On Tap: Caña (+/- 250ml) Mediana (+/- 330ml) Tanque / Pinta (+/- 500ml)
Bottle: Litro (1000ml, for sharing) Tercio (330ml) Cuarto (250ml) Quinto (200ml)
Can: Bote (330ml)
One of the first Spanish phrases many foreigners learn is “una cerveza por favor,” which literally translates to "a beer, please." However, this phrase is not commonly used in Spain. If you say this, the bartender or server will likely ask you for more details, leading to confusion. Therefore, here's a quick “Spanish beer lesson” to ensure you don't find yourself tongue-tied next time. Beers come in different sizes, so let's break it down.
This is the smallest beer (a short glass sometimes used for wine). In Galicia, the northern regions of Castilla y León, and La Rioja, this beer is called “corto,” while in the Basque Country, it's called “zurito.” In the Aragón region, this small beer is known as “penalti.” These are often casual drinks, making it seem like you're not drinking much... unless you have three or four, of course.
In this category, the most requested beer is the “caña” (pronounced canja). In almost all of Spain, this term can be used for a draft beer served in a 200ml glass, often with a thick layer of foam (or not). However, there are variations even with the “caña.” What's called a “caña” in Barcelona is referred to as a “doble” in Madrid. In Spain, it's more common to say “una caña por favor” or “ponme una caña por favor” (a beer, please) rather than “una cerveza por favor.” In Catalonia, you'd say “si us plau, una caña.”
In the 200ml category, you'll also find the smallest types of beer bottles, which go by different names. From “quinto” to “botellin” and “botijo,” it depends on the region where you're ordering. There's also a 250ml bottle (which isn't common in bars but can be found in supermarkets) called “cuarto.”
Now, we're moving on to slightly larger beer glasses with names like “tubo” (similar to a pipe) and “doble.” The latter term is more common in the Madrid region and isn't the same as the “doble” known as “caña” in the rest of Spain. For bottled beer, it's called “tercio” in most of Spain, but in Catalonia, it's “mediana,” and in Asturias, it's called “media.”
The half-liters, popular with Brits and Germans on vacation in Spain, are also enjoyed by Spaniards and are called “jarra” or “maceta” in Andalusia. Other names include “tanque” and “pinta,” depending on what you remember.
For those who aren't satisfied with half a liter or enjoy drinking beer in groups, there are liter glasses with various names (popular with young people). In the Basque Country, it's called “katxi,” in Castilla y León and Asturias, it's called “cachi,” in Madrid, strangely enough, it's “mini,” and in Cantabria, it's “tanque.” Generally, the plastic glasses aren't always filled with a liter of beer but rather 750ml of beer and three to four fingers of foam. That's why in Asturias, people say “cachi un litro,” which translates to “almost a liter.” Large liter bottles of beer are also available in Spain with names like “litro,” “Xibeca” in Catalonia, or “litrona” in most of Spain.
Beer mixed with lemonade or “gaseosa” (a type of soda) is called a “clara” in almost all of Spain, but of course, there are differences. Throughout Spain, a “clara” is made by adding lemonade (especially in Catalonia) or gaseosa to a glass and then filling it up with beer from the bottle or tap. The usual ratio is 4 parts lemonade/gaseosa to 6 parts beer.
The “clara” is also known as “shandy,” “panaché,” and “mixta,” but they generally mean the same thing. “Shandy” is used a lot in Mallorca, influenced by English, but it was originally called “barretjat” in Mallorca. In the provinces of Tarragona (Catalonia) and Castellón (Valencian Community), the “clara” is called “champu,” while in Navarre, the Basque Country, and Cantabria, it's known as “lejia” and “pika.”