In Barcelona, new breweries are getting kind of thick on the ground, but one of the biggest and best equipped is Edge Brewing, which just happened to be on the same (very long) street as our hotel, so being well prepared we - well one of our friends - arranged a visit. Also attending were some sundry Swedes, a small number of Scots including a very young brewer from Stewart Brewing in Edinburgh and a lone Geordie.
The brewery itself is set in a very anonymous building in, the part in which the brewery is located at least, a very anonymous street. But once inside it is all somewhat different. It's industrial heritage is clear, but it has been put to sensible use with a warehouse and cold room at the front and behind, a tasting room and the brewery itself protected behind a glass wall. It is a veritable cathedral (well more a church) of stainless steel, which, at the time of our visit was being obsessively cleaned. They take great care of such things here. The brewery was immaculate and has rather a good back story, having been designed, built and shipped from the USA, together with its American owners. This is very much an American brewery, transposed to Catalonia.
Our tasting session consisted of around 20cl of six different beers (it is usually four) but in my usual feckless way, I neglected to write them down as I was enjoying talking about them to my friends and the tour guide. This is I admit a bad habit for a beer writer, but then again I was out to enjoy myself, so hey ho, sorry if my memories are a little hazy. First up was a hefe-weizen which had been "improved" in its refreshingness - is that a word? - by the addition of lime - which I personally found a little overdone, but I can see how, on a hot Barcelona day, you'd gulp one down. A saison was next but with little saison character to speak of, with an odd "Old English Spangles" taste (you need to be old to remember them). The main characteristics were mint, pear drop, aniseed and treacle. Not at all unpleasant, but I feel it needed more work to bring it into style. We all liked Hoptimista a lot better. Described as an American IPA, it ticked most of the boxes with pine resin, caramel and a good bitter finish. I could have drunk a pint of that one even at 6.6%.
We followed these up with an amber ale with oats, honey and oranges which was pretty good, American Rye Pale Ale and a Porter with vanilla. Well I think we did - not that I was drunk on 3 x 20cl - but because I didn't write it down. We also were given as a treat, an experimental beer which should stay just as that. Nobody liked it much at all. The brewery tour, which split the tasting into two, was interesting just to see how they worked. They even have one of these giant hop gun thingies that batter hops into the beer, though really you couldn't tell from the ones the ones we had. The brewery produces a large number of styles and looking though them,
there are many I'd rather have tried than the ones we did, but that's
just the luck of the draw. You get what you are given and certainly none
of the beers, the experimental one apart, were bad by any means, but
none really stood out either, though as always, it is the joy of talking to
beer people about beer that really gave me the most pleasure.
Of equal interest to me is that around 90% of Edge Brewery's production is sent overseas, mostly to Scandinavia and the USA. Yes American brewers in Spain sell a lot of their beer back to America where they mimic the styles produced there. That's an odd juxtaposition, but explained by the fact that the market for craft beer in Barcelona while growing, is tiny. It seems export is the only way to keep it all on the rails in the hope of a more widespread Spanish craft beer breakthrough and to repay the cost of the operation. Somewhat "coals to Newcastle" you might think and you'd be right.
At the end of the day this is a good brewery, with interesting beer, ambition, great kit and branding, produced by nice beery people. It was a good evening out.
It is also of note that Edge Brewing was named the top new brewer in the world, as well as top
brewer in Spain in 2014. Hoptimista, part of the Edge core line up, was also
voted a top 50 new beer in the world out of 60,000 beers. Edge also have barrel aged beer. Seems somewhat de rigeur these days.The top photo show the Hop Blaster.
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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