Saturday, 17 October 2015

En Tour - Craft Beer In Lisbon

Time was when beer in southern European countries was all about a few big combines giving the drinking public nothing more than a choice between one industrially produced lager-style beer, and another. There would be darker coloured variants, but little more. In Portugal, that until recently meant a choice between Sagres and Super Bock.
Praça do Comércio, Lisbon

Fortunately, craft beer has arrived in Lisbon, and there are now several brewers in this burgeoning niche market. The number of specialist bars is small - there are only two in Lisbon thus far - but both are worth visiting. Here’s where you need to head to, and what you can expect to find there.

Cerveteca Lisboa - the first, the best, and on busy days the busiest, craft beer outlet in town. It’s located in the Bairro Alto district, and finding it from the central Baixa area, or that around the Rossio, can be difficult without your trusty smartphone and Google Maps.

Easiest way to get there from the area around the Largo do Carmo and Largo de Camões: head up the Rua do Loreto, turn right after the top of the hill into Rua de O Século, then left into Rua Academia das Ciéncias, right at the end into Rua São Marçal, bear right to continue on that road, across the next crossroads, and Cerveteca is ahead and to your left. The signage is understated and only visible close up.

The number of beers on tap goes into double figures: on my first visit I tried the PS Brewery Equinox IPA (excellent) and a smaller glass of de Moelen Tsarina Porter. Two days later it looked like a completely fresh slate of beers, and I sampled Aroeira Bruta “Lisbon Pale Ale” (also excellent) and Passarola Rye Amber, very smooth drinking, and also very strong.

There is a small menu of food items, and the staff will provide a bag for you to take away bottles. Cerveteca is open every day.

LisBeer - convenient for those staying in the Baixa and Rossio areas, this bar is just off the south-east corner of the Baixa at the foot of the Alfama. You can see the doorway from the street. It doesn’t open on Mondays.

The number of beers on tap was smaller than at Cerveteca, and there was no sign of anything local, but the bottle beer selection is very good and the staff are knowledgeable and enthusiastic. I sampled a Gulden Draak and a Tripel Karmeliet - both very enjoyable.

LisBeer is close enough to the Baixa’s restaurants for there to be little excuse not to look in  there later in the evening.

One mention of local brewers: apart from Passarola - you must check out their IPA - there are also good offerings from Mean Sardine, 8a, Bolina, Aroeira and others. You will not be short of strong, hoppy beers to sample. You won’t get that from Sagres or Super Bock.