Barcelona Day Trip: Craft Beer Tour & Tasting at Cervesa del Montseny

It’s no easy feat wrangling a group of Barcelona dwellers for an early (read: before 1 p.m.) excursion outside the city. If I were to suggest a 9 a.m. start time for, say, a day of hiking, I’m not sure how much enthusiasm I’d receive/have. But change that into a day of tasting local craft beer, and voilà! We all learn how to use alarm clocks on a Saturday.

Cervesa del Montseny: Catalan Craft Brewery

Cervesa del Montseny – a microbrewery about an hour by train from Barcelona – offers Saturday morning tours that are well worth the journey. Montseny is one of the earlier Catalan craft breweries, opened in 2007, and it produces an eclectic and well-balanced selection of beers.

Brian and I have visited twice – once on our own, and once with a group of friends – and both times we were impressed with the friendly, knowledgeable guides. The Saturday tours are only offered in Spanish or Catalan. I spoke with Ferran at the brewery, and he said the guides would do their best to help anglophones understand during the tour (and if you’ve ever visited a brewery or know how beer is made, you’ll be able to follow along just fine). If you have a large group, it may be possible to arrange a private tour in English; contact Montseny.

Tour & Tasting Info

Tours are held most Saturdays at 11 a.m. Look at the calendar on the Cervesa del Montseny website, and click on the day you’re interested in to see if there are spots available. If there are, you can send a reservation request through the web form. Tours tend to book up a few weeks in advance, so plan early.

Worth the early Saturday wake-up call @cervesamontseny

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The visit takes about 1 ½ to 2 hours; the price is 13 euros, which includes a tour of the production facility, generous pours of several beers, and snack platters of meat, cheese and bread. After the tasting, you can buy beer to bring home – mixing and matching bottles to create your own sampler.

Visit Cervesa del Montseny | Traveling To Taste

At our last tasting, we tried the Blat (a citrusy wheat), the Malta (a pale ale), the Negra (a stout), the Lupulus (a hoppier pale ale), the Aniversari (an IPA) and a Mala Vida (one of a trio of imperial stouts). If you’re lucky, you might even get a sample of one of their seasonal beers. Their Castanya (a brown ale made with chestnuts) is available for a limited time in the fall, and it’s my favorite.

Visit Cervesa del Montseny | Traveling To Taste

How to Get There

Take the R3 Rodalies train from Barcelona to the Balenyá-Tona-Seva station (not the Balenyá-Els Hostalets station, which is the one right before you get off):

The R3 leaves from six Barcelona stations:

  • Barcelona-Sants
  • Barcelona-Plaça Catalunya
  • Barcelona-Arc de Triomf
  • Barcelona-La Sagrera-Meridiana
  • Barcelona-Sant Andreu Arenal
  • Barcelona-Torre del Baró

Google Maps will tell you to walk 13 minutes on a roundabout route to get to the brewery. Ignore this, and carefully cut across the tracks to get there in two minutes. I am risk-averse, and I watched Fried Green Tomatoes a lot growing up, so this makes me nervous every time. But you can literally see the brewery from the station, and it’s more dangerous walking on a busy road with no shoulder.

Cervesa Montseny walking map

The current Rodalies schedule has you taking the 9:11 train from Catalunya, arriving a bit early at 10:27. There isn’t another train that will get you to the tour on time, so grab a cafe and wait outside the brewery with the rest of the eager beer enthusiasts.

PSA: Barcelona Beer Festival 2017 is this weekend!

Cervesa del Montseny will be there (it won best artisan brewery in the Barcelona Beer Challenge there last year). BBF is in a new location this year in La Farga in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, and it’s supposed to be much more spacious.

Carrer Barcelona, 44, 08901 L’Hospitalet de Llobregat, Barcelona

  • Friday, March 24, 2017 (11:00-23:00)
  • Saturday, March 25, 2017 (11:00-23:00)
  • Sunday, March 26, 2017 (11:00-21:00)

Access:

  • L1 metro red line
  • R1 Rodalies train

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia (or Cavalandia, as we dubbed it on our last trip there) is a beautiful little town less than an hour by train from Barcelona. It’s full of wineries where they produce cava, the delicious Spanish sparkling wine made using the champagne method.

sant-sadurni-danoia

Sant Sadurní d’Anoia is one of our favorite Barcelona day trips because:

  1. It’s so easy to get to (no DD’s necessary) and involves a day of walking from winery to winery to restaurant to winery
  2. It’s very affordable (full disclosure: my palate is not refined enough to appreciate expensive champagne, and I am very happy with a 5-euro bottle of cava brut nature)
  3. It’s a lot of fun with a group, especially folks visiting from out of town

I recommend calling or emailing wineries a few days in advance to reserve places if you want to take a tour. Or go for the DIY approach and take over a winery’s garden for a barbecue. More details on both methods below.

Barcelona Day Trip: Cava Tasting by Train in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia

How to Get to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia by Train

Take the RENFE suburban train (Rodalies) R4 toward Sant Vicenç de Calders. It stops in Barcelona Sants, Barcelona Plaça Catalunya, Barcelona La Sagrera-Meridiana and Barcelona Arc de Triomf, and you can buy tickets from the machines in the station (less than 9 euros round trip). The train goes directly to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, no transfers, and the journey is about 45 minutes.

There are two trains an hour – but the times listed on the website and the real times trains actually arrive are often a few minutes off in either direction. Just to keep you on your toes. So arrive early to be safe.

You can also buy the Freixetren ticket from the machines at the station, which includes a round-trip train ticket and a tour of the Freixenet winery for 11 euros. If you’re interested in doing this, you still have to reserve a time for the tour on the Freixenet website.

Wineries to Visit in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia

Freixenet and Codorníu are the biggest wineries in the area, and they have a larger international footprint than some of the smaller cellars. Both have good English tours, though you don’t get the personalized experience you have at a smaller producer. Freixenet is definitely the easiest to reach; it’s right next to the train station. Codorníu is a gorgeous property with cool modernist architecture – but it’s not within walking distance, so you’ll have to spring for a cab ride (there are usually taxis in front of the station).

 

First #grapes of the #harvest

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The other wineries that we’ve visited have all been stellar and within a 15-minute walk of the train station:

Gramona: Make a reservation for the historic cellar (they also have a newer facility in a different location).  The staff is very nice and the tastings are excellent. (We’ve only done this tour in Spanish, and I’m not sure if they offer other languages.)

Solà Raventós: I love, love, love this place. It’s a one-man operation, and the proprietor is so nice and generous with his time (and cava) – showing you the caves, explaining each step of the process and letting you taste a wide selection of cava. We’ve visited twice and will go back again. (Tours in Spanish and Catalan.)

 

This weekend in the land of cava. More specifically, Solà Raventós.

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Recaredo: We had such a good experience here. We took Brian’s parents when they came to visit, and our guide took tons of time to show us around and let us enjoy a few glasses. (We did this tour in English.)

Where to Eat

Ticus is in the town center, and it has a great menu del día that never disappoints (plus lots of local cavas and wines to try).

DIY BBQ at Cava Jaume Giró i Giró

Cava Giró i Giró is a 12-minute walk from the train station, and it has a big shaded garden surrounded by long wooden tables and barbecues.

 

Beautiful Sunday for drinking cava and BBQing

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If you call a few days in advance (or perhaps even the day before; they were very patient with the million changes we made to our reservation – and we came with a group of nearly 20), you can reserve space to relax and grill for the day… all while drinking the winery’s chilled cava on demand. The winery provides glasses and wood for the barbecues, but you have to bring everything else you need to cook and eat.

 

Cava BBQ in the cava region ??????

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It’s one of the best ways to spend a sunny day – and you’ll leave with bellies full of cava and food for around 10 euros a person.

Open every day, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
2.50 euros per person for the space
6.40 euros per bottle of brut nature reserva cava (and a glass each to use)

 

We are goal-oriented.

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We also saw that the winery across from Cava Giró i Giró – Cava Blancher – has a similar barbecue setup, with interior and exterior tables available on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays. Guess it’s almost time for another trip out to Cavalandia…

 

Photo credit

Cavatast 2014: A Weekend in Penedès Wine Country

The capital of the cava region, Sant Sadurní d’Anoia, is just a stone’s throw away from Barcelona, a fact that makes me very, very happy.

You can hop on the regional train – Rodalies R4 line – at Plaça de Catalunya and be there in about 45 minutes. You’ll know you’ve arrived when you see the massive Freixenet cavaplex right next to the Sant Sadurní d’Anoia train station.

We have made it out to visit different wineries several times with friends, and for about the last eight months, we’ve been looking forward to Cavatast, the town’s annual cava festival held at the end of harvest season, this year from October 3 to 5:

Cavatast is a space for pairing the best cavas with the best food trends of the season. The exhibitors offer visitors an extraordinary range of products for tasting, savouring, enjoying and taking home.

That sounds good. I’ll have that.

IMG_3026

Our awesome friends Kyle and Arianna were visiting from California, so it was only fitting that we head to the cava fest to take the place by storm. Kyle and I should have started some sort of Sonoma County cheer to represent for our own wine country (next time).

We got to Cavatast in the early afternoon on Saturday, walking the 10 minutes from the train station up to the street hosting the festival, and I was surprised by how uncrowded and laidback it was. A few weeks ago, Brian and I went with friends to a wine and cava festival in Barcelona during La Mercè (the festivities for the patron saint of the city), and it was a lot of fun but packed with people. The scene in Sant Sadurní d’Anoia was much more serene during the day, with no lines and plenty of standing table space, though it did get more crowded as the night went on. Yes, we were there all day.

The prices were super reasonable, and this is what we bought for each person:

Cava and glass (4 tickets + 1 glass) 6.50 €
Additional cava (4 tickets) 5.00 €
Food (4 tickets) 6.00 €
Total: 17.50 €

IMG_3023

Each of the 30-some wineries with a stand at Cavatast offered several different types of cava, for a price of one to four tickets. We stuck within the one to two-ticket range and got to try a great selection of cavas. Two of the favorites were the brut nature from Mont Marçal and Fonpinet (we bought three bottles of each at the end of the night) – subtly dry and flavorful. We also sampled some excellent food from Restaurant Cal Blay – bacallà (cod), fideuà (noodle dish similar to paella), cannelloni with mushroom bechamel sauce and a stew with botifarra negra (Catalan sausage).

cavatast

cavatast

cavatast

It was a long and trying day, making so many difficult decisions about what type of cava to try next. We took a late train back to Vilafranca del Penedès, 10 minutes away, where we stayed the night and regained our strength.

On Sunday, we took the train to Lavern-Subirats – next to Sant Sadurní d’Anoia – to have lunch with friends at the spectacular Cal Pere del Maset, which is a quick cab ride from the station in the town of Sant Pau d’Ordal. Our friend Joan’s family owns the restaurant, and the food is nothing short of amazing. Course after course of seasonal, perfectly prepared dishes.

A few favorites that I now dream about: crepes filled with chicken and covered in foie gras sauce and mushrooms, hake cooked to perfection served with romesco sauce, perfectly rare solomillo (best steak ever) with foie gras and truffle sauce, chocolette croquetas with bitter orange sauce. It was gourmet gastronomic experience with an insane wine selection (seriously, the wine list is bigger than dictionaries I’ve owned), fantastic service and a beautiful setting for very reasonable prices for the quality you receive. A meal like this in California would have cost far more, and Cal Pere del Maset is well worth the day trip from Barcelona. We will find an excuse to go back very soon.

cal pere del maset

All in all, Cavatast 2014 was a great experience, and heading to the festival is going to be an annual tradition. Who’s in for Cavatast 2015?