Beer Cities: Madrid

Madrid city guide


Land-locked Madrid can get hot in the summer. Luckily the city has an incredible beer scene to duck into and cool off in. Once I sat at a taxi driver café outside Madrid Atocha station, eating egg and chips (huevos rotos con patates — delicious) and drinking Mahou in 36 degree heat, being sprayed intermittently by water from an extremely DIY mist-cooling system. Would I have gone there if I wasn’t meeting a friend? No. Was it a standout experience? Yes. So my first recommendation is an unofficial one: go to a busy, unfashionable café, order a caña, watch the endless waves of traffic rush by and overhear gossip that brings the unfamiliar city closer to you.

You’d be missing out, however, if you only sought out the tourist-free places. Like visiting London and only going to greasy spoons for the sake of gritty reality, you’d miss the point. Millions of people travel to Madrid every year to see Goya in the Prado, to selfie outside the Plaza Mayor, to shop on the Gran Vía. Embrace it. You’re a tourist.

But you also need to immerse yourself in Madrid’s beer scene to get the whole city experience. Craft beer in Madrid is fiercely individual, taking the global trend for modern craft beer and finding ways to make it Madrileño. Like at Pez Tortilla, where tapas joins forces with craft beer, and the greatest, gooiest tortilla in town and crisp croquetas to die for can be found.

Also taking tapas culture and modernising it is Bee Bier, (“beber”, get it?). Grab stunning local cheese plates and a range of their own wildly creative beers, including a red rice ale, a TIPA with pears and a pistachio stout. Fábrica Maravillas, one of Madrid’s early craft beer adopters, is another must-visit. Brewing since 2012, their insistence on “freshness” echoes the main demand of most Spanish craft beer fans. They want great beer, and they want to drink it fresh.

Near La Latina market is La Tienda de la Cerveza, a bottle shop with a bar and big wooden tables perfect for chatting with strangers at. This place serves great food, aside from a wide range of Spanish-brewed and European beer. Don’t forget to pop into some traditional, family-owned tapas bars too, though. While new bars bring people to Madrid, older bodegas are forgotten in favour of famous bar chains. There’s nothing wrong with gulping a lager while you’re snacking on delicious jamón — and the bar owners will probably tip you off about your next favourite bar while you’re there. If you ever want to leave.

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