Beer, Glorious Beer!
Best Costa Brava Beer Bars

🕔 15 mins (total)
More and more Catalan bars are offering a greater variety of beers.
More and more Catalan bars are offering a greater variety of beers.

There are many wonderful things about living on La Costa Brava here in Catalunya. The climate and the relatively affordable cost of living are among the main attractions for northern Europeans, and the food and wine are pretty damn good here too! However, nowhere is absolutely perfect and one drawback for some folk is the lack of choice when it comes to going for a few brewskis. If lager is your tipple of choice, then you probably don’t need to read any further – you’re fine! If you like something with a bit more body, please continue reading.

The fizzy yellow!

In the past, Spain had a pretty poor reputation when it came to beer and, for the most part, justifiably so. Somewhat surprisingly, Spain is currently (2023) the second largest producer of beer in Europe, second only to Germany, but in the past, the vast majority of all beer produced in the country used to be brewed by just three companies, albeit under various names.

Heineken, who already had their own El Äguila breweries, bought the five Cruzcampo breweries owned by Diageo (Guinness) and then were forced by the market regulator to sell two of their own (in Valencia and Madrid) to Damm, which was originally based solely in Barcelona. The third was formed when Mahou of Madrid bought San Miguel from Danone (who owned Kronenbourg) to create the Mahou-San Miguel group.

About 90% of the beer available throughout the country came from one of these three – and it was pretty much all the same stuff, regardless of the label on the bottle. Your ‘classic’ Spanish brew was always a pale and not very hoppy type of pilsner lager, which is fine if lager happens to be your beer of preference, but pretty annoying if it’s not! Here in Catalunya, Moritz (originally founded in 1856 but bankrupted in 1978) was resurrected in 2004 – only to produce even more of the same “fizzy yellow”!

A better version of this ‘classic’ style of pilsner beer has also been produced on a smaller scale by Estrella Galicia, a family-run brewery founded in A Coruña in 1906 by José Maria Rivera. It is still run by the same family to this day under the name of Hijos de Rivera (Sons of Rivera) and their beers are becoming much more widely available throughout Spain in recent years. This company is now brewing a decent variety of styles of beer, and of better quality than what most of the bigger breweries produce.

Of your standard Spanish lager or pilsner-style beers, Estrella Galicia and Alhambra (owned by the Mahou-San Miguel group) are probably the best, and Cruzcampo and San Miguel probably the worst – but a lot of bars still only have one beer on tap regardless and not many more varieties in bottles, so you might find yourself with little choice. What’s frustrating is that nearly all the above-mentioned breweries do produce other varieties of beer but due to the prevailing (lack of) beer culture, they are not marketed well and are not widely available in bars.

The good stuff

So, blah-blah, enough about the crappy beers of Spain you say, and you’d be right! Let’s move on to the good stuff!

The great news is that things are improving, even if the pace of change is typically Spanish (read: “a bit on the slow side”)! And the better news is that, despite being more commonly associated with wine and cava, Catalunya is one of the regions leading the, ahem, “charge”! In 2006 there were only about a dozen craft breweries in Catalunya, but now they number over a hundred and produce over 3 million litres of beer annually. While this is not even 1% of total beer consumed here, the growth rate over the last few years has been over 300%, so they’re certainly headed in the right direction at least.

If you’re on the hunt for some of these tasty beverages, you’ll find more in the cities of Barcelona and Girona than in smaller towns, as you’d expect, but it’s always worth checking in any bar you find yourself in as you just never know where a lovely ale or maybe even a stout might be lurking! So don’t just ask for “una canya” or “una cervesa” as the tendency is for bar staff to just serve a canya of lager without letting you know about any other types of beer they might have available.

And we’re not just talking about craft beers here. In the past, it would have been difficult to even find imported beers from such wonderful beer-producing countries as Belgium, Ireland, Germany, the USA or UK. You could find certain brands in some supermarkets, but finding them in bars was a trickier proposition. Thankfully this situation is also slowly but surely beginning to change.

So where can I find some good beers?

In the past Irish pubs would have always been your best port of call if searching for foreign or craft beers in Spain, but thankfully, many local bar owners have cottoned on to the changing market and are beginning to stock some fine brews too, both foreign and domestic. In Barcelona, there are too many to mention, but a quick search on Google Maps will yield results. Here we’ll focus on Girona and the Costa Brava-Empordà region.

Girona City

In Girona, there is an ever-growing number of bars that carry at least a few craft or imported beers, so you shouldn’t find it difficult to find something decent to drink. Here are just a handful of the most interesting bars that have great beer selections, starting from the bottom end of La Rambla and walking northwards:

B-12

Just off the beginning of La Rambla, right in the heart of Old Town Girona, this place is both a vegan restaurant and a bar. All their beers are microbrewed and Catalan. The last time we checked, they had over 50 bottled beers to choose from, five more on tap that rotate, plus a number of guest beers that also change regularly. All told, that makes for about 70 brews, and, as we mentioned, they’re all Catalan.

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B-12 is both a vegan restaurant and a Catalan craft beer bar.
B-12 is both a vegan restaurant and a Catalan craft beer bar.

McKiernan’s

This is a fairly typical Irish-owned pub with all the usual imported beers and ciders you’d expect, plus a few television sets for watching sports. Located as it is right on La Rambla itself, the terrace is a perfect spot to watch the world go by while enjoying a pint of Guinness, an IPA, a weißbier, or maybe a cider.

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Some examples of what’s available at McKiernan’s
Some examples of what’s available at McKiernan’s

Kerunta Brewpub

On the other side of the river, half a block from Plaça de la Independència, this brewpub, as the name suggests, brews its own beers. Apart from their range of bottled and canned beers, they have a dozen taps, with two pouring their own brews and the rest serving a mix of both imported and domestic beers on a rotating basis. They have a blackboard explaining the selection on offer at any time (style, where it’s from, strength of alcohol, and price), and the staff are friendly and happy to answer any questions you might have. There is plenty of seating, and they also do some very nice food.

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Kerunta Brewpub near Plaça de la Independència in Girona
Kerunta Brewpub near Plaça de la Independència in Girona

Bagels & Beers

Half a block off the other side of Plaça de la Independència, this place specializes in… well, the name says it all really, doesn’t it? But the bagels aren’t just any old bagels but rather bagels as you’ve probably never seen them before! As for the second half of the title, they have six craft brews on tap that change regularly, so even if you visit a number of times, there should still be something new for you to try.

The selection of craft beers in bottles and cans is pretty extensive, and the prices are fair. The staff are super friendly, and the owner is British, so you can ask all your questions in English if you like. And if you have someone along with you who is a bit less adventurous when it comes to microbrews, they also serve Estrella Galicia, which, as Spanish lagers go, is amongst the better ones.

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Bagels & Beers is a pretty cool bar with some pretty cool taps!
Bagels & Beers is a pretty cool bar with some pretty cool taps!

Babilonia

Only another minute’s walk away (this is definitely a good neighbourhood for good beers!) and across the road from the beautiful Parc de la Devesa is a relatively new addition called Babilonia. Here they serve sixteen all-natural craft brews on tap, which you can check out on the menu on their website (available in English). They also sell a range of mostly imported bottled beers, plus a couple of local ones as well as organic wine, cider and kombucha, and even a handful of beer-based cocktails! Worth checking out.

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Babilonia is a relatively new addition to the craft beer scene in Girona City.
Babilonia is a relatively new addition to the craft beer scene in Girona City.

El Doll

This bar used to be worth visiting for the novelty value of the beer taps on each table, allowing customers to pour their own pints or canyas. You pay at the bar and get “credit” on your table’s tap, and when your credit runs out, you just top up again at the bar. It’s kinda fun, but the beer on tap in question at some tables is San Miguel, so choose carefully where you sit! Novelty factor aside, you might be better off going for something from the selection of bottled and canned beers they have available these days, including brews from Belgium, Germany the USA, and a few local Catalan ones as well.

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El Doll is a pretty cool bar in the heart of old town Girona with something to suit all comers.
El Doll is a pretty cool bar in the heart of old town Girona with something to suit all comers.

La Taverna del Drac al Cau del Llop

This bar is fairly new on the scene. They originally set up shop in Sant Feliu de Guíxols, but after only about a year or so, they relocated to Girona in August 2022. They have 12 different varieties of their own beer and, unlike many other craft brews, these are all fairly low in alcohol content and so could be classified as session beers. The tavern also stocks other bottled varieties, as well as their own, and their website even has a page on the “benefits of beer”! The food menu is vegan-vegetarian, and you can check out both the food and beer menus on their website in Catalan, Spanish and English.

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La Taverna del Drac sells a range of its own craft beers along with a selection of imported brews.
La Taverna del Drac sells a range of its own craft beers along with a selection of imported brews.

Costa Brava + Empordà

While most bars along the Costa Brava are still the one-beer-on-tap variety, don’t despair – hope is at hand, as things are definitely improving! The following are a handful of places worth checking out that have a decent variety in their beer selection. No doubt there are more, but even we can’t go to every bar in the area, try as we might! We’re working on it, but in the meantime, you’ll just have to do some exploring yourselves!

Platja d’Aro

Craft Room

A relatively new addition, the Craft Room is a small but welcoming place right on the main drag in Platja d’Aro. They have eight craft beers on tap, predominantly Catalan craft brews but also some foreign ones. At the time of our visit, for example, they also had one from France and another from Ireland. The tap beers change from time to time, and there is a good selection of bottles and cans, too. It is American-run, so you can ask all the questions you like in English! They also serve food.

The new Craft Room bar in Platja d’Aro
The new Craft Room bar in Platja d’Aro

Cactus Bar

If you want to catch a  game on TV, this is by far the best sports bar in the region, with (at least) 8 screens and with lots of TV channels from several countries. They have live music from time to time too, and you can check their Facebook page to see what’s on. While you’re watching your match, you can choose from a great selection of imported beers – especially Belgian – and almost all with the proper glass to go with each one! They also have Guinness on tap and serve pub grub-style food.

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The Cactus bar on the main drag in Platja d’Aro has an impressive selection of Belgian beers.
The Cactus bar on the main drag in Platja d’Aro has an impressive selection of Belgian beers.

Before we leave Platja d’Aro, let us just tell you about Oktoberfest which, unlike its much more famous Bavarian namesake, actually does take place in October! This year’s edition (2023) runs over five days (11-15) and you can find out more about it through this link.


And before we begin in our next town of Palamós, let us tell you about Mar de Birres! The Mar de Birres craft beer fair is coming back to Palamós for its 5th edition on Saturday, 7 October 2023. In fairness, they’d be further along than only their 5th, but they’ve been very unlucky with previous events having had to be cancelled due to adverse weather conditions and, of course, Covid! The event takes place from midday to midnight near the main port (by the nets) and, apart from the craft beers, there will also be food trucks and live music.

Palamós

Palamós is slowly but surely becoming the No.1 Costa Brava town for beer lovers, with more and more bars selling more and more brews. The following are just a few of the better ones we know of.

Bitàcora

Run by a young Catalan couple, this very popular spot has Pilsner Urquell from Czechia on tap and a fine selection of Belgian and American bottled microbrews as well as some domestic ones you are unlikely to find anywhere else around. They regularly rotate or change what’s available too, so there’s usually some new brew to try – although the Belgian beers are mostly always available. The food here is really fantastic too – arguably the best in Palamós! They even host an occasional beer-tasting session with an expert brought in to explain the beers to you as you drink them. Not that you’d need any advice on how to drink, of course!

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Bitácora always has an interesting - and constantly changing - selection of beers available.
Bitàcora always has an interesting – and constantly changing – selection of brews available.

The Currach

This small Irish-owned and operated bar, a stone’s throw from the church in the centre of town, has two Irish craft beers on tap plus about a half dozen or so bottled beers, both imported and local. The draft beer is also craft beer, produced by O’Hara’s Brewery in Ireland and now distributed throughout Spain by Estrella Galicia. There is a very lovely IPA, and a stout that we think is even better than Guinness! Controversial, we know, but that’s what we think! Despite its small size, this is a also good place for watching sports, including rugby, Gaelic football and hurling, and other sports not easily viewable in Catalunya.

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The Currach has two Irish craft beers from O’Hara’s on tap, a stout and an IPA, plus a variety of bottled beers.
The Currach has two Irish craft brews from O’Hara’s on tap, a stout and an IPA.

Altamar

This place is to be found on the square beside the church in Palamós and has arguably the very best views in town. It changed hands in early 2021 (it used to be the Casino), and with the change came an improvement in the choice of drinks. They have Founders IPA, Leffe Brune, and a Basque lager called La Salve on tap, as well as a couple of other bottled varieties. Although it is principally a restaurant, from mid-June until mid-September, it has the advantage of remaining open from noon throughout the afternoon for drinks when most other places are shut – so you can go and enjoy that lovely “view with a brew” any time of day (except Tuesdays).

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The draft beers available in Altamar on Plaça Murada in Palamós
The draft beers available in Altamar on Plaça Murada in Palamós

Los Secretos del Cubano

The bar scene in Palamós is certainly improving all the time, and this Cuban-run establishment only opened in early 2022. There are a number of Belgian beers, both bottled and on tap, and the owner, Armando, is very enthusiastic about them all. If he’s not too busy, he is more than happy to talk you through his unusual collection of oversized bottles of Belgian beer. The food here is very good too!

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The restaurant may be Cuban, but the selection of beers is mostly Belgian
Los Secretoes del Cubano it may be called, but the selection of beers is mostly Belgian

Tiracanyes

Tiracanyes only opened just in time for the summer season of 2022 and are still the newest kids on the block. They are located down by the Port of Palamós and serve Guinness Irish stout and IPA on tap as well as a number of bottled Belgian, German and American brands and the usual Spanish lagers. They also stock a very good selection of canned and bottled Catalan craft brews and Swedish cider.

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Tiracanyes in Palamós has an excellent beer selection.
Tiracanyes in Palamós has an excellent beer selection.
Tiracanyes sells a range of international beers and a good selection of Spanish craft beers.
Tiracanyes sells a range of international beers and a good selection of Spanish craft beers.

L’Escala

EO! L’Escala

This café-bar comes in two parts: the “normal” bar and right next door, the craft beer bar, which was opened in December 2020. They have 6 craft beers on tap that constantly rotate so you’ll never get bored, plus a few more in bottles. The bar is in a beautiful setting on Plaça de Sardana, right by the beach in the old part of L’Escala, so as a place to sit for a while and drink some quality micro-brewed beers, it’d be pretty hard to beat.

Update October 2022: During a visit to L’Escala for the Salt Festival, we popped into EO! thinking to enjoy a nice local craft beer or two – only to discover that the 6 craft beers on tap were not available. The taps were still there, but only bottled beer was available. As a manager wasn’t present at the time we were unable to find out if this was because of the end of the main tourist season and a return to a simpler beer menu for the winter, or if the craft beers are gone for good. We’ll let you know as soon as we get a chance to check for ourselves during the summer!

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EO! L’Escala now has a range of Catalan craft beers, and in a beautiful setting too.
EO! L’Escala has a range of Catalan craft beers, and in a beautiful setting too.

Cerveseria Frankfurt

About 100m up the street from the same Plaça de Sardana, we came across another pub that we discovered has a nice selection of both domestic and imported brews. As well as a few Spanish classic lagers, they also offer various other types from the Netherlands, Italy, Belgium, USA, Mexico, Germany and Ireland (including Guinness). The bar remains open through the winter months, and the owner, Carlos, is very friendly. There’s a terrace out the back of the pub, and they also serve decent pub grub, show live sports on TV, and even have live music from time to time.

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Beer
Cerveseria Frankfurt has a lovely tavern feel to it and offers a good selection of beer types.

L’Estartit

Old Ambient

If you enjoy sampling brews from around the world, then you’ll definitely enjoy this place! They have an extensive selection, especially from Belgium. It’s also well-named as it has plenty of ambiance and character – the kind of place you could spend hours in. It’s also a good place for watching sports, and they have a games room too with a pool table and dartboard. The staff are pretty multilingual too.

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Old Ambient has an especially good selection of Belgian beers, amongst many others.
Old Ambient has an especially good selection of Belgian brews, amongst many others.

Into the hinterland…

Heading in from the coast a little, we find a couple of absolute gems that are well worth the short trip:

Rupià

DosKiwis Brewing

Run by a New Zealand-Catalan couple, this great place brews its own stuff and has a very impressive variety of different styles just waiting to be sampled, including various pale ales and IPAs, a pilsner, an imperial milk stout, and a sour, with the focus on “modern, drinkable, flavourful beers”. And since DosKiwis brew no gluten-free or alcohol-free beer, they have instead a local artisanal cider, an all-natural gluten-free white wine, and kombucha, a type of fermented tea that has virtually no alcohol that they make themselves.

Seating is mostly outdoors in a lovely beer garden, and although there are quite a few tables, it is a good idea to reserve a table in advance – especially if you plan on ordering food – as this place is very popular. They also have live music gigs from time to time, with all the info regularly updated on their website.

location website our visit to DosKiwis

A hazy IPA - one of a range of beers brewed in Rupià by DosKiwis Brewing
A hazy IPA – one of many brewed in Rupià by DosKiwis Brewing
This one is a sour beer that they call Heartbreaker. It’s damn tasty!
This one is a sour that they call Heartbreaker. It’s damn tasty!

Jafre

El Birrot

In the middle of the quaint little village of Jafre, just up the road from DosKiwis and along similar lines (except for brewing their own), El Birrot has about half a dozen or so Catalan craft beers on tap, plus dozens more available in bottles and cans, some domestic and others from much farther afield. The staff seem to have endless patience, happily answering every and any question about the different brews and offering recommendations. These guys also do some really tasty food, and the setting is just beautiful. A very friendly place that you won’t want to leave.

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El Birrot in the village of Jafre are specialists in craft beers
El Birrot in the village of Jafre are specialists in craft brews from lots of countries

Colomers

La Llúdriga

Originally a kind of kiosk/xiringuito across the road on the rive, La Llúdriga moved to its current location a few years ago. It’s directly in front of the place where you can rent a kayak for a river excursion – easily recognizable by its red double-decker bus. La Llúdriga has a handful of craft brews on tap, which change from time to time, plus a number of canned and bottled options. Tom, the co-owner, knows his stuff too! There are also a couple of standard lagers for the less adventurous, but if you’re in Colomers for some river-kayaking in the first place, that’s probably not you! There is also a full food menu from around midday.

Next time we go, we’re going kayaking first on the River Ter, finishing across the road from La Llúdriga and going for a few well-earned pints and some grub, and then make our way back with pit stops at El Birrot in Jafre and DosKiwis in Rupià! Bags not being the designated driver though!

Beer
Beer

Proost! Sláinte! Salut! Santé! Salud! Prost! Skål! Cheers!

P.S: Between October and Easter be sure to check on opening days and times beforehand to avoid “bitter” disappointment! (See what we did there?!)

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