Monday, March 10, 2014


Last time I was in Spain in 2010, it was a bit of a surprise to find even a tiny handful of small, artisanal beermakers like MASIA AGULLONS making robust, fresh ales influenced by Belgian, US and UK styles. I was pretty psyched to see that even in a hot-weather, Southern European clime like Spain's that craft beer was becoming a big(ger) deal. You all probably know that Italy, too, is undergoing a major craft beer headrush, as my post here from 2011 only slightly illustrates. So now that I've gone back to Barcelona, Spain just a couple of weeks ago, the improvement in craft beer availability and its penetration into the broader drinking culture is exponential. It is no longer a tough slog to try and find an excellent glass of beer in Southern Europe. We at Beer Samizdat believe this is a very good thing, for Spaniards and travelers alike.

The beer new Spanish brewer we discovered this time was Pamplona's NAPARBIER. Pamplona's where they do the running of the bulls, and though I've never had any interest in that, if by chance I got to swing by their brewery and taste all their many amazing-looking creations in one fell swoop, I think I might even be up for doing the bull thing afterwards. Naparbier are already doing collaborations with Evil Twin and Haandbryggeriet, so my guess is that it's me that's late to the Naparbier party, and that you and other beer experts may already be very familiar with them.

I drank three of their beers whilst in Barcelona. In all fairness, I found one of them to be not particularly good, but the other two were exceptional. No accounting for taste, right? First off, there's this "AVANT GARDE 2013 BELGIAN ALE DUBBEL" you see pictured here. Wow. It had been a long time since I'd had a dubbel, and this helped me to remember why I love them so much when they're done right. Sweet prune and raisin malts bring just tons of flavor. It had a thinner body, no head to speak of, and a 8.4% alcohol content that I only felt after drinking it, not on the tongue during. Incredible stuff, and the essence of "great beer travel". It really put me in a hell of a good mood. 8.5/10.

Then there was this "UNDEAD" imperial IPA that I had at Biercab. I didn't really take notes of it, because I was too busy chewing the fat with some pals, but I know I stopped and did a double take a few times at how amazingly delicious it was. It was nearly in a league with that Siren/Cigar City/Grassroots double IPA I told you about last week. It's apparently in bottles, so my mistake in not grabbing one to stuff into my suitcase. If you go to Spain anytime soon, would you please pick one up for me? Thanks! 9/10.

Finally, there was the bottle of the ZZ Top-themed "ZZ+" that I'd just as soon forget. Maybe I wasn't in the mood for a highly carbonated amber ale that was bitter and hoppy in all the wrong ways. Or maybe I got a bad bottle, because this was so out of line with their other magnificent creations. A friend had this on draft at Biercab the night after I had my bottle, and he pronounced it "very good". So who's to say, right? In any case, these Napabier folks definitely have my attention, and I'm hoping they start importing their wares into the US of A so we all can drink more of them. As it was, I was able to smuggle this thing into the country - report forthcoming.

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