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UA alum opens beerhall in Barcelona, Spain

Courtesy Darià Artiola
Blonde ale beer from CocoVail Beer Hall in Barcelona, Spain. CoCoVail opened its doors in 2016.

 CoCoVail Beer Hall, owned by a University of Arizona alum in Barcelona, Spain, recently celebrated their one-year anniversary of opening.

UA graduate Andrés Carrasco and his business partner Toni Garcia originally established the beer hall in August 2016. Carrasco and Garcia grew up together in Barcelona before both relocating to the United States for college.

The two attended different universities; Garcia enrolled in the University of Missouri. Following their graduation, the two friends traveled around the U.S. for three years exploring bars, beer halls and pubs all across America. 

“Before I came back here, I dedicated many of my trips and vacations to go to different states in the U.S. to do research on different breweries, beer halls and brewpubs, and it helped me in developing CoCoVail,” Carrasco said. “I did a lot of research in New York, California, Boston, Pennsylvania, Maine, and even went all the way to Alaska for two weeks by myself. It was an adventure.”

Carrasco was inspired to open CoCoVail by many of the Tucson bars and pubs that he frequented during his time at the UA. 

Andres Carrasco, the owner of CocoVail Beer Hall. Carrasco is a graduate of the UA.
Andres Carrasco, the owner of CocoVail Beer Hall. Carrasco is a graduate of the UA.

“I missed home, but I wanted to bring back something that I learned from the states, and that’s when I decided I wanted it to be an American beer hall,” he said.

Once Carrasco felt like he had collected enough information on American bars, he returned to Barcelona to open his own Americana-style beer hall with Garcia. 

The beer hall incorporates classic American favorites such as chicken wings, burgers and poke bowls, while also incorporating popular Spanish dishes. CoCoVail also hosts special events for students and other customers including NFL Sundays. 

Carrasco said one of his primary sources for inspiration for creating CoCoVail was when he visited two of his friends’ beer garden in Argentina.

Brothers Federico and Nacho Murgier opened their beer garden, Brüder, a popular socializing spot for locals and tourists in Mar Del Plata, Argentina in 2013.

Carrasco met the Murgiers while teaching tennis in New York after graduation. The following year, Carrasco visited the brothers’ beer garden and began designing his plans for CoCoVail. 

“Their influence was huge in executing,” Carrasco said. “Going from wanting to start a business and being excited about it to actually doing it.”

CoCovail is unique from other bars in Barcelona because although Barcelona has a substantial amount of small microbreweries, the concept of a large, festive beer hall is uncommon in the area, according to Darià Artiola, who is involved in marketing for the beer hall.

RELATED: Exchange students experience life as a Wildcat

Artiola, who grew up in Tucson and also attended the UA, has been working marketing for CoCoVail for a few months.

Artiola and Carrasco met through mutual friends in their fraternity. They bonded through their appreciation and family ties in Barcelona. After moving to Barcelona to be closer to his family, Artiola sought out Carrasco.

“I knew kind of through the grape vine and thanks to social media that he had started this bar,” Artiola said. “I ended up rolling in the door, and now I’m helping him with whatever he needs for digital marketing.”

CoCoVail is also distinct in Barcelona because it creates a sense of community between college students studying abroad, Artiola said. The bar has hosted students from many different universities such as University of Mississippi and UA.

“There are five or six big study abroad programs here,” Carrasco said. “It is one of our goals to become a reference in the study abroad community.”

Carrasco said CoCoVail serves as more than just a beer hall to students. It also acts as a second home to the study abroad community.

RELATED: Students attend Study Abroad Fair to learn about opportunities for international studies

“I want [CoCoVail] to sort of be like an embassy to the students,” Carrasco said.

Artiola agrees that CoCoVail functions as a safe community for students studying abroad as well as a business.

“It’s definitely like a little America here,” Artiola said. “There are always Americans at the bar along with a lot of college kids, so the environment is very familiar for people who are looking for a home away from home.”

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