Author: Malin Norman
Brazil is the world’s third largest beer market with a volume of around 139 million hectolitres. Whilst lagers are still most popular, other styles are gaining momentum. In the recent World Beer Awards, Brazil scored no less than seven World’s Best Style Winners. So what is the deal with the Brazilian beer?
To hear more about what is happening in the local beer scene right now, I had a chat with Pedro Marques, food & beer journalist. He lives in Sao Paulo, which is at the heart of the craft beer movement.
Can you describe the beer scene in Brazil, what is special about it?
The craft beer in Brazil has been evolving in two directions over the past few years. First, the big breweries (Ambev included) have been releasing so called craft beers found in bars and supermarkets. The quality is far from exceptional, it’s more an option to the regular beers. But where the craft beer market really shines is in terms of independent breweries. They are focused on innovation, playing with different beer styles to achieve new flavours and mixing local ingredients in more established styles (IPA, Russian Imperial Stout) and newer ones (New England IPA). The downside is that craft beers are expensive, around US $10 for a 473 ml can, which restricts the consumption to a niche.
At the recent World Beer Awards, breweries from Brazil received many awards e.g. Daoravida Black Wine Rum and Barba Ruiva/Manobier Rauchbock. Why are Brazilian beers so good?
First of all, Brazilians love beer. It is the most consumed alcoholic beverage in the country. For this reason, beers tend to be well-made. Maybe the mainstream ones don’t have superb taste, but they are nice and regular. The beers that receive awards, on the other hand, are made by the independent breweries. I believe that creativity is the main reason, with a high degree of experimentation including the use of local ingredients. Another reason is that these breweries in the last few years have evolved in terms of production quality, getting better equipment and better ingredients.
What do you think the future will hold for beer in Brazil, can you see any trends?
There are a few things happening right now that are likely to continue, for instance more breweries are opening their own pubs. In the medium term, I can see a consolidation of the market, with more breweries being acquired by bigger brands and others being forced out due to strong competition. Also, I think more breweries will be opening in the North and Northeast of Brazil, these regions are in their infancy when it comes to craft beer. However, innovation and experimentation will still be the main characteristic of Brazilian breweries.
Your top 3 breweries?
Dogma, Everbrew, Bold Brewing. But there are many more!
Your top 3 beer bars?
Empório Alto dos Pinheiros, in São Paulo, Templo da Cerveja, in Curitiba, and Bier Markt Vom Fass, in Porto Alegre.
Check out Pedro’s blog (in Portuguese): daora.blogosfera.uol.com.br
Pictures: Malin Norman, Bier Markt vom Fass