26 may. 2014

Having a beer in Barcelona: Salut!

Summer is approaching and temperatures are sky-rising. “Terrazas” are crowded with people. Many of them are there for just one thing: have a cold beer!
Estrella: the best selling brand in Barcelona

But having a beer in Barcelona (and, by extension, in Spain) has some little tricks and its own language.

First thing you must decide: Do you want a “cerveza” (beer) “de botella” (bottled) or “de barril” (vom Fass or draft beer)?

If you choose “de botella”, in a bar there are two main sizes: “mediana” (it is the most common size and is 33 cl.) or “quinto” (AKA “botellín”, it is smaller than mediana, 25 cl.). Some places may also have cans of beer but that is not common in bars or restaurants. Cans are more often sold on the street or on the beach by “lateros”. The choice there is only how much do you want to bargain over the price so there is little to talk about.

Next thing with “cerveza de botella” is to choose a brand. Best-selling brand in Barcelona is Estrella (a brand of manufacturer Damm). Similar beers are San Miguel or Mahou (which is far more common in Madrid). If you prefer foreign beers, most bars will have Heineken. Some may also have Mexican “Coronita” or “Sol”. Other brands may be more difficult to find in “common corner-bars”.

There is also a local beer called Moritz, which is quite good. And “cervezas artesanas” (made by small producers) are becoming more fashionable, Cervessa Montseny, for instance, is a very good one.

If you choose “cerveza de barril”, the main thing to think about is size, as there is a limited choice of brands in most bars (very often as limited as just one type of beer).

Smaller possible size is popular “caña” which is about 25 cl. Then, you may have “copa” in some bars (it’s bigger than “caña”) or “jarra”. “Copas” and “jarras” may also vary wildly in size depending on the bar. Most common size is half litre “jarras” (ask them by saying “una jarra de medio”) but in some places there are smaller jarras.

Other bars, specially the tourist traps in Las Ramblas, will directly serve one litre “jarras” as if it was the common size of beer in Spain. It is not. And if you don’t want to have as much beer, feel very comfortable to ask the waiter for a smaller size or complain.

If feel like drinking a less alcoholic mixture, you may try “una clara” (beer and lemon soft drink).


And finally, you may hear someone call “birra” to “cerveza”. If they are not Italian, remember “birra” is slang for “cerveza”.  

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