Ignore the Budweiser neon signs and venture into the Von Til along the Plaza de Gràcia. The Gaudí decor includes a brightly colored tiled bar with five taps of Damm beer. Black and white prints of brewing scenes populate the walls. The Voll-Damm (draught) is a clear gold color with a grainy flavor where an underlying hops bitterness results in an overall "coarse" hoppy flavor balance. The Estrella Damm is a clear gold, well carbonated, with a light body (rice?), slight hop bitterness, and crisp, light hops in the finish. The Bock-Damm is medium-bodied, with a caramel sweetness and slight harshness in the finish. The Edel Clara appears to represent the light end of the spectrum and the Especial Von Til looks like a house beer blend.
The local drinking age is 18, and no anti-social or unhealthy behaviors are apparent. The local McDonalds even has a private label house beer! Other beers on hand include Guinness, Paulaner, Erdinger Weissbräu, Gatzweilers Alt, and Krombacher Pils. The Leffe Negra has a nice maltiness with a sweet but complex character. The 6% Alexander Rodenbach is a deep amber color with a very deep cherry aroma. Beneath the paper wrapper this bottled brew pours a head of fine white bubbles, beneath which stands a bold, very sharp and tart fruity flavor. The views are great both inside and out. A wide tortía selection is available for only $2 to $3 per "ration". The lobster and potato offerings for 300 to 100 pesetas are particularly appealing. A flavor combo worth trying is the anchovy and brie.
Although smoking is allowed, the outdoor patio offers some escape, and the staff is very friendly at the well-lit, long inside bar. Some custom glassware accompanies the order of Belgian beers and makes for a nice touch. A half-liter glass runs about 450 pesetas ($2.50 USD), with a "small" 370pts. Compare this to a Bud for 425pts. Both Fosters and San Miguel are also on hand. Restrooms and overflow seating are downstairs. Now open five years, business looks solid. Given the great location, reasonable beer selection, and nice tapas offering, the Von Til seems like a worthwhile stop any time of the day in downtown Barcelona.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - May