Sunday, October 4, 2015

Portugal's Beer Scene

You might have noticed an absence of posts here for the past couple weeks. Got a good
excuse, Kay and I spent 15 days traveling around northern/central Portugal for out first visit there. Of course, lots of beer research was conducted too. And so begins my tale:

Truth be told, the beer scene in Portugal is not all that exciting. Mostly you see either of two beers available, Sagres and Super Bock. Both pale lagers, tho good examples of the style.

Sagres is brewed in Lisbon by the Sociedade Central de Cervejas e Bebidas, part of the Heineken family, which probably explains why it's everywhere. It's a pale lager which I found rather crisp and refreshing, expecially after walking up and down hills for a couple of hours.

Super Bock is a pilsner style lager, a low abv of 5.6% and also very drinkable. It's part of the Carlsberg family of beers, from Denmark. I probably drank more of this beer than any other, mostly because it was it was usually the one on tap.  I did try the stout version, from a bottle only, on one of our very early excursions in Lisbon, at a cafe near the train station that serves Sintra which is one of the cities we will visit later in our trip.

The stout was full-bodied, but a milder version, very little coffee/roasted flavor but enough to make it enjoyable and a most importantly, a change of flavor.

The cafe I mentioned with the Castle in the background on the hill. Not visible are the stairs we had to walk up to find this place. Made the Super Bock Stout that much more enjoyable.


I had a moment of elation when I saw the sign for this shop, but quickly turned sour when I discovered it was only a gift shop and nothing to do with beer. Drat! Clearly a serious example of false advertising.

However, there was good news. I did find two craft (or artesanal as they were called) beers, each with an IPA, Sovina and 8a (Oitavacolina). Tho nowhere near the hop presence I am accustomed to here, they were very good attempts and one of the them, the 8a was quite good, had it twice at the Secret Garden Café in Sintra.

While on a late afternoon walk in Porto, found a small plaza with an outdoor market/event which, surprise, had the world's best beer! Well, that's what the sign said anyway. Had to try it of course. Turns out that Primator is a Czech beer that is just being introduced into Portugal. And if you're a Cicerone you know the importance of Czech pilsners in the history of beer.

Talked with Rogério Pinho, beer rep, about Portugal's beer interest and the chances of his beer being accepted. Tasting it, I found it to be very typical of the style, well balanced and crisp with dry finish. Enough flavor to make me have it again sometime. Their slogan and the name of their Facebook page is "we love this beer." I hope they are successful in their attempts and wish Rogério the best.

There were many other fun beer-related moments, so here's a photo compilation illustrating that:

Roman ruins there in the background, Évora, Portugal.

Beer break from museum touring.

Probably wondering if the beer glass is large enough.

Well, had to try the Port, I mean, look where we were. This was our favorite.

Glad to be back home, where some thoughtful friends had left us some Citra Ass Down, double IPAs (Against the Grain Brewery) in our fridge. As I continue editing all the photos we took (over 1500) I may find more to post here, so check back often. 


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