In last week’s post I mentioned that one of the things I miss most about being away from the UK is a good pint of bitter. Fortunately, Brazilian microbreweries are starting to produce them, with last week’s Beer of the Week (Baden Baden 1999) being one of the better examples.
Another interesting – surprising even – development in Brazilian beer tastes is the emergence of IPA (Indian Pale Ale) style beers. Surprising because their strongly hoppy, bitter and high alcohol content run contrary to all the mass produced beers that dominate the Brazilian market – namely bland ‘Pilsners’ like as Brahma, Skol and Itaipava.
IPAs are said to originate from the time of the British Empire, when it is claimed that brewers in the UK produced beers with more hops and a higher alcohol content to ensure traditional Pale Ales lasted the boat journey from the UK to India (hence the name). However, there are those who challenge this as being urban myth so your guess is as good as mine.
Nevertheless, all you need to know is that traditional IPAs are not for the faint-hearted. Apparently, they also put hairs on your chest.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the majority of Brazilian beers are macrobrewed and labelled as Pilseners – albeit watery and quite bland. However, Brazil’s burgeoning microbreweries are increasingly introducing a wide variety of styles and flavours to the market.
One style in particular that I’ve enjoyed recently is Rauchbier – a smoky lager that originates from Bamberg in Germany. Its smoky flavour comes from the drying of malt (one of beer’s key ingredients) over open flames before its use in the production of the beer.
At last week’s first ever Brazilian Beer Competition in Blumenau, two Rauchbiers were adjudged to be Brazil’s best smokey beers, and by chance I happened to have one of each in my fridge!
And they are? Well, the silver medal went to:
Whilst the majority of Brazilian Pilseners, which make up 98% of the Brazilian beer market, can be dismissed as bland and watery, there are an increasing number of microbrews offering something a little different. One of them is brewed by Göttlich Divina and it is this week’s Brazilian Beer of the Week.
Göttlich Divina – Pilsener Extra com Guaraná
The Vital Statistics
Brewery: Choperia & Distribuidora Opa Bier (Joinville, Santa Catarina)
Size: 600ml bottle
Where purchased: Pão de Açúcar (also seen in larger supermarkets in São Paulo).
Cost: R$11 ($5.50; £3.60)
Background: Göttlich Divina beers are brewed in Joinville, a city in the state of Santa Catarina that was founded by German, Swiss and Norwegian immigrants.
The beers were developed after the brewery’s founders visited the German monastery of Weihenstephan in 2007 – which dating from the year 768 is the world’s oldest brewery. After the visit they decided to incorporate Old World brewing methods with original ingredients from Brazil and around the world.
One example of this can be found in today’s choice of beer, in which the process of Dry Hopping (adding hops to a beer as it ferments) has been used, although in this instance using Guaraná (a Brazilian fruit) rather than extra hops.
What’s it like?
I was quite excited about this when I bought it and expected it to have a very distinctive Guaraná taste. However, it’s flavour is actually quite subtle with the dry hopping process having the effect of leaving only a hint of fruit and citrus. Refreshing and slightly bitter.
Lively, it pours with a clear, golden body and a nice white head, with a fruity aroma.
the book is on the table’s Rating: It’s towards the higher-end of the Brazilian beer market and this is reflected by its price. However, given the extra attention paid to the ingredients and the brewing process it’s worth it. Importantly, it shows that Brazilian Pilsener doesn’t necessarily have to be bland and as cold as humanely possible in order to be refreshing.