At that time my knowledge about beer was not very extensive, and our interest in the restaurant was purely gastronomic, and stemmed from the great recommendations we had received regarding the service, cuisine and the excellent wine list. That same day, El Racó d’en Cesc became one of our favorite restaurants in Barcelona, and the venue for several upcoming anniversaries.
Over the years, and as my fondness for beer increased, I realized that Edgar was not only an excellent professional who worked in the restaurant, but that his extensive beer knowledge made him a reference in the Beer Sommelier scene in Spain.
Edgar trained as a Sommelier at the Sant Ignasi School of Hospitality and Tourism. There he also studied two Hospitality and Service CFGM.
Currently, in addition to being part of the teaching staff of the Sommelier course in that school, he gives courses and lectures, including specialization courses in craft beer at the University of Alicante, and the Beer Sommelier course at the Madrid Chamber of Commerce. He also provides advice to hospitality professionals about pairings, carries out workshops - such as the pairing workshop he teaches on a yearly basis at the Barcelona Beer Festival together with chef Toni Romero -, prepares tasting notes for breweries and individuals, and offers consultancy services.
When you hear Edgar speak, you quickly realize that excellence in a profession is not at all at odds with simplicity and respect. His affable, sincere and spontaneous character also makes him an extraordinary communicator, and this comes from someone who was lucky enough to be his student.
That said, here comes what you have all been waiting for: the result of my talk with a true master and the protagonist of this new edition of Pourtraits. His contribution is a real treat for C R A F T E D. Thank you very much Edgar!
Ø.- I would like to begin, before divulging into more technical concepts, by diving a bit into your memories and explain to us, when did your interest in superior quality beers arise?
Edgar: About 11 years ago, I started collecting beer bottles (only the ones I had drunk myself). At that time I began the Sommelier course at school and I found that I lacked beer training, so I started drinking and reading a lot (not always in that order) on my own.
Ø.- On several occasions I have had the opportunity to hear you talk about beer (and I hope there will be many more!), and in addition to your great knowledge and your exquisite ability to transmit it, your talks overflow with passion and respect not only for your work, but for beer as a product.
Do you think that, in addition to education, being passionate is something important in this sector in order to have credibility?
Edgar: Being passionate is important for any sector, passion is born of the desire to learn and improve, and credibility accompanies all this. I've always said that I have a good time at work, not only drinking beer, but in the restaurant in general.
Ø.- You are a Maitre D’ and Sommelier at the Racó d’en Cesc restaurant since a few years, and when practically no one in our country knew what a Beer Sommelier was, you were already a reference.
What evolution have you noticed, within the world of hospitality, regarding the interest on the part of restaurants to introduce references that are consistent with their gastronomic proposal?
Edgar: As my good friend and chef Toni Romero says "they called us crazy”. From that point to now being called “expert", the truth is that many things have changed. The hospitality sector is always evolving. On the one hand, in hospitality schools, they are organizing beer workshops, and in specializations such as Sommelier, there is more beer-related education than a few years ago.
In the restaurants, evolution is somewhat slower but existing. In breweries, bars or brewpubs, etc., there is more of it. Restaurants have to lose their fear of working with more than one beer and offer the customer the possibility to choose.
“Restaurants have to lose their fear of working with more than one beer and offer the customer the possibility to choose.”
Ø.- In 2016, I remember at the workshop you taught together with chef Toni Romero in the tap room of Barcelona Beer Company - within the framework of the evaluation, tasting and sommelier course of the University of Alicante -, you said a phrase that stuck with me, because I consider it to be fundamental for any business: the client, besides eating and drinking well, has to experience something.
If we focus on beer, do you think that a part of that experience or remembrance, is usually due to the surprise from discovering the immense range of possibilities that beer pairings offer?
Edgar: Wow, what a great memory! I have always said that restaurants do not sell food, you buy food in the market. The human is the only animal that makes eating and drinking a ceremony, so I say that we sell experiences and beer is a fundamental part of it.
The consumer also undergoes changes and evolves, before they found a good restaurant and always went back, but now they are looking for innovation and something that moves them. Surprising the customer is essential for a good experience.
Ø.- Another one of the teachings of that day, were your three golden rules for pairings: criteria, ability to refresh and respect - this goes both ways - between the dish and the beer. Could you delve deeper into these rules and tell us what each of them consists of?
Edgar: Of course, first of all I have to say I am in favor of thinking that there are no unique and irrefutable pairings, that is why I use these three norms.
Criteria refers to being able to answer the “Why?” question. We must be able to explain to the client why we do what we do.
Respect is essential for the balance of pairing, a dish can not kill the taste of a beer or vice versa.
Finally, what we call "ability to refresh" is the most basic concept of why we have a drink on the table. When we are eating, we drink to refresh ourselves (even if it’s just water) and clean the palate, therefore that must be implicit in the pairing.
Ø.- In your fridge you have more than 100 different beers, without taking into account the wines, and I imagine that managing such a cellar is not an easy task.
What advice would you give to a restaurant that wants to start introducing a good selection of beers in its menu, both at the level of styles, variety of countries or even criteria in choosing the brands to work with?
Edgar: Do not buy as many as I ... haha, jokes aside, the first thing is to focus on the local, see which brands work nearby and go for that. We must also consider a selection with several criteria. On the one hand styles, in order not to repeat them, on the other hand temporality, changing styles according to the time of the year. The latter also helps in pairing.
Ø.- Let's talk about service from the point of view of a Beer Sommelier. What basic aspects should be taken into account and what explanations should the professional provide to the client in carrying out an adequate service?
Edgar: Every client is special and they can ask us questions that are very basic (but very valid), or other very technical ones. Basically, the fundamental thing is to be able to solve their doubts "in the same language", sometimes we forget to connect with the client due to all the technicalities.
Ø.- You are involved together with 2D2Dspuma and its brand implik2 in the beautiful Attack the Krab !! project, which benefits are intended in part to finance the leukemia research group at the Sant Pau Research Institute. Can you tell us a little about the characteristics of the beer you brewed this year?
Attack the Krab edition "Mar-Tutxa Krabsares" is a Berliner Weisse with Watermelon and Peppermint. It is a very light and fresh beer, the acidity of a Berliner combined with the balsamic of peppermint... We are super happy with the result. This edition is made in Althaia with Jorge Sánchez and Mayte Pardo, true experts who I am very grateful to.
Ø.- When Edgar finishes the day at the restaurant, takes his motorcycle and arrives at home wanting to disconnect and drink a beer: what kind of beers are always present in your personal fridge / cellar and what are your preferences when it comes to leisure and not work?
Edgar: I am a big fan of very classic Stouts and Porters. I have always loved low-alcohol black beers.
Ø.- Finally: Those of us who follow you on social networks know that in addition to being a biker you are a Star Wars fan, so this question is practically a must: if you had to choose a Star Wars character, only one, to have a beer with, who would be the lucky one, what style would you choose and why?
Edgar: Do you know that I have a "Stories" saved on Instagram with most of the characters in the series and a recommended style? I am going to choose Darth Maul, surely he would have a Barrel Aged Bourbon and I would have a beer from “the dark grain”. He is a character that I think could have been exploited a little more. He goes very unnoticed and that's why I would choose him.