Beer Transcends Language, Distance
I found myself tweeting in Portuguese last week. About what, you may ask? About beer, of course. Paulo Cavalcanti of Cervejaria Bodebrown in Curitiba, Brazil, traveled to Raleigh, NC, last week for the inaugural Raleigh Rare & Vintage Beer Tasting. Bodebrown sent its Wee Heavy and its Bourbon Barrel-Aged Perigosa Imperial Milk Stout for the event, along with Paulo to pour and to act as an ambassador for what Stephen Beaumont has called “an enigmatic brewery and brewing school combination led by Samuel Cavalcanti, who wears his disdain of the Reinheitsgebot like a badge of honour.”
Using Twitter and Google Translate, I saw that Paulo had arrived in town a few days before the festival. After a few confusing Direct Messages on Twitter, I hoped that I had arranged for Paulo to meet me at a local bottle shop, or “liquid store,” for a Heavy Seas tasting that night. The time of the tasting was lost in translation, but we eventually found each other and were able to enjoy a few samples as Paulo discussed the brewing culture in Brazil with the burning passion of a thousand suns, if those suns drank beer and spoke in excited, broken English.
I learned that “Bodebrown” got its name from combining “bode,” the Portuguese word for “goat,” and either the English word for the color brown or the last name of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. I’ll stick with the latter explanation that Paulo gave.
He also explained that though InBev “was everywhere, everywhere in Brazil,” similar to the presence it maintains in the States, “lots of microbrews are in my country.” “First, you will find a lot of German Pilsens because most breweries are afraid of the Reinheitsgebot,” he said as he made a chopping motion with his non-beer holding hand.
After providing a little more background on the beer in Brazil, Paulo pulled out a deck of Brazilian beer cards from his backpack and discussed every single beer with me. Finding a few IPA cards, he stated, “I’m glad we have India Pale Ales in Brazil, but they are nothing like American IPAs. I love the hops.” This was clear from the bottles he purchased to take back home and his tweets about his purchases, thanks again to Google Translate. “Mikkeller 1000 IBUs, so even one thousand ibus, a brave face?”
I could have listened to Paulo talk for hours about Brazilian beer, a subject that was relatively foreign to me until I read Randy Mosher’s Beyond Brahma a few months ago, which happened to be published in All About Beer Magazine. But after a few more samples at the bottle shop, Paulo ended my Brazilian beer lesson by telling me how much it meant to him, Bodebrown and his country to have been on the cover of the November 2011 issue. He said that it was his local community that was especially proud to see the brewery pictured. “It meant a lot to us.”
I saw Paulo the next night at a reception before the rare beer event and at the rare beer event itself the next day. On both occasions, a smile never left his face as he took pictures of the Cervejaria Bodebrown sign above his booth and enthusiastically poured his beers while telling anyone willing to lend an ear everything they wanted to know about his beer, his brewery and the brewing culutre in his country.
It was inspiring to observe Paulo experience the thriving beer culture of America, in addition to the local brewing community, and his sense of wonder and awe every time he tried another beer unlike anything he could find in Brazil, some that we often take for granted, was a breath of fresh air. Instead of worrying about missing out on a bottle of the latest, greatest barrel-aged something or other, or finding the freshest tap in town with the hop bomb de jour, he reminded me that it’s all just beer.
And, along with whom you’re sharing it, that’s all that matters. Perhaps Paulo said it best in a tweet about our night in the bottle shop last week. “With Win Bassett taking a few beers and talking about the beers in Brazil.”
When’s the last time you simply bebeu algumas cervejas e falou sobre a cerveja?