Ratings Key (0-10)
A: Choice and/or quality of drinks
B: Style and décor
C: Atmosphere and feel
D: Amenities, Events & Community
E: Value for money
F: The Pub Going Factor
Bars marked (*) will take you to our full profile write-up!
|El Bosc De Les Fades *||Barcelona||7||9||8||8||6||8|
|Bar Pastis *||Barcelona||6||10||9||7||7||9|
|La Fontana De Oro||Madrid||7||9||7||8||6||8|
|Taberna De Antonio Sanchez||Madrid||6||9||8||7||4||8|
|De La Ardosa||Madrid||6||9||8||7||6||8|
|Pub Momo||Santiago de Compostela||7||8||8||8||7||8|
|Modus Vivendi||Santiago de Compostela||6||9||8||7||7||8|
|Avante||Santiago de Compostela||5||8||8||7||7||8|
Over the last few years Spain has become a gradually more interesting and enjoyable place to go for a beery night out. In the past such an activity inevitably involved locating a bodega or a tapas bar, both of which usually only sold one beer on tap, and a few uninteresting bottles.
The Northern and Central European idea of solid beer drinking, without any obligation to consume food, almost didn’t exist outside of the odd hole-in-the-wall sports bar and the usual Irish themed pubs.
Spain has become switched onto craft beer, as similar to Poland, the local offerings were so muted that the sheer exposure to the many other styles available was like someone pulling back a curtain they hadn’t even recognised was there.
Now there are decent places to go for an ale in the major cities, the appeal of tapas bars is limited even further, as they routinely don’t follow the décor of what makes a good pub, and there is too much going on to make beer any more than a sideshow. The only way around this is to do dedicated tapas/beer pubs, which as a concept doesn’t appear to exist currently, but I could see working well.
Bodegas on the other hand are a slightly different proposition. These can be the most atmospheric places, the traditional, aged, candlelit venues with the local pub atmosphere you crave when you visit a new place. They are a bit one paced, to be sure, but I have been to a few that can drum up a lively chatty atmosphere. Some of these tend to do decent bottles of imported German lager and Spain’s only real original hand in the beer scene – double malted pilsners. Most of the major Spanish lagers do a turn in premium double pilsners, most of which are a darn sight tastier and not rough like many of the Italians. If you’re stuck in an unexciting venue that only seems to serve Estrella Damm or San Miguel, get the drinks card and scan for a premium beer.
In the major cities you will find some kooky, off-beat alternative bars that match up well to the European bar scene. Barcelona is a typically good example of the range of options you’d almost demand as a prerequisite for visiting these days. Fortunately it does live up to the hype.
Service is nearly always pretty pleasant – as good as an at times better than English service, while the price of drinks in Spain varies enormously depending where you are. I hear a drink and a tapa in Granada can be found for a Euro, whereas a craft ale alone in Barcelona can tip 5 euros, though you won’t find too many above that price. In touristic places there is a harder job for bars to price their drinks to appeal to locals out of season and rinse tourists for all they’re worth in season.
It almost goes without saying that rural Spain is far more about wine, and even then, in the baking hot summers you’ll be wanting to use some of that light tasting Estrella even if it’s just holding the glass to your forehead.
P.S -Clearly there are lots of holiday resorts in Spain which have become near-enclaves for English/German/Russian people. If you find yourself there, then they will usually have the tackiest impressions of their own sorts of bars and pubs. It’s arguable whether any of that is really ‘Spain’, particularly as no-one serving there is Spanish or speaking Spanish. I will accept submissions in the cases of really good pubs and bars on these resorts.