Your Complete Guide To Beers in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro

When relaxing on the sandy beaches of Rio de Janeiro, you’re going to want cool off with some refreshing local beers.  Brewtours took a market research business trip (slash Carnival) to Rio back in March and has prepared your official Brazilian beer guide.

A Cerveja and Chopp

The first thing you need to do is order yourself a beer. You can simply ask for a cerveja (ser-ve-ja) or if you’re at a restaurant or bar you can ask for a chopp (shop-pe) which means a draft beer.

Day Drinking On The Beach

1. BRAHMA

Brahma Beer

Brahma Beer – Best Cheap Beer

This is one of my favorite cheap and light beers.  It also happens to be the third best selling beer in the world and the number one selling beer in Brazil.  The reason is because it’s actually a good pilsner.  Yes, it’s your standard yellow beer, but it’s not as thin tasting as the other cheap beers and it has more flavor.  Definitely not very bitter and very easy to drink. Local Tip: If you go to the beach, rent an umbrella and order your beers from the same place.  They’ll bring cold beers to where you are sitting served in beer koozies (see below).

Ipanema Paradise

Can’t get much better.

2. ANTARCTICA- Pilsen

Antarctica Beer

The Carnival Sponsor – Antarctica Pilsen

Maybe marketing got the best of me or maybe it was the penguins, but this beer is sold everywhere and I had no problem drinking it ever where.  Antarctica sponsored everything at Carnival including multiple street/beach festivals and concerts.  It also happens to be the 2nd best selling beer in Brazil.  Local Tip: This is the most common beer sold by street vendors (2 Reals).  You’ll find their styrofoam cooler filled with these blue cans and they will be your best friends.

Antarctica is a very famous Brazilian beer brand and I’ll be discussing their Original beer later.

2. Skol

Skol Beer – Not bad at 6 in the morning.

Skol 360

Skol 360 – Not sure what the difference is

Skol is an interesting beer.  Definitely more watered down than Brahma but still drinkable.  I found Skol in multiple towns as well as it’s younger, more trendy brother, Skol 360.  Not much to say about it…drink it if you can’t find Brahma or Antarctica.

*If you care about politics, Skol was bought by Brahma which also owns Antarctica, which was then bought by AmBev, which merged with Interbrew to create InBev, which then bought Anheuser-Bush to create AB-InBev.  Or, you can just drink your beer on the beach.

4. Schin

Schin Beer

Schin Beer – Please don’t drink it

To this day I’m still confused how this beer could taste so bad.  One thought I have is that I was actually drinking their non-alcoholic beer (it wouldn’t be the first time).  Schin is the third most selling beer brand in Brazil and they have many different styles of beer.  However, on this particular beach day, all I can say is that their beer was almost undrinkable.

Night Out: Restaurants and Bars

So you’ve moved on from the beach, the sunburn is becoming more noticeable, but it’s time to go out.

1. Bohemia

Bohemia Beer

Bohemia Beer – The Oldest Brazilian Brand

Bohemia is a Brazilian brewery (not to be confused with the Mexican beer brewed by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma) which was founded in 1853.  It is one of the lighter pilsner beers, but not watery.  It’s historical significance and Brazilian roots make it a great choice when enjoying an authentic Brazilian dish.

Local Dinner with Beer

Local Dinner with Beer

2. ANTARCTICA – Original

Antarctica Original

Antarctica – The Original

Antarctica makes a second appearance on this review, only this time it’s being served in a bomber and it’s not their pilsner.  Their Original is served in authentic local restaurants in in stores, but it’s harder to find near the beach.  Sweet, light, and refreshing.

3. Baden Baden – Golden

Baded Baden - Golden

Baden Baden – Golden

Cinnamon with brown sugar and vanilla, brewed with wheat.  Think about that for a little bit…  If you want a beer full of flavor go for this one.  I have a lot of respect for Baden Baden because it is one of the few microbreweries in Brazil.  Unfortunately, it was bought by the third largest brewery (Schincariol), so I can’t really say it still has it’s ‘craft beer’ label with a lot of confidence.

4.  Devassa

Devassa

Devassa

I’m going to save you the trouble and let you know that Devassa is not a craft brewery.  Someone told me that there was a brewery called Devassa so I walked 2 miles to get to this place.  Turns out, it’s a chain and there are about 5 of them all over Rio.  Moving on, this place offers the same 4 beers all year long and they’re named after girls’ hair: the red, the blonde, the brunette, and the indian?..  It’s nice that I can order an IPA in Brazil, but don’t put yourself out of your way to make it to this place.  Also, owned by the same company who owns Baden Baden so not really a true craft beer.

Posted in Beer Recommendations, Craft Beer Education | 5 Comments

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival

One of the best events for beer lovers in California is the Boonville Beer Festival, hosted by the Anderson Valley Brewing Company in Boonville, California. While the tasting event itself is merely 4 hours in a Saturday afternoon, many folks arrive a day early and camp at the county fairgrounds. The camaraderie of your fellow beer drinkers runs deep here, and it’s not unexpected to wander around the camping area and meet new people from all over the  world.

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival

People everywhere! And little shade…

I’m not sure what the final head count for the event this year was, but if I had to guess, it would be in the 2000-3000 range. With so many people running around constantly inebriated, one would think there would be a smattering of rage-fueled violence. On the contrary, folks were all there for a good time, and the shared love of beer was common enough ground for all folks to get along. Even the lines to the bathrooms were completely manageable.

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival

No bathroom lines?! Amazing.

This year, 70 or so breweries showcased their finest beers. Of course, some of the bigger players in beer were there (Sierra Nevada and Widmer, for example), but my favorite part was the large number of smaller breweries that I had never heard of. Many brewpubs and microbreweries from around the area brought some pretty amazing beers…and some unfortunate beers, too. But hey, we should always remember that no matter how bad we may think a beer is, it’s some brewer’s masterpiece!

Upon returning from my 3-day, 2-night camping/beer festival extravaganza, several people immediately asked me which beer was my favorite. Having had so many beers, it is hard to pick one favorite, but there were definitely some stand-outs. So, in no particular order, here are my 3 favorite beers from this year:

– Stone Brewing Company: (unnamed) – a young, oaked pale ale. The oak was not overpowering at all, but quite complimentary.

– Bootlegger Brewing Company: Smokin’ Joe – an ever so slightly smokey amber ale with a sweet aftertaste, and hits of bacon, brown sugar, and leather. Admittedly, this wouldn’t be much of a session beer, but it would pair really well with a cheeseburger.

– Anderson Valley Brewing Company: Anniversary Imperial IPA – some 20 hops go into creating this beauty, and the sweet malt balances them perfectly. No wonder it was a Gold Medal winner in the 2009 US Open Beer Championships!

By Sunday morning, I was somehow still up at 5:30am and started frying eggs for the folks in my camp. My liver had not suffered enough, so I washed my eggs down with a couple Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPAs. That bit of beer helped drive away the cold from my bones, and the rest of my group started to pack up camp. I can’t wait until next year!

16th Annual Boonville Beer Festival

Anderson Valley’s scenic beauty really showcased the festival.

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Brewing with Golden Gate BrewTours

On a rainy Saturday, the Brewtour’s guys (Nate, Steve, Casey, and Eric) headed over to Nate’s place for a brew day.   As promoters of good craft beer, we take pride in our ability to brew good beer as well.  Steve owned a hop farm as has been brewing for over 3 years, Nate has been brewing for over 8 years and is the founder/president of a Bay Area Homebrew club.

The first step in this process is the grain.  We traded turns crushing the 2-row barley manually like the good ole days.

Pouring 2-row Grain

Steve Grinding the Grain

Finished Milled Barley

Now that we have our crushed grain, we need to mash the grain (as in steeping tea) to make the wort (sugar water).  Nate has a variety of advanced techniques to do this including a sparging system and a stacked stair method.

Initially Adding Hot Water to the Grain

Hot Water On Top, Sprinkling over Grain in the Middle, Ending with the Wort

Sparging Set-Up

The Wort is Getting There – Notice the Filter

Now that we have our wort we almost have beer.  Wort is basically just sugar water and if you taste it, it’s definitely sweet.  The sugar from the grain have been released when we were steeping the grain and when the yeast will turn those sugars into alcohol.  Before we get there, we need one very special ingredient: HOPS.

We’re Using Centennial Hops

The Wort Ready for Boil + Hops

As Soon as it Boils…

ADD THE HOPS!

Need More HOPS!

We Usually Let the Hops Boil for 90 Minutes

So, we now have our boiling hop water going.  The last ingredient?  Yeast and fermentation.  As soon as the boil is done, we want to cool down our beer as fast as we can.  Nate has a coil that has cold water flowing in while the hot water flows out.  We need to get this liquid into the fermentation tank.

The Wort Immersion Chiller

Making Sure it Gets Through the Filter

Casey Pouring – Almost There

Luke Warm Non-Alcoholic Beer Bong?

Where is this all going?  Into one of Nate’s special fermentation tanks where it will sit for a few weeks.  Before we close it off, we need to make sure we add the yeast (pitching yeast)!

The Yeast Staying Mixed Up

The Fermentation Tank

All Done! Time for this to Sit For a While.


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Anchor Steam Brewery – SF’s Historical Beer

Johnny Tripod – Guest BrewTours writer, former assistant brewer at Pike Brewing Company, and current SF homebrewer – writes about his time at Anchor Steam Brewery in February:

 

On a sunny Valentine’s Day afternoon I attended a brewery tour at Anchor Brewing in Potrero Hill, San Francisco. With me were the workers and owners of Wood Thumb, a woodshop in the nearby Dogpatch neighborhood that specializes in wood neckties. The rest of the group had never visited the acclaimed brewery before so I knew they were all in for a treat.

Anchor Brewing has a storied San Francisco history. The original brewery was begun by Gottlieb Brekel in 1871 in an old beer and billiards hall on Pacific Street in the Russian Hill neighborhood. Bought by Ernst F. Baruth and his son-in-law Otto Schinkel, Jr in 1896 and renamed Anchor, it survived earthquakes, fires, deaths of founders and Prohibition. By the 1960’s, though, increasing competition from mass-marketed national brands and deteriorating facilities had left Anchor on the verge of bankruptcy.  Fritz Maytag of the famous appliance family had recently moved to San Francisco after graduating from Stanford and often enjoyed the local Anchor Steam beer at the Old Spaghetti Factory in North Beach. The beer was gaining a reputation for spoiling and the owner suggested he stop by the Anchor brewery as it would soon be going out of business. He did and ended up buying most of the company in 1965 and the rest in 1968.


When Fritz bought the brewery they had their one beer, Anchor Steam. Fritz began modernizing the brewery and he moved the company to its present location in Potrero Hill.  In addition to bringing Anchor into the modern age he also began introducing new styles to the region. First came Anchor Porter in 1974. In 1975, coinciding with their first profitable year, Anchor released Liberty Ale, the first dry hopped beer in the U.S.A. as well as the hoppiest. The following year brought their first Christmas beer which they have continued to release every winter with a different recipe and tree-themed label. Old Foghorn, their 9% alcohol by volume barley wine was also released in 1975 in small 9 oz. bottles. 1984 brought their Summer Wheat, the first wheat beer brewed in the country since Prohibition. A small beer (3.3% ABV) for easy drinking came out in 1998. A spring seasonal, Anchor Bock arrived in 2005 as well as Humming Ale in 2009 to mark the 30th anniversary of Fritz Maytag taking over complete control of Anchor. Fritz finally sold the company in 2011 to Keith Greggor and Tony Foglio and the Brekels Brown made its appearance the same year. This year they company has also released a new California lager and an ale blend called OBA that is aged in barrels and is available around town.

Our tour group met in the tasting room on the second floor. Our tour guide, Teagan, first gave us the history of Anchor as I’ve noted above. She then led us to the brew house which showcases the beautiful copper kettle and mash-tun surrounded by tile floor.

Anchor brews 100 barrel batches, 5 times a day. We passed alongside the open fermenters that contain their flagship Anchor Steam beer. This is their only beer that uses lager yeast (except for the new California Lager) but they ferment at a warmer-than-normal lager temperature of 60 degrees to bring out more ale characteristics. All the other beers in the Anchor line use ale yeast at 70 degree fermentations. On our way to the cellar we passed the Hop Room where we all inhaled the amazing and pungent smell of whole hops. Anchor only uses hop cones, not pellets. All their hops come from Washington State except for a New Zealand hop they have begun using called Citra.

Down a flight of stairs led us to the cellar where all the beers undergo maturation at 50 degrees. Several of the beers, such as Liberty and the new OBA, get dry hopped at this stage. After cellaring they get filtered and head to the bottling or kegging area. Teagan informed us the new bottling line can handle 400 bottles a minute and 6700 cases/day. The bottles aren’t reused but they do get recycled and turned into new bottles at a nearby Oakland bottling plant.

Back in the tasting room Teagan starting pouring beers for the group.

One of the newer beers is a California Lager which is very clean with a slightly sweet finish. Quite nice. Next up was the classic Steam beer which we all know and love. Such nice balance and very drinkable which is one reason it’s a mainstay of mine around town. Brekel Brown, also a relatively new beer, was next. Named for Gottlieb Brekel, the old brewmaster from the pre-Anchor brewery on Pacific Street in Russian Hill, the Brown has a mid-hoppiness and a nice sweetness to round it off. A little sour note at the finish made for a tasty brew. The Anchor Bock was then poured and it surprised many of us as it comes in at a reasonable 5.6% alcohol level, low for a traditional bock. It had a crisp hoppy finish without a lot of sweetness which can often dominate a heavier bock beer. The dark Porter, a favorite of mine, had that lovely bitterness with the chocolate malt sweetness that defines the style. Yummy! Anchors contribution to the IPA was next in their Liberty Ale. Compared to more modern West Coast IPAs such as Racer 5 or Pliny the Elder, Liberty is very tame in the bitterness department. Drinkable and won’t wear the palate out. Probably not too impressive to hopheads, though. Old Foghorn, the Anchor barley wine, was cautiously tasted as it has that high alcohol level of all barley wines. It’s a big, sweet beer with lots of hops that get buried in all that sweetness and alcohol. Nice on a cold, foggy SF night. Lastly came the newest beer and – surprise! – a blend. Our Barrel Ale, OBA, is equal parts Liberty, Old Foghorn and Bock. All three beers are aged in whiskey barrels for 4-6 months and then blended together. An interesting beer, quite tasty I thought although others in the group weren’t as taken with it. I have seen it around town on tap.

It was such a pleasure seeing all the Wood Thumb workers enjoying themselves so much at the San Francisco icon that is Anchor Brewing. It’s a place steeped in the history of both SF and the microbrewery movement. I have visited the Potrero Hill brewery often and love it every single time. Consider booking a tour yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

Cheers!

Johnny

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SF Beer Week!

SF Beer Week is coming! Starting February 10th and going through the 19th, this annual festival presented by the San Francisco Brewers Guild is sure to please all the beer lovers out there. The list of events going on throughout the week is impressive, ranging from a class on cheese and beer pairings to a festival pretty much just serving Barleywine.

We have teamed up with the guys from Triple Voodoo brewing to be your hosts for the first Saturday of SF Beer Week, February 11th.  This tour has picked out some of the best Saturday events to attend.  We’ll pick you up at 2 locations, first at Alembic departing at 12:30 and then again by the Embarcadero departing at 12:45PM.  While we head over to the Bistro Double IPA Festival we’ll be tasting Triple Voodoo beers, rocking out to a live DJ on board, and passing out some free souvenirs.

After 3 and 1/2 hours of drinking double IPAs, listening to live music, and stuffing ourselves at the BBQ, we’ll head back to SF to catch the Anderson Valley Release Night at Pi Bar.  Lastly, we’ll walk around the corner and finish with some sausages and Triple Voodoo new releases at Rosamunde.

To hop on this official SF Beer Week Tour it only costs you $29!   Beers and food at each event will be on you, but your transportation and beer tastings on the bus are covered!

Details:

Saturday February 11, 2011

12:30PM – Pick Up in SF at Alembic – 1725 Haight St., San Francisco, CA 94117 – (MAP)

12:45PM – Pick Up in SF at the corner of Spear St. and Market St. (MAP)

1:15PM – 4:00PM – Double IPA Festival – The Bistro, Hayward

5:00PM – 6:00PM – Anderson Valley Brewery – Pi Bar, SF

6:00PM – 9:00PM – Triple Voodoo Night – Rosamunde, SF

Admission Cost: $29 – Gets you transportation, music, free beer tastings, and souvenirs

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Holiday Beer Tasting: Old Dipsea Barleywine vs. Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Dipsea Barleywine

Along with eating honey ham, opening presents, and chasing younger cousins, I decided to treat myself and family to a small beer tasting afternoon.  I stopped by Marin Brew Co to pick up their very limited release of the Bourbon Barrel aged Old Dipsea Barleywine as well as their usual Old Dipsea Barleywine.

Every time we have a tour, our group walks through the brewery at the Brew Co and ask about the bourbon barrel sitting in the back.  For the past 10 months, Kim and Tim have been telling us that it’s still aging.  Finally, after all this time they have tapped it, and bottled a limited batch of 22oz. bombers for sale.

old dipsea barleywine

Bourbon Barrel Aged Barleywine vs. Old Dipsea Barleywine

Beginning with the original, we poured the Old Dipsea Barleywine and noticed immediately the thick, dark, and rich amber color of the beer.  The aroma of plums, sweet raisins, caramel, and alcohol were prevalent. As you can tell from the photos below, although the beer is definitely dark, it pours more clear than cloudy.  As expected the head is relatively thin, with a light beige color.

Old Dipsea Barleywine Pour

Pour of Old Dipsea Barleywine

Tasting this original was a treat, as we sipped the smooth, sweet, and strong beer.  Prevalent notes of caramel and malt linger with sweet notes of raisins, dark fruits, and a hint of roasted toffee.  This is a full bodied beer and it lets you know it.  The finish is not bitter as the sweetness/mild hops do a good job of hiding the high alcohol.  Don’t expect to drink this one fast as its alcohol content is around 9% ABV and is extremely rich.

Old Dipsea Barleywine

The Old Dispsea

Moving on, we decided to try to beer of the season: the Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Dipsea Barleywine.  After a little hot water, we peeled the wax off and began the first pour.  I haven’t had many bourbon barrel aged beers before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.

The first difference I noticed was that the beer was more cloudy than the original.  This shouldn’t be a surprise as it has been aging for 10 more months that the former.  It glowed rustic orange in the sunlight while remaining dark and hazy in the glass.  The aroma was much sweeter, filled with notes of sweet alcohol, raisins, and caramel.

Bourbon Aged Old Dipsea Barleywine

2011 Bourbon Barrel Aged Old Dipsea Barleywine

The taste of the aged Barleywine was initially sweeter, with a combination of sweet bourbon, caramel, raisins, and roasted coffee notes.  The end of the sip finished with the sweet but sharp bitterness of bourbon and alcohol.  Although it is the same ABV as the original at 9%, the aged Barleywine tasted much stronger.

It was a sensation and flavor I have never experienced before from a beer and my senses were a bit lost in how to categorize what was going on.  What I know for sure is that it is strong, big, flavorful, and damn special.  Imagine watching Avatar for this first time, but the 3D colorful flora are sweet alcoholic flavors that will quickly awaken your drunk holiday spirit. I’m pretty sure that’s not an official beer judge description, but it’s the best I can do…

Old Dipsea Barleywine

Our Work Is Done: Both Barleywines Ready to Drink

Well, I’m looking forward to picking up one last bomber of the aged Barleywine before I have to wait another year to try it again. I highly suggest you try one before they sell out.  I doubt there will be any left by the time we visit on our tour on January 28th, but the original Old Dipsea may still be on tap.   I hope you all had a Merry Christmas and are enjoying the Holidays as much as we are!  Cheers!

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Golden Gate BrewTours: 2011 Year in Review

They always tell you to pick a job where you do what you love.  Well, if I can get paid money to drink beer I think I’m doing it right.

A year ago, Ryan and I were preparing for our first tour, not sure what to expect for 2011.  Having received the first Innovative Start-Up Business award from a group of Claremont McKenna College alumni we were excited to take this opportunity and put it towards something that we love to do.

With about a year of planning behind us, we couldn’t wait to see how the first tour would turn out.  From young to old, everyone enjoyed the day’s adventures of new beers, meeting the brewers, and seeing huge barrels and mash tuns at all the breweries.  The tour was a success and we knew we would be putting on more.

First Tour - at Lagunitas

With the first tour past us, we offered public tours once or twice a month, continuing to make the tour a better experience every time.  We were fortunate enough to be featured on Thrillist in February, resulting in us selling out our next 2 breweries very quickly.  Not much time after, we were also featured on KGO Saturday morning talk radio, with Rich Walcoff.

CMC Alumni Tour

The rest of 2011 flew by, hosting birthday parties, alumni tours, and expanding to visit more breweries in SF as well as the North Bay.  We have also added more BrewTours souvenirs now including T-shirts, Brewtours bottle openers, magnets and pint glasses.

GoldenGate BrewTours Pint Glass

BrewTours Pint Glass

Below are some 2011 BrewTours stats:

  • 2,535 – number of beer tastings provided in 2011
  • Texas, Arizona, Washington, and Colorado – not all of our customers are local, many are tourists!
  • 51 – different beers tasted over 2011 on our tours
  • Breweries visited: Marin Brew Co, Lagunitas, Moylan’s, Rogue Ales, Triple Voodoo, Thirsty Bear, Speakeasy

Tim the Brewer @ MarinBrewCo

So, what’s to come for 2012?

  • A special event for SF Beer Week.
  • More beer festivals
  • A few super secret projects…expect an announcement in January/February.
  • Hiring beer tour guides!  Email eric@goldengatebrewtours.com if you’re interested.
  • Exclusive Golden Gate BrewTours beer packages
  • Lots more public and private tours

Thanks for all your support! If you’ve been on our tours share your photos with us and spread the word to your friends.  Here’s to drinking more good beers in 2012!

Cheers!

Eric and Ryan

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