Our image of Brazil is exotic, tropical, and utterly wild, but there is a good deal more to this huge and varied country. There is jungle, but there is lots of rich agricultural land. It snows in the South. The world’s second largest Oktoberfest is held in Blumenau. Despite abundant poverty, there is a large and growing middle class, and amidst the exotic vegetation, much of Brazil looks very familiar to us: jobs, traffic, shopping, neighborhoods, and Internet cafés.
It’s no surprise that macrobrew, mostly from one giant company, dominates the beer landscape with its rather bland and lip-numbingly cold offerings.
But what about the beer? Well, this is the country that brought us the world’s largest brewing company, as Brahma and Antarctica merged to form AmBev, which acquired InterBrew to become InBev, which then swallowed up Anheuser-Busch to become AB InBev. Burp.
So it’s no surprise that macrobrew, mostly from this one giant company, dominates the beer landscape with its rather bland and lip-numbingly cold offerings. But with the flood of information from the Internet, the resources to travel abroad and the trickle of quality imports reaching the specialty bars and stores, Brazilian drinkers are starting to realize that they’re missing out on something very enjoyable.
Changing of the Guard
In a story that is repeated all over the developing world, the country is shaking off decades of totalitarian rule and financial meltdowns. With the World Cup and Olympics coming, Brazil is feeling especially frisky at the moment. There is a very optimistic mood about the place, and people at all levels are working very hard to make things better any way they can. That includes beer.
Craft brewing began here in the mid 1990s, but this first wave was rather timid, mostly quite Teutonic; often with actual Germans doing the brewing. The typical first-wave Brazilian craft beer is a 5 percent all-malt pils with a light body and a very moderate 12 to 18 IBUs, with the occasional wheat or dark beer in the mix—tasty enough, but just a baby step towards what we would call real craft beer.