Carlos Gremone and Debora Schneider transmit pure passion for gastronomy and craft beer. In Bar Centro, a reference in the Barcelona craft scene where Carlos and Debora are co-founders and owners, these two Venezuelans have been playing an important role as ambassadors of good beer in the right side of the Eixample for already a few years.
Recently I sat down for a chat and shared a drink with them, which for me is always a huge pleasure, they are such lovely people! And obviously I took the opportunity to ask them about beer, get their opinion about the craft beer movement, and ask them to help me choose the best pairing to accompany their spectacular Crispy Fried Chicken burger!
Ø: Why craft beer?
Debora: Our focus on quality products, preferably home-made when possible and respecting the environment, goes hand in hand with our philosophy: everything is produced in our kitchen, from preparing the burgers from scratch, making sauces and pickles, choosing Vaca Vieja Gallega meat because they are cows that have the opportunity to be outdoors until an adult age, respecting their growth and providing greater quality to what we later consume.
When you consume quality products your body appreciates it, the feeling is completely different, and it is the same with craft beer. The idea of craft beer is to have a product that accompanies and goes hand in hand with what we do on a daily basis in our kitchen.
Ø: Where and when did you taste that first craft beer that changed your perception and hooked you to the craft world?
Debora and Carlos: Many years ago, we can’t remember the date exactly but about five years ago, we were on a trip to New York and ate at Russ & Daughters which is one of our favorite places there. A couple of streets away we found a store specialized in craft beers, "Top Hop Beer Shop", which has a tasting bar. We went inside to have a look and from that day onwards we began to look for places specialized in beer. When we returned to Barcelona, we realized that there was a certain craft movement on the rise and we began investigating what has happening here.
Ø: Barcelona is a city traditionally dominated by beer giants and industrial lager beers, but you have always opted for craft beer. Have you noticed an evolution and / or maturity in your clientele as far as the consumption of craft beer is concerned?
Carlos: It definitely has evolved, and plenty! Although there is still a long way to go. But it's nice to work in a craft bar and see the increasing amount of people open and willing to try something that for many was unthinkable since it was sometimes categorized as a "hipster" movement (which is so far from the truth), and that there are even clients of a certain age who come back enthusiastically week after week to see what's new, what new features and what new flavors they can taste or what our recommendations are.
This is tremendously pleasing and over time the amount of people has increased who understand that it is not a type of beer to drink fifteen in a row of, but to sit down to taste, enjoy and get to know more about.
Ø: What beer would you recommend to a client who comes to Bar Centro and tells you that he has never tasted a craft beer before?
Carlos: Normally we recommend something soft in order to train the palate, if someone has never tasted something very hoppy it can be overpowering. It depends on what is currently on the blackboard: a Session Ale or a Blonde Ale, or even a Cream Ale or a Table Beer, we always have some of these on tap.
Ø: Have you thought about making your own beer?
Carlos: Yes, we have played with the idea, and we keep on looking into it, but the time hasn’t been right yet.
Ø: What kind of beer would define the identity and soul of Bar Centro?
Carlos: Without a doubt it would be an IPA, something quite classic and hoppy. Making a classic and doing it well is usually the most challenging task, from there we can experiment with other styles where there is room for more freedom. But having a defined style and perfectioning it is the goal.
Ø: What is the last craft beer you have tasted and left you speechless?
Carlos and Debora: From the local beers the 'Mosaic Doble Ipa Latte' from SOMA, and from the imported ones 'We'll Always Have Paris', an Imperial Stout from SORI BREWING in collaboration with BROUWERIJ KEES.
These two have been the latest ones, but by no means are they the only ones, very hight quality beers are being made and on a weekly basis we see really incredible ones.
Ø: Those of us who follow you on social networks know that you love to travel and find inspiration in the gastronomy at the destinations you visit. As far as craft beer is concerned, what place would you recommend us to visit?
Debora: Oh, that is difficult, we still have many places we’d like to visit, like Belgium or the West Coast of the United States, for example, but if we recommend a place nearby, we would begin with London, without a doubt.
Ø: Do you think that Barcelona is at the level of the main European capitals in terms of craft beer?
Debora and Carlos: Quality has risen a lot in the last two years, there is plenty of good beers here that rise to the occasion. We have to keep going!
Ø: You have a cooling system for the kegs that keeps the beer in the best possible condition and eight taps that rotate constantly. What style is always present in your fridge or on your blackboard?
Carlos: With our eight taps we try to keep it balanced, there needs to be a good classic IPA, a more experimental IPA or a fruity one, a good Pale Ale, an Imperial Stout, and in summer a Sour or Berliner, a soft Ale, an Amber or a Bitter.
Ø: Now that the NEIPAs have come to stay, what do you think will be the next trend for brewers?
Debora: Beers with lower alcohol and plenty of hops, we believe that maybe something like a New England Pale Pale.
Ø: Just as visiting Bar Centro without drinking a beer would be a crime, so is leaving without first tasting one of your delicious burgers. I need your help: which beer from your taps would you recommend to pair with your Crispy Fried Chicken?
Debora: Speaking of NEIPA, we now have one on tap from GIPSY HILL BREWING, 'Drifter NEIPA', with 7% ABV that would be perfect.
Neither very soft nor very intense, to contrast with the intense flavors in our Crispy Fried Chicken. It is not an extremely fruity NEIPA, which makes it contrast well and provides balance. If I were you I would order two!
Bar Centro. Calle Casp, 55 08010 Barcelona