A collaboration between Spanish brewers Naparbier and Michelin-starred chef Miquel Aldana, this thoroughbred gastro-brewpub is a must for gourmets and beer freaks in Barcelona.
Nuzzled away deep in the heart of Beerxample – the Eixample barrio’s new nickname due to its cluster of world-class craft beer bars – I was instantly dazzled by the scale and style of this stunning brewpub.
The interior was designed by local hero Lázaro Rosa-Violán, who was also responsible for decor of the stunning El Nacional gastro emporium, as well as iconoclast chef David Muñoz’s DiverXO and StreetXO restaurants.
There’s definitely a strong sense of rock & roll irreverence here, it is a craft beer brewery after all, but it all feels very refined and… grown up. Make no mistake, these guys are serious.
Illuminated cabinets full of Naparbier bottles welcome you in through the door, with hunks of rusted metal and a skull-crowned motorcycle hanging precariously from exposed brick walls. Out back the brewery sparkles like a mad scientists’ laboratory, achieving an industrial vibe that contrasts nicely against the dark wood and tanned leather furniture.
There are 24 taps, but they split them 50/50 – 12 with Napar beers and 12 with cherry picked beers from other notable brewers. There was plenty on offer from Magic Rock and Blacklab on my visit.
With everything from citrusy IPAs and quaffable session ales to dark stouts, saisons and innovative brews – beers aged in red wine barrels, for example – you’re pretty much guaranteed to find your favourite types of beers, as well as plenty of new favourites.
My personal highlights were the “Spring Breaker”, a clean and crisp American pale ale, the “Insider IPA”, which was a darker and more medium-bodied IPA, and the “Sioux”, a dark and fruity red IPA.
With Napar’s heritage, it’s no surprise that the onsite brewery is such a beast. Seven tanks hang from the ceiling like bombs from the wings of a jet fighter and multiple TV screens show what’s running through the venue’s veins.
I was lucky enough to meet Beinat Gutierrez, one of the brewers, who sipped on one of his latest creations as we chatted. “I’m the Basque guy here looking after the Catalans,” he joked. Beinat studied at the Städtische Berufsschule für Braugewerbe (brewing school) in Germany, before honing his skills as Naparbier and now runs the NaparBCN brewery.
Beinat exemplifies Napar’s commitment to the art of brewing. “I’m always here!” he told me when I said I’d catch him next time. Brewing is not just a job for him, it’s a way of life, a devotion. This can also be seen in the camaraderie between the staff and the collaboration projects that they regularly work on with other brewers in the eternal quest for the perfect beer.
Though you’re welcome to pop in just to taste beers, I’d thoroughly recommend revelling in the creative tapas and “mar y montaña” menu. Created by Michelin-starred chef Miquel Aldana – an Adrià disciple and elBulli alumni – each dish offers classic Catalan flavours elevated with modern twists and elegant presentation. Be sure to ask the staff for their food and beer pairing recommendations, which really was the cherry on the cake for me!
This is not your average brewpub, and this is not your average “beer ‘n’ a burger” dining experience.
I ordered foie and apple to start, followed by a beautiful take on the Spanish classic “huevos estrellados” (scrambled eggs with quality jamón) and a stunning rendition of grilled octopus with creamy mashed potato. Oh, and the desserts… I would have been happy enough to finish my meal with the fruity red IPA, but I’m glad I tried the “buñuelos”, which are little doughy balls with aniseed, praline, white chocolate and a sort of pineapple ice-slushy sauce.
If you can’t decide what to order, consider the week-day set menu (Tuesday to Friday), which is priced at just €15.95.
In a Nutshell
Whether you’re a discerning beer lover on the hunt for serious new brews or you’re a fully-fledged gourmet looking for a fresh and exciting dining experience, you’d be hard pushed to find a better venue than this in Barcelona. The quality of the beer is undeniable and it really does work amazingly well with the fine dining concept. And, importantly, the space itself is dynamic enough to host everything from a quick beer and some nibbles to a romantic meals for two or a bigger group celebration.
I’m not sure where else you can eat and drink such high quality beer in the same place.
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