Barcino Brewers began in 2011, on a rooftop in El Gòtico. It started with 3 friends, who were bored of the beers available, here in Barcelona. They brewed beers for themselves to enjoy and to supply their own bars at the time. It has grown and expanded since then and they now offer 4 different beers, named after separate neighbourhoods in Barcelona. They were around at the start of the craft beer movement here in Barcelona and have expanded to now sell in excess of 300,000 bottles of beer, across the city.
Read on, to hear a little bit of their story.
Before starting up Barcino Brewers, what lead you to Barcelona?
I was an english teacher and then eventually a bar owner. Then a Brewer.
Have you always been interested in brewing your own drinks?
Actually I had the idea to home brew cider when I was a teenager and sell it to my schoolmates. But that was more to make money and also to get high on my own supply. It was also illegal on about 4 different levels. Then I started brewing again here many years ago on my roof terrace and supplying just my friends and my own bar. It became really popular and so decided to brew commercially.
What made you think there was a gap in the market in this city?
Because Barcelona was behind everywhere else in Europe in terms of the craft beer trend (except for maybe France.) And because the food revolution here had begun to follow the same route as everywhere else so I saw no reason to think beer wouldn’t do the same.
The craft beer scene has really taken the world by storm recently, what is the concept behind your brand?
Simplicity.We have four non complicated craft beers that could be seen as introduction beers. We wanted to make beers we love ourselves and that made us start drinking craft beer in the first place. No scary ingredients like Brewers Beard hair and average to low alcohol levels.
Sometimes it seems there is a really silly attitude in the craft beer world that brewers should strive to make really weird experimental beers, and if someone doesn’t like them then they are ‘wrong’. A person can’t be wrong about taste. A person can be uniformed about ingredients and their health implications. But, presuming all craft beers care about using natural methods and ingredients as much as possible, then after that you have to respect the taste of the public. Its not punk music. Its food. Keep it simple.
Are people willing to pay a little more for a premium product?
So far yes. A person who is not willing to do that will not be interested in Craft beer in the first place. The problem will begin as craft beer gets more popular here you will get big investment products, like Brew Dog etc, that will come along and undercut the smaller guys with equally good product. This is not really avoidable.
Lots of foodie entrepreneurs are doing well in Barcelona at the moment, why do you think that is?
We need to be careful with that assumption. Lots of places are opening but also lots of places are closing. ‘Doing well’ is a term thrown around too much. In five years time the best places will survive, but I would estimate that will be about 25% of the ones that are ‘doing well’ now. It depends on the underlying motivation. Generally speaking, and there lots of exceptions, its a combination of luck and the underlying motivation of the person behind it. If the person genuinely sees a lack of something that they love they will make other people love it too. And there will be a buzz around it. Whereas if someone is just riding a wave of the next cool thing they will burn out and eventually disappear. Its tiring to try to keep up but its energizing to be in the lead.
With more people turning to distilling their own gin, and making their own wine, do you think we will see a rise in people making their own beer at home?
For sure. Its a good thing. It only makes businesses like ours sell more. Not the opposite. The more craft beer in the world the better.
Any hot new ingredients to look out for in 2017? What can we expect to see from Barcino this year?
There are hops that become very fashionable like Citra did last year, and because of that popularity they become very scarce. Im sure there is a popular trends this year, like juicy IPAs or chili beers, but its not something that interests me terribly. This year we are moving into supermarkets and more non conventional craft beer sources and hopefully it will be the year where you get genuinely get a craft beer wherever you go in Barcelona. That was more or less our aim from the beginning. We will probably do a new beer in the summer but haven’t finalised it yet. In terms of food; something to watch out for, my good friends are doing smoked foods: fish, meat, everything. They are even smoking butter. Their project is called Rooftop Smokehouse. They are doing really interesting stuff, and I guarantee you will get a lot of copy cats smoking food this year.
Photos by Iris Humm