The harbour in Barcelona isn't perhaps the most attractive in the world, but the adjacent promenade and beach if nothing else, shows to good effect the hardiness of the natives. I felt quite chilly as we strolled along, but the beach was rather busy with Catalan sunbathers. Good for them. Near the end of this walk is the harbour with many shiny yachts and just around the corner, down a very anonymous side street is perhaps one of the finest of Barcelona's many - and I mean very many - tapas bars, El Vaso De Oro.
Our first attempt to enter was thwarted by the simple fact that it was so full that we couldn't get in. It was late lunch and the place was so rammed that all we could see was an array of backs accompanied by the very jolly buzz of people having a great time. Disappointing, but it bode well for later. We weren't going to give up that easily. A quick wander round the back streets later and one large glass of Estrella better off, we returned. It was busy but we found four seats at the bar. Game on.
This is a very narrow bar served by two doors, one at the end and one in the middle. The space between the wall and the bar is just wide enough for a row of high backed chairs and enough room for a skinny type to manoeuvre the resulting two feet or so. It can be done as we observed, but only with goodwill and a lot of wriggling from both sides. I wouldn't like to give it a go myself mind. At each end the bar widens out enough to allow a few tables, but the bar is the prized spot. The waiters are known for their hard work and good humour and their rather ragged singing and whistling, but they are certainly a cheery lot and the atmosphere as they josh with locals and visitors alike is wonderful. It was a sheer pleasure just to sit there and take it all in. At the bar there is the usual array of Spanish tapas and there is a wider menu available too with the steak and foie gras, a much sought after delicacy, both for its succulence and reasonable prices.
Apparently they used to brew their own beer here, but now the beer comes from Cerveza Fort and as far as I could tell, was all that was offered. The waiter happily described the beers to us and we ordered small glasses of porter for me and American Pale Ale for our friends. E had the pilsner which she didn't like much, but actually on reflection, it may have been the Summer Ale. The American Pale was very highly thought of, but it was me that hit pay dirt. The porter was a revelation. It was jet black, toasty and roasty with a gorgeous mouthfeel from the oats. This was a seriously good beer. My next order was for a bigger glass and a portion of Spanish Black pudding which was a perfect match. A couple more rounds ensued as we watched the waiters run up and down and people come and go, shouting banter, calling to the kitchen, serving up plates of tapas and generally enjoying their work.
It was certainly the best establishment that I had a drink in during my trip and I had to be dragged out. If in Barcelona, go there.
The reason I allowed myself to be dragged out was our appointment at Edge Brewing later that day - See previous post.
A bit of a CV. Tandleman is a veteran beer lover, local CAMRA Chairman and activist, beer writer, beer reviewer and pursuer of all things good in beer. He lives in the North West of England and London. Despite his CAMRA membership, he does not limit himself to cask conditioned beer, though he believes that cask conditioning, when done correctly and appropriately, brings a quality to beer that is hard to equal by any other kind of presentation. He is a strong supporter of Northern methods of beer dispense and avidly detests poorly presented beer and dislikes pasteurisation. He regularly visits Germany, has conducted corporate British and German beer tastings for CAMRA at the Great British Beer Festival where he has worked for years on Biere Sans Frontieres and was Deputy Organiser at CAMRA's very successful National Winter Ales Festival in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 and at the Manchester Beer and Cider Festival from 2013 to date. He admires good brewers wherever they are and has travelled extensively in pursuit of good beer to drink.
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