Barcelona Beer Festival 2013

The artisanal beer fest is back, bigger than before and out to convert nonbelievers to the cause
By Ricard Martín
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If gastronomic events were movie premieres, 2012's Barcelona Beer Festival (BBF) would have been dubbed a real sleeper. A modest gathering of artisan beers in the Convent de Sant Agustí drew an audience of about 10,000. Many were left outside, licking imaginary foam off their parched lips. The sequel is about to make its 2013 debut with all the promise of a bigger, better and faster blockbuster. Where to be: La Cúpula de Las Arenas (the old bullring that's now home to a big shopping mall). When to be there: 8-10 March. Who will be there: About 25,000 other beer fans.

An artisan festival
According to Miquel Rius, one of the BBF organisers, 'We provide dedicated professionalism', and he adds that they are especially proud to serve up a quality gourmet product. 'It's not about drinking litres, but about becoming familiar with a high-quality product.'

The facts: 300 different types of craft beer will be served in rotation from the bar's 50 taps. It will be an all-star affair, with 70 of the 300 from foreign brewers, and the rest, Catalan and Spanish, many of them being tasted for the first time in the country. 'The festival will be akin to a living thing,' predicts Rius. 'Beers that are served on Friday will be changed each day following."

And don't miss out thinking your budget won't bear it: most brands will run between just €2 and €3. The same goes for the tapas supplied by the restaurant La Lola (Spanish omelette, potato salad, mini jacket potatoes); the dishes brought to you by La Viandateca (a type of veal stew with chickpeas called capipota, meatballs with curry); pasties from Moncho's; sweet or savoury crepes from La Creperie; and an assortment of Asturian cheeses. And purists, don't panic: 'The beers will be served at three different temperatures', Rius assures, with careful attention paid to the ideal service for each beer, and pulled by staff who are well trained in pouring a glass on tap.

Most important, we're told, is the micro-universe of bonhomie and knowledge sharing the festival creates. "What's great about craft beer is that it's so easy to meet the crafters. And when you do, you know exactly what you're drinking," Rius says.

Friday activities:

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3.30pm: La birra Italiana (Italian beer: a talk with Giovanni Campari)

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5.30pm: Cervesa entre lletras (Beer in print)

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Daily: Introcata – introduction to beer tasting

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Daily: Freakata – tastings of rare and extreme beers (not for beginners)

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Daily: BeerCheese – beer and cheese pairings

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Daily: Cata en LSC – guided tasting in Catalan sign language

Saturday activities:

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11am: Presentation Guia de Cerveses de Catalunya 2013 (Guided presentation of Catalan beers 2013)

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12.30pm: Brewdog – a talk about this Scottish brewery

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2.15pm: Trobada blogger – beer bloggers meeting

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3.30pm: Escandinàvia i la cervesa (Scandinavia and beer)

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5.30pm: Taula rodona i degustació amb Turisme de Flanders (Roundtable and tasting with Flanders Tourism)

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7.30pm: Impacte econòmic i social de la cervesa artesana (Economic and social impact of artisanal beer)

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Daily: Introcata – introduction to beer tasting

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Daily: Freakata – tastings of rare and extreme beers (not for beginners)

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Daily: BeerCheese – beer and cheese pairings

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Daily: Cata en LSC – guided tasting in Catalan sign language

Sunday activities:

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11am: Cervesa i cuina (Beer and cuisine) – presentation of the book 'Noves Sensacions Gastronòmiques'

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1pm: Magic Rock – presentation of this new British brewery

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3pm: Cervesa a la Carta – workshop for restaurant, bar and catering professionals

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5pm: Taula Rodona (Roundtable) – discussion of current topics regarding beer and the local industry

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Daily: Introcata – introduction to beer tasting

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Daily: Freakata – tastings of rare and extreme beers (not for beginners)

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Daily: BeerCheese – beer and cheese pairings

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Daily: Cata en LSC – guided tasting in Catalan sign language

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