Barcelona Craft Beer

We were in Europe recenlty on a country hoop tour and I got the chance to test what Barcelona had to offer. We hit quite a few of the craft beer spots.

Here's where we went and what we thought:

  • Biercab (In Eixample): Great craft beer bar with a large tap list. I want to say 20-30 beers on tap. Lots of local/Spanish breweries. Try the cod balls and octopus!
  • Garage Brewing: Awesome brewpub with a lot of variation in styles. Some of the best beer we had in Spain Bonus for this. There's an awesome little bar in the Gothic quarter the serves Garage beer called Carlos and Matildas. I'd highly recommend sitting out on the Terrace, having a pint and enjoying the atmosphere.
  • BlackLab (Barcelona – near the Aquarium): Decent beers and ok food, close to the downtown area
  • Naparbier (Eixample): Cool bar/restaurant with a kind of biker theme… Some pretty high quality food and solid beers… Bit expensive for food
  • Barcelona Beer Company (Raval): Ok beer, ok food.
  • Chivuo's (Gracia): Cool little place off the beaten track a bit.. Stumbled upon it on our walk up to Parc Guell. They brew a few of their own beers and have others on tap. Good food as well.

We also hit Brewdog and Mikkeller.

Both of which are cool bars but not local breweries. Another place I'd mention is Caravelle in Raval. It's more of a little restaurant but they brew a few house beers themselves as well. Awesome food (tacos!) and vibe. Happy drinking and enjoy Barcelona!

I actually found a beer guide of Barcelona after we left. Which only makes me want to vist again sometime. This time though I would like to make it the primary vacation destination. Though I think that it will take a while. The kids are crying to go to Flordia. I am sure you can guess why.

For not I will just have to dream.

Here are my notes for next time:

  • Lambicus, best Belgian Bottle shop.
  • Roses i Torrades, Bottle shop.
  • 2D2Dspuma, Bottle shop.
  • BierCaB, best bar in Spain.
  • NaparBCN, best beerpub in Spain.

Always with limited collaborations between famous brewers.

Breweries and beers you must taste from Spain: La Calavera: "medical stout", "batard chardonnay" Montseny: any variants of "Mala Vida" Guineu: "Montserrat", "Black Velvet" and others Naparbier: "Back in Black", and any other. La Quince: "SweetDreams", "Horny Pilsner", and any other. Dougalls: "Session Stout", and others Laugar: "Aupa Tovarisch", and others. Reptilian: "Apokalypse", and others. Ales Agullons: There are blended with lambic Cantillon. Yria: any beer.

Serving Beer At Large Gathering

The first is to be fairly conservative with your choice of beer. The first time I ordered a keg, it was Anchor Steam and almost no one drank it.

The last time I ordered kegs for an event, it was two sixtels (1/6 barrel) instead of full kegs (1/2 bbl). One of them was hard cider and the other Sam Adams Oktoberfest, both which were very popular. We actually ran out too quickly, though because it was a low budget wedding, we couldn't really have bought much more.

Serving beer is more complicated than most people think. I went to one wedding on a very, very warm day (one of the bridesmaids passed out from the heat) where the caterers were pouring mostly foam and had no idea what to do about it.

My serving recommendation to you is to borrow/rent a jockey box from a homebrew store or distributor. These are coolers that have either coils or a plate chiller which takes room temp beer down to 34 degrees in seconds. You can leave the kegs under a table & run the hoses up the back. The front of the cooler you can decorate & frilly it up for the wedding.

I highly recommend using a jockey box & it shouldn't cost too much to rent.

Another great benefit of using a jockey box is that the beer is usually pushed with CO2. This is way better than the hand pumps that most frat parties use. The hand pumps put oxygen on the beer and it will go stale very fast. If you push the beer with CO2 it will stay fresh much longer (more or less indefinitely).

Jockey boxes only foam if there is no ice under the plate chiller or if there are bubbles in the line.

So if your wedding doesn't drink all of the beer you can finish it at a later date without throwing it all away.

If you have long beer lines and don't cool them, you get foam. If it's a hot day and you don't keep the kegs properly cooled, you get foam. If you shake the kegs too much in transit, you get foam. Experienced caterers should know what they need to do to get good pours.

Keep in mind that beer begins spoiling when it comes into contact with air.

That means if you use standard hand-pumped taps, you have at most a couple days to consume everything in the kegs. If you find a way to use CO2, not only will the beer still be good to drink for weeks afterward (if refrigerated properly), the pours will be faster and more consistent. If you can rent a "jockey box", you could theoretically hide the kegs and only have the faucets be visible. (I've never used one, but the idea is you're cooling the beer as it comes through the lines rather than the whole keg.)

The big caveat with not using standard hand-pumped taps is that foreign beers use different style keg couplers, so you would have to make sure to get the correct one if you were buying a Belgian, for example.

If you can't rent a jockey box from somewhere, check with local breweries or homebrew clubs. A lot of breweries and homebrewers have jockey boxes available for brew events and competitions, etc. They might be willing to let you borrow it for the weekend for free, or for a couple bucks. Just a thought. Also check craigslist, I see them on there from time to time.

A Healthy Lawn

I'd like to have a healthy consistent lawn. If you really want to fix your lawn up, you want consistent grass types, and few to little weeds. There's a lot of info I could give you but it depends on what you want for a lawn. What are your lawn goals? But it also comes down to how much time and money do you want to devote to your lawn.

Things you need to do first:

  • Try to identify your grass types. Take some samples and do some research here and here.
  • Try to identify your weed types. I don't know of an all-in-one weed identifier but you can check your local extension office for a list of probable weeds or just start google image searching and checking "lists of weeds" based on your area.
  • Invest in a hand-can; a gallon pump sprayer that you will use to apply weed killer(s) selectively. They run about $10-$50 depending on what you get. Home Depot or Lowes or Amazon.
  • If you don't have a bag for your mower, get one because you will need it occasionally if your grass gets too tall before you can cut it. You don't want tons of clippings laying around. A normal amount mulched up is fine.

Once you ID your weeds and grasses, you can start applying grass-safe weed (only) killer selectively (only where needed, not all over the lawn). 24-D is the most common broad spectrum weed killer ingredient found in most plain weed killers. Some tough weeds may need a different herbicide but you won't know till you ID them.

Bagging is best when you are cutting thick, overgrown grass since it will not mulch properly and lay on top of the lawn rather than getting mixed in.
This can introduce the perfect habitat for fungus or other disease issues. Yes, you will reduce weed seeds when bagging but that's not the real point.

Effective weed control is what reduces weeds and weed seeds in the first place.

Again, you should bag if you are cutting a lot of thick grass at once but also try not to go more than 1/3 of the blade. So if you were on vacation and missed a mowing, make two passes, lowering the height between and bag at least the first go round. The other time to bag is before you aerate / overseed. You don't need to add to the thatch layer (in fact you might want / need to de-thatch prior to aeration and overseeding).

What you should do:

  • Get a soil sample tested so you know your soil makeup. Or at least do some digging and determine if you have clay, loamy or sandy soil. My guess is clay unless you're near the coast.
  • Aerate your lawn if it appears compacted (rock hard).
  • Overseed your lawn based on what type of grass you already have. That is, if you are happy with that type. If you are looking to start fresh there's a different method / mentality involved.
  • Apply some milorganite (organic nitrogen fertilizer). Read the bag for application rates. Normally 15lbs per 1000 square feet. So about one 36lb bag for a little over 2000 sq feet. You can go a little heavy since it's an organic, it won't burn your lawn.
  • Irrigate by hand or with sprinklers and aim for 1" of water/rain per week. Deep infrequent > quick frequent waterings. A rain gauge helps with this.

That's enough to get you started. The basic idea is kill the weeds you don't want. Nurture the grass you do want so it takes over. Keep it healthy with fertilizer and mow regularly not taking more than 1/3 of the blade off at one time.

From The Brewery Direct

You cannot contact a brewery directly, unfortunately. The three tier system requires beer sales to go through a distributor for all large volume product sales, especially kegs.

It's why the WAB runs lines through the wall to The Loving Touch to sell beer, because otherwise they'd have to sell their own beer to themselves. If they wheeled the kegs next door, they could lose their license.

Also, your prices are going to be pretty standard no matter where you go.

Alcohol cannot be sold below cost, or else the retailer could lose their license. That means the lowest they can do is at cost, which they'd likely only do if you were a regular. Any discount anyone is giving you is going to cut into their bottom line, so there has to be a benefit for them.

Unfortunately, you will not be able to contact the brewery directly, you won't be allowed to deal with a distributor either. Your best bet is hoping a local shop will cut you a deal, which they probably won't.

That being said, you don't need a membership to buy alcohol from Costco or Sam's Club and those may be your best bet.

It’s a Craft Country

Unfortunatley, in America mediocrity and sameness is the norm.

Afterall, fast food is by faaaar the best selling food in our nation – and Walmart is the nations largest employer. Beer is no exception.

American corporate lagers is made with one thing in mind – drinkability. And what is more drinkable than cold water? They use corn and rice to produce a substantial amount of the alcohol in their beer because it does so without adding any taste. But that leaves the beer tasting grainy/grassy – to compensate for that, they encourage you to drink beer as close to freezing as possible.

Ever drink a commercial beer lukewarm?

Craft beer is made with one thing in mind – taste and a fierce devotion to quality. And because of that, it actually taste better as it warms a little. Usually around 48 degrees…which is good and cool, not ice cold.

There are hundreds of varities and choices in the craft beer world. Unlike the corporate yellow fizzy stuff – where you would do very well to tell any difference at all. So your choice is to stand in line and be told what you like by a savvy marketing firm – or choose for yourself and drink what you like.

My suggestion it to test, taste the various styles and expand your palate.

With such variety and selections now available to many beer drinkers, I am sure you will find you "beer zone". I know my taste have changed over the years. There is no one beer for every situation. Time of year, food pairing, and alcohol content help determine the proper beer for the right situation. Also remember just because you do not like the beer, does not mean that it is bad beer.

Try and appreciate what the brew was trying to do.

Lawn Care Products

It almost always comes down to costs. Application equipment (proper, not a cheap-o spreader) and Herbicides is where the consumer loses. And it is why a lot of yards suffer.

A Lesco spreader costs about $450. Not a $40-50 one, that you buy every year. One that will last, as long as you maintain it.

Chemicals. Cost of it sucks for one lawn. But it can last forever. Look at Certainty. Awesome product. Two or three little scoops and you are set. The minus is that it is $93, and you have about a whole container left.

Next is 2,4-D. Awesome product. But use too much and your yard is toast. And there are so many variants of potency, it can really mess with your head.

That's not even touching pre-emergants.

But back to your question…

If I were to DIY or pay? I'd research it, but pay for somebody to it if I wasn't willing to put the money into the yard, a serivice, while not cheap will be cheaper than the upfront costs of DIY.

Why? Time and money. Sure, it might take a guy 15-30 minutes to treat your yard. But how long will it take you to get the chemicals, fert, equipment, and maintenance for it all? Not worth my time.

You can use the Scott's program if you want, I was under the impression that you were not satisfied with Scott's.

What I am saying is that there are two things that need to happen for your lawn: fertilize it and kill the weeds. Scott's and Menards are trying to sell you a granular product that will "control your weeds". The problem is that granular products have a very low success rate at killing weeds. Granular products are great as fertilizer though. To kill your weeds you want to use a liquid product like Preen or 2-4D.

The reason I say skip Step 2 on the Menard's program is that if you use too much weed control it can be harmful to the lawn. Menard's Step 3 does not appear to have any agents that try to kill weeds, the website claimed that it was only fertilizer.

If you are only laying down a fertilizer, you still need to do something for the weeds, which should be done in liquid form.

So to recap: The easiest way to take control of your lawn is to fertilize it 4-5 times per year with a granular based product like Scott's, Menard's, or from a nursery like Steins. For 3 of those events you fertilize it, you should go around and spray any weeds you see with something like 2-4D.

You can technically spray weeds whenever you see them. But it is easiest to remember to spray the weeds whenever you are fertilizing.

If it's just in the landscape beds, use RoundUp which you can get at Walmart or any lawn and garden store.

Be very careful about overspray or drifting so that you don't spray any of those roses or the grass on accident. RoundUp will kill anything it touches.

A more permanent solution would be to cover up the dirt with thick mulch. 2-3" deep would do the trick to keep those weeds out. Bare open soil is a goldmine for weeds. Anywhere that there is exposed soil with no grass filled in or some kind of material covering it (weed mats, mulch, river rock, etc) you will have weeds. You can spray RoundUp on those weeds all year long, but new ones will always grow back unless you cover up the soil. Weeds need soil to germinate.

Cover the soil, no germination.

Renting An Aerator vs The Hiring Pros

The aerator that the HD near me had was a bitch to operate and easily consumed more than 4 hours to finish. It's hard to do. Very. I've since learned there are much better aerators out there, which are not up for rent that I have seen. A landscaping company recently quoted me $125 to aerate my whole lawn.

One nextdoor neighbor has professional landscapers cutting their grass every Monday, so I figure they're out. And they take care of it for him. I am a bit of a DIY sort of person.

But there is so much that goes into the whole process, like getting your soil ready for aeration and over-seeding.

This needs to done.

No use in running it over hard ground.

Get all the leaves up off the property. Have the soil soft enough for the cores or spikes to penetrate. Basically water it to where you can stick a knife into it. But not soaking wet.

And don't forget to water the seed in. 3/4 of the people forget that step.

A bad person/company will not tell you anything, and do it on rock hard turf in the middle of the summer. Little and big companies do this, but not all.

Oh, and moss growing there already? Seed isn't going to grow there.

Not sure on the price of the service will be, but what's a couple of phone calls. Also call your local mega-lawn care companies like Scotts and TruGreen (not vouching for any particular companies work ethic).

Sometimes I really hate DIY because of the clean-up aspect. Sure you may have saved some money, but how much time did it save you? Not saying not to do it though.

A Wide Range

Not everyone likes craft. If you want all of your beer drinking guests to be happy you should at least have one light beer on tap. Unless for some reason every person you invited to your wedding is a craft beer enthusiast, you're probably going to have some disappointed guests and people grumbling to themselves about it.

Still, just because someone buys and drinks light lager doesn't mean they will turn their noses up at a craft brewed pils or lager. Honestly, though if anyone did grumble about that I'd probably consider them rude, it's not their wedding celebration and it doesn't have to cater to their taste for something they can buy at pretty much any convenience store.

Most people who just drink light beer aren't interested in venturing further into other types of beer.

It is no way rooted in fact, and my own anecdotal experience points to most craft beer drinkers starting off in the same boat, buying 30 racks of light beer because it's cheap and familiar. I'd branched out to "premium" brands and been dissapointed at the price/quality ratio compared to Bud.

When I talk to people who drink Bud Light every day, it's more of a "business" decision, rather than any other preference.

The key to a good wedding is variety and the realization that not everything the guest will be drinking will be something you enjoy.

Have a good bar with a variety of spirits, as well as a variety of white and red wines. As for beer itself – the OP talked about Sierra Nevada, and they honestly run the gauntlet in the types of beers they make from delicious stouts to Oktoberfest styles and yea, they do hoppy. But they also do stuff like witbier and Blondes.

So give people options, at least two. Have several craf beers on hand and then a light option.

My reasoning is that personally, most of the people attending a wedding that don't drink craft beer are older male relatives that also would never be caught dead with a light beer.

But you also want to have a lower-calorie option for sessioning. Which brings up a good point- instead of Bud Light, why not do a "session beer" like SN Nooner, Notch Session Pils, or Full Sail Session Lager.

This is just what would work best for my group, but you know your guests the best. What I plan on doing is going down the entire guest list and asking myself "Will there be something this person will be satisfied drinking?" It doesn't have to be their favorite drink, but the last thing I want is someone sober and salty that there's nothing for them to drink.

For the Enjoyment

Craft beer is great to enjoy, but like others have said, its still alcohol and should be treated as such. If you have to put on the brakes, put on the brakes; no hobby or interest is worth your health.

Here's something to keep in mind: drinking and dependency and all that jazz, it's not an on/off thing. What you are telling yourself right now may be exactly correct and true, and there really isn't anything to give pause about. Ten years from now, telling yourself that same thing may have evolved into rationalization.

It's a process. It doesn't happen overnight.

The trick is to just be as self-aware as possible, listen if someone you trust expresses a concern — defensiveness is your enemy — and try to balance your enjoyment of this awesome hobby/lifestyle with good health.

Denial is bad.

Self-awareness is good.

Keep yourself in that frame of mind and you can cut off potential problems before they become problems.

I try not to ever let the kids see me drunk, though.

Me getting drunk happens rarely (even less now) and it should stay like that.

My love for craft beer has been on my mind a lot lately for similar reasons you do. I'm noticing how much I spend on beer which can be up to $20-$30 a week or bi-weekly.

It isn't unheard of that I can go way over too (~$50).

I tend to try out different beers with every purchase of cheap beer or my go to beer. I also have a goal of losing weight. These two things do not jive with each other.

Additionally, while I can financially support it, it isn't a wise choice either. The amount of money I've spent on beer could've easily been spent on better things.

So the craft beer in my life is costing me money that could be used better and it's not helping with my goal of weight lost.

So It would seem straight forward for me to axe my beer consumption but then I think how much of the same problems can apply to my love of coffee and cooking.

Beer Ratings

The lack of standards, and the role personal taste plays. By rating a beer I am logging (mostly for personal usage) how much I enjoyed a beer. Therefore I do not have to know about the style, be unbiased by personal views and preferences, or be "qualified" to rate and I find it slightly ridiculous to suggest as such.

There may be no flaws to describe, but personal taste. This isn't a contest where each beer is judged against a standard, this is one person's personal impression of that beer.

Of course personal taste is a factor, however it is much more useful on styles you know.

For instance I would be able to taste how a certain malt or certain hop comes through in an IPA and would be able to give useful criticism on certain aspects. I think it's good to balance personal taste and objective observations. While there is no objective standard to be judging beers on, I don't think it's bad to consider how much a beer aligns or deviates with "traditional" tendencies of its' style. Often times the beers that deviate from the tradition of their style can be my favorites!

However I do think that if someone is going to give a bad rating they should at least attempt to explain why. I don't think concrete knowledge is as important as gathering experience and familiarity with various styles. There shouldn't be an exclusive right to rate beers, and I hope I'm not appearing to suggest that. I just think these brewers deserve a bit of our effort if we choose to rate.

The thing is, many of these assume that people rate and post tasting notes for others to see. That is in many instances not the case. They don't do it because they want to improve the beer or give a genuine feedback, they're just stating whether they enjoyed it or not.

If you want feedback, you shouldn't be looking at Untappd. Maybe Ratebeer is a better option as its users are on average more beerwise, but in the end it's not a safe bet.

The problem here isn't people rating beers, it's trying to make sense of the randomness people attribute to beer(s).

I feel like this is also applies to real life encounters as well.

I enjoy dark beer. The more stout the better however I don't like any IPA's I have ever tried, I just don't like "hoppy" beer. So anytime I ask friend of family what's a beer I should try, no matter who I ask it's always an IPA, or a terrible domestic beer.

I think it all stems from people not accepting the different flavor of beer, I will still try an IPA just to try it. Who knows maybe someday I'll like one, but I don't stick to a type and I feel like that's what most people do. They find a type or kind of beer they like then expect all other beer to taste that way and when it isn't they thinks it's awful, instead of actually tasting and considering what the brew master intended it to taste like.

That's exactly why I like you guys, it's not all this sucks, that sucks, it's genuine interest in the intention behind the beer.