Brazilians love drinking beer. It is for example common to start drinking a beer in the aisle of the supermarket before you have paid for it. The beers at bars and restaurants are most of the time served in big bottles of 600ml packed in a plastic cover of styrofoam to keep it cold. You order a bottle with a few glasses and share the bottle with your friends instead of everybody having their own smaller bottle. It’s is a prime example of the sharing culture in Brazil.
The pub culture in England has similarities to the Brazilian culture. After work hours, and also during work hours;p, you see mostly men drinking beers at the ‘lanchonetes’. This is the Brazilian combination of a bar and snack bar, which are usually filled with very ugly colourful plastic chairs and merchandise of a beer brand. You will find these chairs also at the beaches, what can kind of screw up your photo when you want to make a nice one like below.
Draft beers in Brazil are not very common and most of the time they are only on offer at special or luxury restaurants. Even in famous clubs such as Green Valley, which was last year voted as best nightclub in the world, they kept the beer cans cold in big barrels, like below. Pretty medieval for one of the best nightclubs in the world I would say, even though the rest of the club was amazing.
A remarkable thing of the Brazilian beers is that they are always served cold! Always and not even close to tepid. Some Brazilian bars keep the beers in the freezer before they serve them to make sure it’s cold as ice, which sometimes results in frozen beers. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, Brazil is a tropical country. For the majority of the country it is hot weather all year round. The second reason is because the taste of the most common beers Brahma, Antartica, Skoll, Itaipava and Kaiser are so bad, that when you don’t serve them cold, the taste is terrible, or ‘slootwater’ how we say in Dutch.
Brahma, Antartica and Skoll are owned by multi brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev. You see them a lot, mostly for very cheap prices at the lanchonetes or at the beach. Those beers are all made of not malted cereals to keep the production costs as low as possible. A pity because, according to my German-Brazilian couchsurf host and beer specialist from Blumenau, beers are way better if they are made from malted cereals, like Heineken for example. In this way the beer has a stronger taste.
Last year’s there was a lot of critic on the giant breweries. Beer lovers in Brazil were complaining that AB InBev was too much focused on making money and too less on the quality of the beer. Small breweries as Eisenbahn (Blumenau), Devassa (Rio de Janeiro) and Colorado (Sao Paulo) started a community to make the small beers big again and to go for quality instead of profit. Unfortunately also in this case money makes the difference. Colorado was bought by AB InBev and Eisenbahn and Divessa by the Japanese Kirin Brewery, another multinational.
However, for me, Eisenbahn is still the best beer. It was created in 2002 in the German-Brazilian city of Bluemenau in the South of Brazil following the “Deutsche Reinheitsgebot” (German beer purity law). Yeah its weird but Germans have rules how they have to make their beers. International beers like Stella, Corona, Heineken and Amstel, the best pilsner beer in the world, are also very well known in Brazil, which I will write more about in my next blog.