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After five years and countless thousands of euros in renovation, the long-awaited Fàbrica Moritz finally opened its doors in December after 30-odd years of near abandonment. The original brewery on the Ronda Sant Antoni was established by an Alsatian brewer in 1856 and the beer was made in Barcelona right up until the Seventies. Moritz started brewing again in Zaragoza in 2000, but finally, after a 21st-century facelift at the hands of acclaimed French architect Jean Nouvel (who also did Barcelona’s Torre Agbar), Moritz is back home in the motherland.
In creating a new home for such an iconic beer, Nouvel has been true to the provenance of the building, keeping the exposed red brick of the industrial era and the coloured concrete tiles beloved of Modernisme and mixing them up with polished concrete floors and columns throughout the vast, 4,000-square-metre property.
It is now split into several areas over two floors that incorporate a concept shop selling Brompton bicycles, a bakery, cerveseria, wine bar and restaurant as well as the cellars and brewing rooms of Moritz. Stainless steel tanks and original copper fermentation vats are on display on the ground floor, while the cellars have been transformed into a veritable ‘temple to beer’, featuring an eye-popping open fireplace hooded by three sturdy water pipes and amber light-boxes evocative of what’s going on in the vats upstairs. The final touches are provided by a scattering of mirrored pyramids reflecting what’s happening on the street outside.
By sheer size alone, it could feel rather impersonal and disjointed, but in fact it’s one of the most architecturally exciting public interiors to open in the city in a long while and I can vouch for a decent beer brewed on site. But the food also promises a break from the norm with Jordi Vilà (who has one Michelin star for his restaurant Alkimia) heading the project’s gastronomic direction. Rather than opting for deconstructed foaming potatoes in Martini glasses and fussy new-wave tapas, he’s gone for something rather more down-home and pub-like for the cerveseria: his bravas feature a sloppy, cheesy tomato sauce, hunks of pâté and sausage adorn the excellent bread baked in house, and top-notch seafood comes simply grilled or boiled with perhaps a dollop of mayo on the side. The vinoteca—as one might expect—features high-class Spanish bottles with suitable snacks on the side, while the restaurant follows the lines of French brasserie with contemporary Catalan twists.
Fàbrica Moritz: Ronda de Sant Antoni 39-43, tel. 93 423 54 34. www.moritz.com