes deciding what and where to drink easier too.

Being of the ‘smartphone generation’ I’m a big fan of apps and there are so many available these days that I like trying new ones and seeing what else is out there. I’m an Android user and luckily these days most apps are released for the platform at the same time as iPhone.

Here’s my thoughts on a couple I’ve tried.

Perfect Pint

Oh I so want to love this app. The general idea is good – check in to a pub with what you’re drinking and it builds up a view of what you like then recommends when some of your favourites are available in new locations. There’s also a little game of beer bingo with it so it marks of the various beverages you’ve sampled. The latest update also includes beer vouchers if you check in to certain locations.

It all sounds really good in theory. The problem is the execution. I lost patience with it and deleted it when I tried to check in at the Marble Arch and it told me I was too far away from it to check in despite being sat in the pub and deleted it. Then I tried it again but it kept crashing. I’m back on it for a third time trying again to see if it is now bug-free. It’s a shame I’ve had bad experiences with it as I do desperately want to love it!

Good Beer Guide

This is Camra’s own app. I’ve never used it before but while I’m blogging about beer apps I thought I should give it a go.

The most important thing about this app is although it is free, it’s very limited without paying for a subscription. Disappointingly, it’s not free for Camra members which I would expect. I’ve had a look around and it’s not very exciting. But as I’ve not paid for it I can’t see it all. However, from a little browse it’s basically a list of names and addresses of pubs so doesn’t inspire me to pay for it.

Untappd

This is my current obsession. It is very similar to Perfect Pint but a lot more functional. You choose the beer you’re drinking then can check in to a location or not, which is ideal if you’re enjoying a tipple at home. It’s basically the opposite of Perfect Pint as it’s got more of a focus on the beer rather than the pub. The location search comes from Foursquare data (but you don’t need to use Foursquare to have an account) and you also unlock badges as you go. Other features include adding friends, following breweries you like and seeing nearby pubs and popular beers. And the best part about it is it works! I’ve not found any bugs and although it is from the US it includes every English brewery I’ve searched for so far.

So there are my little reviews of three of the apps available out there. Out of these three, Untappd wins hands down but I’m interested to see what else developers come up with to enhance the drinking experience!