Portugal, and more specifically Lisbon, was back in the days the first independent trip for Mr. Fries. 18 years old, no parents, no school. Just 2 undergrad students (with a friend) on a journey through a very pleasant country. 2006 seems like decades ago, probably even more in retrospect of the Portuguese craft beer scene. Portuguese beer anno 2006 meant chugging a cold Sagres or Superbock with some grilled bacalhau, squid or other delicious seafood.
10 years later on a small trip with Ms. Rice, the delicious seafood is still very much present (also wines and port wines), yet craft breweries have been popping up across the cobble stone street of Portugal’s capital. After the traditional sightseeing of all different districts of Lisboa, we started our little exploration for Portuguese best crafts.
Lucky first one – Villa Iolanda Double IPA
Our first run into a true gem was accidentally during some sort of local merchants market on Baixa’s Praça da Figueira. People were selling cheese, olives, local wines and plates warm and cold meat cuts. We were looking for something refreshing to match our lunch, yet better than another Sagres (no offence). One small open bar had a nice offer of 3 lisbon crafts. We chose Villa Iolanda of the brewery Oitava Colina. This brewery is located in the heart of Lisbon, in the old Graca neighbourhood and started brewing in 2015. We tried to visit them the day after, but unfortunately, they were closed. Vila Iolanda was a limited edition double IPA and tasted quite nice with notes of citrus and raisins, bitter, but not overly hoppy.
What struck us the most was the beautiful label, displaying one of Lisbon’s most famous attractions: tram 28. We were destined to take this bottle back home for our bottle collection, which led us to sneaking it through airport security on our return to Belgium (only travelling with hand luggage).
Travessa da Pereira nº16 A, arm. 5
Treasures at Zymology Craft Beer shop
Upon our return to our room, we were randomly walking through the streets of Bairro Alto. Not so far from Praça Luis de Camoes, we stumbled upon the Zymology Craft Beer shop. At first, the shop look closed (just a note on the door with a telephone number), but after some light banging on the door, a friendly Portuguese lady come to open. The bottle has a superb selection of both Portuguese and imported craft beers. Mean Sardine, Letra, Oitava Colina, Dois Corvos, Passarola, … on the one hand, and some nice imports (Struise Brouwers, De Molen, Brewdog, The Kernel, …) on the other hand.
The true treasures were laying in a specific wine cooler of the shop’s owner, Rolim, with some limited bottles of Cantillon, 3 Fonteinen, … presumably for private use only. Besides owning the shop, Rolim is also the master brewer at Mean Sardine Brewery and takes one of the leading roles in the Portuguese craft beer scene. A nice occasion to try his Mean Sardine Voragem, poured by the creator himself. This Black IPA has a blended taste of notes of chocolate, pine and grapefruit followed by a long-lived, nicely roasted malt bitter finish.
At the moment of visiting (June 2016), a tap room with approx. 10+ was being installed which gives the shop an even bigger added value, and it fits right in the atmosphere. Beer tastings by beer sommeliers are also organised on a timely basis, so beer lovers can get to know more about the different Portuguese and foreign craft beers.
Zymology Craft Beer shop
Rua das Chagas 31,33
Opened daily from 2PM-7PM, Sundays closed
Off the beaten path at Cerveteca
The only craft beer location we actually researched before starting our mini trip to Portugal, was craft beer bar Cerveteca. It was only a 10 minutes walk from our room. Cerveteca Lisboa is located at Praça das Flores, 63, in the Bairro Alto district, just south of the Botanical Garden. For most travelers, this may seem a little out of the way of most tourist attractions, but it’s most certainly worth the walk through Lisbon’s swindling streets.
The interior of the bar is minimalist, yet comfortable, giving you the feeling just being a friend’s place, sharing a beer on a sunny afternoon or lazy evening: a feeling of home. The 6-pager menu of craft beers is showcased on one side of the bar, partially cooled. Cerveteca has by far the largest selection of craft beers in Portugal. Though not always budget friendly, the true craft beer craving beer lover / beer geek will always find a new gem to choose from.
THE main attraction point is the selection of draft beers. There are usually 10-12 beers available, representing a nice mix between Portuguese and other European/American craft beers. The tap list will be updated on a frequent basis, and there’s are some interesting tap takeover (more info on Cerveteca’s website). We selected a flight of 5 draft beers: Bolina Pilsner, Passarola Chindogu IPA, Dugges Tropic Thunder Sour Ale, Flying Dog Gonzo Porter, AleSmith Speedway Stout (superb American Imperial Stout!).
Wishing to find something new on the block? Taking your friends out for an exploration of new craft beers? Take that walk throughout the city and go for a beer and a chat at Cerveteca.
Praça das Flores 62,
Opened daily from 3.30PM-1AM, Fridays and Saturdays until 2AM
Portuguese crafts only – Duque Brewpub
On the second night out, we made it to the borders of Baixa and Bairro Alto, climbing cobblestone streets, to arrive at Duque Brewpub. Since its opening in February of this year, the concept of the city’s first microbrewery has been very simple, yet very promising: exclusively serving local beers.
Next to their outstanding selection of bottles, Duque holds 10 taps where Portuguese breweries are represented, covering a wide range of styles including offerings from their on-site microbrewery, Cerveja Aroeira. One of the brewers, Pedro, was proud to explain the different recipes and styles they’ve already tried, while showing Duque’s brewing equipment.
With classical 80s pop songs playing in the background, we choose a flight of 5 Portuguese crafts: Aroeira La Javarde Pale Ale, Dois Corvos Finisterra Imperial Porter, Passarola Double Oatmeal Stout, Dois Corvos Rosa Vicosa Raspberry Sour and Letra D Red Ale. Even though the Raspberry sour wasn’t really our thing (compared to some Belgian Sour ales), the Finisterra Imperial Porter was worthwhile, with flavours of roasted malt bitterness, coffee and bitter licorice. Aroeira’s La Javarde was a perfect refreshing end of an exploration of Portugal’s vibrant and evolving craft beer movement.
Alçada do Duque 51,
Opened daily from 3PM-12PM, Fridays and Saturdays until 2AM