Date visited: March 2017
A chance to visit Madrid for Beer Voyage arose when we invited ourselves along to a friend's weekend trip to the Spanish capital. The plan was to go see Atletico Madrid play at the Vicente Calderon Stadium before it's knocked down at the end of the season so we jumped at the chance to tag along. What was originally a football based getaway, soon descended into a very beery one.
Despite the weather being a bit overcast and All Of The Dog Shit Everywhere (the moronic author of this post managed to step in canine excrement. Twice. In two different pairs of trainers), we managed to have an excellent weekend exploring some of the historic sights, watching football and sipping fine beers from several drinking establishments. We stayed in the Lavapiés neighbourhood, a bohemian area with a wide range of people, bars and restaurants. It was fun to stay in a less touristy location as it felt like we got a more authentic experience and better feel for the city but were also close enough to the central area and the famous monuments and buildings. One of the highlights was undoubtedly visiting the Vicente Calderon to watch Atletico Madrid play Valencia (despite feeling a little worse for wear after the previous booze-fuelled evening). The atmosphere was excellent with the home fans in fine voice as Atleti won the game 3-0. We were all really impressed with the stadium and a little sad that it was being demolished - the steepness of the seating really made the stadium feel much smaller than its 55,000-ish capacity and it'll be interesting to see if they can replicate this in a new stadium 10 miles away out of the centre of Madrid.
Onto the important part - what were the bars and beer like? Madrid is definitely a great city to visit if you like beer (and bar snacks). One of our favourite things about Madrid was that many of the places we visited still upheld the tradition of providing tapas every time you order alcohol. More often than not this was simply crisps, nuts or corn nuts but on a few occasions we had cooked tapas. For free!
There are several relatively new bars and breweries worth checking out in the Spanish capital. Below is a list of the ones we enjoyed the most. In no particular order:
El Pedal was a stones throw from the apartment we had for the weekend and wonderful. A tiny bar that boasted roughly 8 beers on tap and a fridge packed with some excellent bottles meant that we visited this place on more than one occasion. We returned here for a nightcap and the super accommodating barman not only served us long into the night but also gave us some of his homemade coffee liquor which I think was nice.
It was also here that we had probably the beer of the weekend in Edge Brewing's Padrino Porter (Chocolate & Vanilla). An incredible beer that tasted like chocolate milk and went down perfectly alongside some slow cooked pork tapas served in a garlicky tomato sauce. Muy bien!
Another bar not far from our apartment. This fantastically decorated bar had colour everywhere. Floor to ceiling in vibrant colours and cartoony artwork meant this place stuck in the memory.
With an ever rotating list of 18 beers on tap and plenty of space for us to hang out in, we really enjoyed Chinaski Lavapies and sank several beverages in here. Against the Grain & Mikkeller's Bloody Show was the highlight here - a crisp blood orange pilsner. Fresco!
The first taproom we made it to on the trip. Fabrica Maravillas was a cosy little place with one of the friendliest bar women we'd encountered. She kept us topped up with All Of The Snacks as well as humouring some of the groups attempts at trying to order a round in Spanish. The wooden benches and tanks on display behind glass doors made the place feel familiar and polished compared to some of the other rough-around-the-edges places we had visited and made for a fun comparison. We worked our way through FM's DIPA, bitter, stout and pale ale with the latter being the stand out. The Malasaña Pale Ale was light and fruity with bags of mango and guava coming through. Refrescante!
Madriz Hop Republic
From one taproom to another, we ventured up to Madriz Hop Republic for a flight of tasters in their spacious and well decorated bar. After a bit of miscommunication when trying to order a flight of beers with someone that spoke no English, we settled in at the back of the bar for a brief rest and although we didn't stay here long, we worked our way through a helles lager, a pale ale and a porter. To be completely honest, I don't really remember any of these beers standing out but they were nice enough.
This is also the first brewery I've seen to use a cat in their logo as opposed to a dog. Gato!
In hindsight, it probably wasn't the most sensible idea to visit a bar with the biggest selection of beers towards the end of a day of drinking but we've never been very sensible people. Taproom Madrid was absolutely wonderful - offering a colossal FORTY PLUS beers on tap, we were clearly in our element. Recently opened, this place appeared to be extremely popular and it's easy to see why - did I mention there were 40+ beers on offer? Not only that, the bar staff seemed extremely eager to suggest a variety of beers and offer tasters before you made your choice. We tried to stick to Spanish breweries as the tap list helpfully had country flags besides most of the options when ordering, (when in Rome Madrid and all that) but my favourite beer here was probably from Polish brewery, Trzech Kumpli. Misty was a New England/Vermont style IPA with plenty of juice and plenty of murk.
It was around this time of the night we got hungry and as if a sign from above, we were told we could buy a burrito from the place next door (Tierra Burrito) and eat it in the taproom (the same people own both establishments). Result! Half of the group ventured next door whilst the rest of us held down the fort (read: table). My burrito came doused in the hottest sauce available, something I was completely unaware of until the first bite and then became acutely aware of for the next 30 minutes as I tried to contend with my face, mouth and throat all burning with the heat of a thousand suns. Picante!
Madrid turned out to be an excellent place for a weekend jaunt with plenty to offer anyone thinking of going, not just beer twats like us. Adiós!