The last edition (2019) of Barcelona Beer Challenge, Cerveses La Pirata, got the big award of the contest: THE BEST BREWERY at winning four medals and getting the maximum score of the contest: 3 golds for the following styles: IMPERIAL STOUT with the beer Hard Decision, WINTER SEASONAL BEER with NADALA and AMERICAN AMBER ALE with the beer SANSA, they also obtained a bronze in the style AMERICAN AMBER ALE with the SÚRIA
We visited their Brewery in Súria (Barcelona) to view their facilities and to know their experience after having been rewarded with one of the maximum awards of the Barcelona Beer Challenge 2019. And we have to say that the team is like their beers: incendiary, craft and natural.
La Pirata is a brewery with a lot of personality and with a long haul behind them. Aran León, co founder and brewmaster, started to brew at home in 2004 and won’t be until 2012 when he decided not to be a “pirate” anymore, and he started to work as a gypsie (he produces in other factories) until at the 2015. Because of the big success of his elaborations and the international demand, he had opportunity to develop their own beer factory with 3 other partners.
Along the visit we had long conversations, questions came up and we think that they are worth it to share.
You are taking part at the BBC since the first year, what boost you to participate?
Basically, there are two lines: On one hand, because of the huge dimension of the BBF (Barcelona Beer Festival) and its contest BBC, it’s interesting for us take part due to the big impact of it. And on the other hand, it is a serious contest, well-organized, and gives to the brewer a feedback and helps us to assess the work that we are doing.
How do you decide the beers to present for the contest?
Presenting everything! 😀 (just kidding) We use to present a lot of references at the contest but always beers that we are proud of them and easily identifiable by the BJCP styles.
Which is your general production? How do you start to create new products?
We have different sizes of batches, depending on how experimental is the beer. Nowadays the brewing industry furthers you to create a lot of new beers. This fact is suitable for us because we fill comfortable, and we have international vocation that we achieve along of the years thanks to the contacts done. There isn’t any month that we don’t have some fellow doing a cooperation in our factory.
Do you recommend the BBC experience? What do you think about international beer competitions?
We have the utmost consideration for the BBC. As we said before: firstly because is the BBF (Barcelona Beer Festival) contest and secondly ‘cause it’s the most outstanding contest in South Europe. We don’t use to participate in the international competitions because doesn’t add much to us. You can easily see if a contest is good or not: those who really look for a quality breakthrough and those that are contests-that you buy-awards which you pay and you will have practically guaranteed the award, we are not interested in these contests because doesn’t give us any prestige.
This year you surprised us by making the beer cap with the BBC Award. How did the idea come about?
We were thinking about changing all the lavels, but we had a big stock of some of them. This is how we had the idea and it has been very successful, we are having a very nice feedback. With the new beers we are going to incorporate it in the lavels, too.
Which are your memories of the ceremony award? It was exciting?
You can imagine it! It was a very special moment. We were aware that we had won several medals but we weren’t counting the points. When the count down started , we fell that perhaps we could be the winners. We had our heads in a cloud. To win any category is already a rush, it’s a small recognition of the hard work of a whole year, but the award for the Best Brewery, is like the recognition of many years of hard work. Receiving all the love of friends and colleagues, it is priceless.
And what happened after winning the contest? And which was the impact of it?
The first week was crazy, we had a lot of interviews and a lot of press repercussion, especially in the local press. The distributors also did a great job. We noticed that we had a very powerful new selling argument and we are having a good feedback. After all, winning a prize in itself, does not open a door, but it gives you a new tool to do it, you have to use it.