Summer is nearly hear. Temperatures are climbing. The sun is beaming. That means only one thing: BEER!
The ice-cold golden god of cheap drinking is one of Barcelona’s specialties. Your trips to the local watering hole will usually include a bottle of Moritz, Estrella Damm or San Miguel – Barcelona’s top three beer brands and available in one form or another in almost any bar.
Draft beer or in the bottle, you’ll find Moritz, Estrella and San Miguel waiting to be quaffed as you explore Barcelona’s busy streets. And with summer around the corner, our guide comes at just the right time. Bottoms up!
You can thank Louis Moritz, a Frenchman from the Alsace province, for Moritz. He emigrated to Barcelona in 1951, started brewing his own beer and opened the brewery’s first factory in 1856 in Barcelona’s Raval neighborhood.
During the Spanish Civil War (according to Wikipedia) the brewery became a collectively-owned entity but returned to the Moritz’ private ownership after the conflict ended. Moritz’ Sant Antoni brewery is now a popular destination for a cold beer and a bite to eat.
When it comes to barilla (from the tap) beers made and served in Barcelona, Moritz, in our opinion, is the best beer you can find. It’s got a lighter, less syrupy feel than Estrella and it also has some tasty fruitiness to it.
Bottles of Moritz will cost you a bit more than its counterparts Estrella and San Miguel, but the price difference is worth the experience if you want an elevated beer experience within Barcelona’s big three.
Tipsy tip: Try the Epidor, a 7.2% AVB version of the usual 5.4% ABV Moritz. You’ll know the Eipdor by its orange label.
Estrella Damm was founded in 1876 by August Kuentzmann Damm, a German guy who came to Barcelona with his wife Melanie after they fled southern France during the Franco-Prussian War. Old August’s influence live in on the brewery today — Estrella’s Master Brewer is an 11th-generation Damm.
Estrella has a thicker, more syrupy taste than Moritz and San Miguel and it tends to make you more full than the other two. It also has a bit more bitterness than Moritz and San Mig. We think its robustsness is due to the rice used in the four-ingredient mix.
When we think of a beer that defines Barcelona, we think “Estrella”. The beer’s full name is Estrella Damm. There’s just something magical about the red can with the gold star…each can has a matte finish on it that gives it an extra touch of blue collarness. We love this beer…it’s our favorite every-day drinker.
Tipsy Tip: Try Inedit, a classed-up version of Estrella that famous chef Ferran Adria designed. It’s got amazing flavors and a certain lightness you’ll love. Plus, the bottle looks awesome.
Est. 1890 (Philippines), 1953 (Barcelona)
Unlike Moritz and Estrella, which were founded by foreigners who lived in Spain, San Miguel was founded in 1890 by a Spaniard, Enrique Barreto, who lived in the Philippines. In 1946, San Miguel President Andres Soriano, Sr., opened a San Miguel Brewery in Barcelona. In 1953, the brewery broke away from the official Philippines company and became it’s own brand but kept the same name.
San Miguel is pretty much the Coors Light of Barcelona’s beer. It doesn’t have the refinement of Moritz and it doesn’t have the body and the rice-malty goodness of Estrella. It’s lighter, fizzy and it doesn’t have too much bitterness.
Though it doesn’t have the style points of its counterparts, it’s a great summer beer because it’s so light. Plus, a San Miguel will usually cost you a little less that the others.
Tipsy Tip: Try the San Miguel 1516 … it’s like regular San Miguel in a tuxedo. Tastes a little more refined and comes in a boss bottle.
Scattered about the bar scene in Barcelona is a mish-mash of beers from Spain and beyond. Mahou is a Madrid beer, and Madrid anything doesn’t go over well in Barcelona. Cruzcampo is Spain’s bestselling beer in terms of volume and is produced in the southern region of Andalucia. Bars and restaurants have recently started serving German beers, with Heineken becoming a popular quaff in the Catalán capital.