Here, we interview Alex Lazarowicz from Barna Brew, creator of award-winning Belgian-style beers brewed in the heart of Barcelona – and who are currently raising a crowdfunding round on WeFunder. Our team has also tasted their beers at various events over the last few years, and they are indeed amazing.
Tell us about the beginnings of Barna Brew: Who’s behind it, when did you open, and why did you decide to offer Belgian-style beer in Barcelona?
I’m Alex Lazarowicz, the founder. In 2014, we had our first pilot beers made in Brussels, and we opened our brewpub in 2017.
When living in Brussels for 6 years, I fell in love with Belgian beers, loving the number of styles and flavours used – which seemed endless! When analysing the craft beer scene in Barcelona, I saw there was a gap in the market for this style.
What are the founders’ backstories? Did you come from a similar industry?
I studied international relations in my native London and then developed a burgeoning career in the EU covering all the institutions, finally ending up as a policy analyst in a think-tank. I always had [a desire] to set up my own business, running different ideas by my friend Dimitris. Although until I discovered Belgian beer, I thought it would be in wine, as I had completed an introductory course in South African wine.
Why did you choose Sant Antoni for the location?
There are plenty of great neighbourhoods to choose from in Barcelona but we liked Sant Antoni best – a nice leafy part of Eixample with less traffic and that was becoming trendy. I also loved that it was a real “barrio” with a strong sense of self and great history, which meant we could create a strong base of local clients.
What are the USPs of the company? Do you have many competitors in this niche?
Being a brewpub is in itself a rare feat in a city like Barcelona. There are only around 8 in central Barcelona. Producing Belgian style is another USP: Only Cyclic Beer Farm are doing Belgian-style too, but more from a sour beer perspective.
Also, drinkability: We strive to make our beers drinkable. Despite being rich in flavour as Belgian beers are, we also want people to repeat and have another glass because they like it so much 🙂
What’s your customer base? Has this surprised you or differentiated from your original perception?
As Sant Antoni has changed, so has our customer base. We still have a great core of locals, but also many expats who have moved into the neighbourhood. I think the only thing that has surprised me is how much older clients have been on board with the craft beer revolution!
How is Barna Brew financed?
It has been a mixture of self-finance along with bank loans and leasing (on the brewery equipment).
How has the business developed since you first opened? Tell us about your successes and which you were most proud of. How did you manage the pandemic?
Well, back when we made our first beers in Belgium, we were given so much confidence from how well our first beer ideas turned out – and then we won gold medals at the Brussels Beer Challenge and Concurso de Cervezas Internacionales in Madrid.
Transitioning to the brewpub model and maintaining these high standards was evidenced by more medals at the Barcelona Beer Challenge and again in CICA.
I am proud of the ambience we have created and the growing following we have managed to develop amongst our clientele.
The pandemic and the resulting restrictions and lack of government support hit us hard. So I’m also proud of having survived that and coming out stronger. We have a better team than ever, we pivoted to cans which has allowed us to build our brand and give us new revenue streams, and we are distributing more kegs than we ever did in the pre-Covid days.
You’re currently raising a fundraising round on Wefunder. What are your future growth (or other) goals for Barna Brew this year and beyond based on those funds?
If we achieve our minimum goal on our fundraising round with Wefunder, we will open a second Barna Brew bar in Barcelona. We have some clients who will be our partners who cannot wait to get started! If we achieve our maximum goals, we will invest in externalising production, sales, distribution and marketing.
Summarise Barna Brew in a sentence for anyone who hasn’t visited yet:
Award-winning, drinkable Belgian-style brews with a local twist served with creative tapas and gourmet sandwiches in a cozy, brasserie-style ambience.
3 ways you can support this local Barcelona company
Here’s how you can support Barna Brew:
- Try their delicious beers and tapas for yourself in their brewpub
- Order beers from their online shop here
- Invest in Barna Brew’s current crowdfunding round on WeFunder here