Brazilian beer offers by far and away the largest beer selection we’ve found in South America. Brazilian beer is easy to order, easy to shop for, and very easy to drink day and night.
South America isn’t known for draft beer, but at local botecos, beach-side bars, and restaurants here in Rio, cerveja chopp (draft beer) flows freer and cheaper than water (which is always bottled, never tap). Local beer geeks refer to this mass-produced chopp as BCB (brazilian corn beer). On a hot day at the beach you honestly don’t need much else. But when the sun sets, we’ve enjoyed discovering the more serious side of Brazilian beer. Rio’s stores carry lots of of favourite European imports (Triple Karmeliet is always a site for sore eyes), but Brazilian beer has made a definite name for itself with some worthy nationals.
Brazilian Beer — 5 Brazilian Breweries You Should Know About
Brazilian beer makers maintain a love affair with German style beers. Almost all the major breweries adhere to The German Beer Purity Law and several have outfitted themselves with German names. There are also some decent IPAs. And some brewers are experimenting with uniquely Brazilian ingredients and flavour twists.
The five Brazilian beers below are easy to find in Rio, and hopefully at a beer shop near you.
1. Colorado – Indica Indian Pale Ale 7%
Cervejaria Colorado | Ribeirão Preto, Saõ Paolo, Brazil
Cervejaria Colorado has been the darling of Brazil’s craft brew world for going on two decades. It has a strong presence on Rio’s grocery shelves and we were drawn to the label (hello English) and of course Cliff to the Indica IPA in particular. Cervejaria Colorado prides itself on incorporating unique Brazilian ingredients like coffee, honey, and brazil nuts in its brews. They also donate 500 liters of chopp to a worthy cause each month.
Colorado’s Indica IPA has a nice amber color, mild earthy hops with a flowery aroma, and a hint of caramelized sugar from rapadura—candy-like cane sugar from North Eastern Brazil. It’s a really tasty brew. At 7% it’s more of a drinker’s beer than a beach refresher.
2. Devassa – Tropical Red Ale 4.8%
Cervejaria Devassa | Country-wide, Brazil
Devessa the most prominent “craft” brew Brazilian beer. You’ll find it at restaurants and bars across Rio as well as at any decently stocked grocery or corner store. We first discovered Devassa Negra (Tropical Dark) at a restaurant.
Originally brewed in the Ipanema neighbourhood in Rio, Devassa sold to the third largest producer of Brazilian beer, Brasil Kirin, in 2007. Since then they’ve promoted their beers with the like of Paris Hilton and Playboy—a pretty definitive sign that they’ve outgrown their craft brew britches.
Devassa’s Tropical Red Ale is a pretty copper colour. It has mild hoppy taste and a bitter finish. It’s a slight step-up from a BCB and costs about the same as the big supermarket brands, but we wouldn’t serve it at our bar.
3. Baden Baden – Red Ale 9.2%
Also produced by Brasil Kirin, Baden Baden maintains more of a craft brew edge and is one of the most acclaimed Brazilian beer labels.
In 1999, four friends started the brewery in the small town of Campos do Jordao, almost 2000m above sea level. Baden Baden’s German style beers benefit from a base of mountain spring water. Since 2008 they’ve been winning awards and keeping it real by using the best methods and ingredients available in Brazil.
We really enjoyed their Red Ale. After months of South America lagers, its deep mahogany color and obvious malt were welcome strangers. It’s both bitter and sweet which masks the high alcohol content. This is one Brazilian beer you don’t want to drink ice-cold.
4. Eisenbahn – Pilsen 4.8%
Eisenbahn | Blemenau, Santa Catarina, Brazil
Eisenbahn is (obviously) a German style Brazilian beer maker from the German sounding town of Blemenau in Santa Catarina, Brazil. Even though it’s small, the brewery has won several awards in South America as well as a handful in Europe. Eisenbahn’s extensive lineup can be found at almost any grocery store in Rio, and we’ll definitely try a few more styles.
We tried their solid classic Pilsen. Its golden clear, but still has decent head. This is a super-easy drinking beer, and is definitely a step above the BCB beers served up and down Rio’s beaches.
5. Karavelle – Indian Pale Ale 7.5%
Karavelle | Indaiatube, Brazil
Karavelle is an independently owned and operated brewery that prides itself on seeking out and using the best possible Brazilian beer ingredients. As the name suggests, they brew in the German style. They also make a magnificent Indian Pale Ale that we really enjoyed.
Karavelle IPA is a beautiful amber color with a solid head. It has a hop-forward and fruity aroma. Malt and bitter hops persist throughout. This IPA is closest to the kind of hoppy Californian IPAs popular at home.