8 Craft Beers From Brazil

Drink Lists

It could be argued that Brazilians savor the finer things in life more than most people. Many Brazilians dedicate much of their free time to sipping cocktails, drinking beer, cooking meat and making elaborate dishes, often at the beach with family. It’s no surprise then, that over the past few years, the craft beer market has exploded in this large South American country.

A recent trip to my motherland afforded me the opportunity to dive into the world of Brazilian craft beer head first. Where some breweries are attempting to incorporate indigenous fruit into their recipes, others are borrowing from American and Belgian styles. I sampled a number of brews from different breweries and found some clear cut stand out beers (and a couple losers). Here are eight craft beers from Brazil. “Saúde!”

Colorado “Indica” IPA
Cervejaria Colorado

This beer, from one of Brazil’s more recognizable and widely-available craft breweries, has a beautiful rich copper color, but doesn’t come with the vibrant hop character you’d normally expect from an IPA. Instead, it has a toasty toffee and nutty quality, typical of brown ales. Colorado recommends pairing it with seafood, and I can totally see it next to a plate of oysters and a caldeirada (brazilian bouillabaisse) because it has a ton of flavor and is bright enough to lend itself to warm tropical days in Brazil.

Cervejaria Baden Baden

Widely considered to be Brazil’s first “Gourmet” brewery, Baden Baden is in the quaisi-Swiss picturesque town of Campos Do Jordão. Their flagship beer, Cristal, has a slightly tart pilsner quality, but there’s a certain depth of flavor present here that you don’t necessarily find in some pilsners. The beer is full-bodied and bursting with fruity undertones without being fruit forward.

Eisenbahn Saison
Cervejaria Sudbrack

Sudbrack makes a quality draft pilsner. It’s cloudy, with a tasty and complex malt structure. But this saison was just awful. This is the first example we’ll see of a Brazilian brewery attempting to incorporate indigenous fruits in their brews. It uses “red fruits” like raspberry pulp, strawberry and blackberry along with pink pepper. But the finished product comes across musk-y as hell and the fruit drowns out the potential character of the saison yeast. It’s ambitious to introduce native fruits in the beer-making process, but this one falls flat on its face.

Cervejaria Wals

Like Eisenbahn, Belo Horizonte’s Wäls is a generally well-respected brewery, boasting the “Petroleum” imperial stout as it’s most decorated beer. But the “Verano” summer pale doesn’t score as high with its malt forwardness and citrus-y yeast aftertaste. The Verano is a 5% ABV, weak pale with only a hint of floral tones and faint caramel maltiness that comes across almost like a German dunkel. I asked a local if he’d found any good Brazilian pale ales to date and his response was curt: “I haven’t found one yet.”

Petroleum Cocoa Imperial Oatmeal Stout
DUM Cervejaria

The DUM Petroleum (Not to be confused with the Wäls Petroleum) was hands down the best beer of the trip. Someone in Curitiba was really thinking when they made this one. With toasted almonds and raisin on the nose, this strong stout has a smoky flavor and a coffee ground finish with a lot of bite. This is a really complex beer that finishes light and clean for 12% ABV, and doesn’t come across like it’s made from an “emerging” brewer at all. The side of the bottle says in Portuguese: “Those that are patient will be rewarded,” and it’s clear that there was a distinct vision with this beer; a concerted effort from a talented brewer who masterfully incorporated native cocoa flakes and oatmeal. Even a hint of whiskey rears it’s way into the palette, perhaps from the barrel.

Göttlich Divina!
Cervejaria Opa Bier

This is a weissbier with guarana (a natural form of caffeine, found in many energy drinks) from Brazil’s southern region in Santa Catarina. Now here is an example of a successful use of indigenous fruit. This award winning beer uses guarana seeds from the amazon to create a Weihenstephan style beer with a beautiful and deep aroma of German wheat. Hops and yeast are balanced and the guarana flavors are subtle. It’s reminiscent of a winter day in the biergartens of Brazil’s German-influenced Southern region.

1,000 IBU Imperial IPA
Cervejaria Invicta

The nose is very malt forward, which might be surprising given the name. Actually, the hops and bitterness you’d expect are overshadowed by the malt bill in this balanced imperial IPA. At 8%, you feel it by the end of the first glass, and as time passed, it really opened up with some tropical tones. Props to the lovely label; easily the coolest one of the bunch. It’s definitely worth seeking out, just to claim your own assessment of what a beer with “1,000 IBUs” tastes like.

La Sorciere Belgian IPA
Cervejaria Urbana

From the center of Sao Paulo’s Cervejaria Urbana, this Belgian/American style beer has sharp maple and raisin aromas and corresponding fruit flavors. This is a well-balanced ale that doesn’t come across too strong. The 65 IBUs make for an intelligently-hopped Belgian, but the IPA moniker seems suspect. Either way, this was a fine effort from a budding craft brewery.

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