Beer in Spain: What to Expect in a Spanish Bar
Most bars in Spain will only have one beer on tap (though some will have a standard lager and a non-alcoholic version, while a few others will have a pale larger and a dark one). Beer on the whole is sold in very small glasses in Spain. But it isn't all bad news - the Spanish like their beer very cold, you might even be served a glass that has been kept in a freezer!
Spanish beer has a bad reputation - a reputation that is only partly justified. Spain has two very bad beers. Unfortunately, about 90% of bars in Spain seem to sell these beers. Read on for information on which beers to go for and which to avoid.
See also: Craft Beer Bar in Barcelona
Top Five Beers in SpainRead my personal five favorite beers in Spain: Best Beer in Spain.
Dark Beer in SpainMore and more dark beers are popping up in Spain, especially in the north. If you aren't keen on pale lager and prefer darker beer, try Amstel Oro, Mahou Negra, Alhambra Negra, Bock Damm and the aforementioned Voll Damm and San Miguel Nostrum.
Two Beers in Spain to Avoid
These are the culprits behind Spain's terrible beer reputation.
- Standard San Miguel (not the Nostrum version above) is gassy and unpleasant - it is marketed around the world as a premium 'continental' lager but it is simply Mahou's 'other' brand.
- Cruzcampo is gassier and more unpleasant than San Miguel.
Bad beer is quite a good sign of a bad restaurant. Read more: How to Spot Good Restaurants in Spain.
Foreign Beer in SpainThe best place to get foreign beer in Spain is in an Irish pub, which will always sell Guinness and will often sell a variety of other beers. Belgian beer is popular in some Irish pubs, as well as in a few international bars. You will find Heineken widely available, while Carlsberg and Kronenberg are quite common in the Basque Country.
Ordering Beer in a Bar in SpainBeer in Spanish bars isn't sold by quantity but by the type of glass. Read about the most common sizes of beer in Spain: Ordering Beer in Spain.
Microbreweries in SpainThere are a few bars that make their own beer in Spain, though not many. They will say 'fabrica de cerveza' outside (literally 'beer factory').
There are two microbreweries in Madrid - Naturbier in Plaza Santa Ana and Magister just around the corner on Calle Principe. I prefer the latter (not only because you get free tapas!).
For a very funny alternative to this page, check out Spanish-Country-Villa.com