We visit the nomads of Barcelona

Northern Monk have an unlikely connection with Spain, with many of the team here having numerous friends and family across the country. It’s also now our biggest export market with Northern Monk beers gracing the taps of some Barcelona’s finest watering holes. On my (Russ) last trip to catch up with an old friend in Seville I decided to see if we could work with one of the pioneering breweries in the now flourishing craft beer scene. Nomada were an obvious choice given our shared origins of gypsy brewing and the fact that we’ve all been big fans of their beers having enjoyed them on trips to Spain for a number of years.

I touched based with founders Sami and Javier and they were keen to put something together. After weeks of recipe formulation, sharing ideas and a five hour road trip up from Seville we found ourselves in the historic city of Cuenca where Nomada now brew the vast majority of their beers. After a particularly gnarly brewday Javier and his team were still at the brewery at 11:30pm so we dove in a taxi to the less aesthetically appealing industrial outskirts of the City. After 5 hours more brainstorming, beer sampling, gin and tonic consumption and catching up we were ready to create Frate Nero the next day.

Brew day kicked off at 10:30am and after 4 hrs sleep in 34 degrees it was a somewhat arduous task although after some concern over the coffee arriving from the local roasters in time all went smoothly.

For our collaboration with Nomada Brewery we choose to use the Sidamo coffee bean, a type of Coffea arabica. It’s origin comes from the southwestern highland forests of Ethiopia and is believed to be the first species of coffee to be cultivated. According to folklore, the reason for human cultivation came after goats in Ethiopia were seen mounting each other after eating the leaves and fruits of the coffee tree. It was later noted by Arab scholars that it help prolong working hours, however it wasn’t until the beans were roasted in Yemen to make a new brew, that the drink spread across the world.

The Sidamo bean is valued for its deep favours, spice and chocolate-like taste, with a floral aroma. It’s a perfect choice to be paired with some of our favorite tropical hops, Simcoe and Citra, finishing our newest brew off with oats to give a great texture and thick body that works with the dark roast flavours to produce a classic, flavoursome beer.

Frate Nero was launched at Olut, Nomada’s Bar in the outskirts of Barcelona and had it’s UK debut at The Craft Beer Co, Covent Garden, Small Bar, Bristol, Port Street Beer House, Manchester our Refectory, The Free Trade Inn, Newcastle and The Hanging Bat, Edinburgh. It’s now available across the country and selected European outlets. Try our newest Imperial India Coffee Stout brewed in collaboration with Nomada Brewery it comes in at 9.5% ABV and is a complex, smooth and coffee filled flavour experience.