Buckets loaded with ice-encrusted bottles, or chopes served colder than cold: whichever way you prefer it, there are few more classic paulistano ways to spend a sunny afternoon than sitting outside, sipping the national drink: beer.
Made to suit both the weather and the country’s mood, that beer is usually light. But São Paulo, hot on the heels of an international trend, has been developing a taste for ales, porters, IPAs and stouts too, brewed in microbreweries across the country. The result: hundreds of complex, interesting craft beers finding their way into bars across the city.
No beer travels a shorter distance from vat to glass than at the Cervejaria Nacional in Pinheiros, where a two-level modern bar and restaurant sit atop a miniature brewery which produces five original beers.
‘I got into home brewing as a hobby over ten years ago,’ says the cervejaria’s financier-turned-brewer, Luis Fabiani. ‘I started selling my beer on the side to a few bars and festivals before finally deciding to open my own place. It’s still relatively new here in Brazil, but there has been a huge increase in the number of artisanal breweries in the past few years.’
|Cervejaria Ô Fiô
For a far wider selection, you’ll be spoilt for choice at Cervejaria Ô Fiô, in Morumbi. Head to the pleasant outdoor patio and peruse hundreds of Brazilian beers on the menu, which is divided by region, with over 25 beers from São Paulo state alone.
Back up in Pinheiros, at the shop-cum-restaurant Empório Alto dos Pinheiros, customers take their favourite bottled brews from the expansive shop to drink at the restaurant tables outside on the quiet, leafy street. An ever-changing selection of chopes are available on tap too, marked up on the board behind the bar. Stop by on a Saturday afternoon and you’re likely to catch Paulo, the pony-tailed owner, enjoying the international beer offerings alongside his customers.
The trail for people like him was blazed in 1987 by the bar Frangó, in the northern suburb of Freguesia do Ó, whose hefty beer menu regularly wins awards and draws faithful crowds from all over the city. Just ask José Manuel Teixeira, owner of the impossibly charming Empório Laura Aguiar in Santana: ‘We started out serving cachaça, which has long had a culture of connoisseurship here.
But after we saw the press that Frangó got, we expanded our beer selection too, and there’s been a huge response.’ Although too far off the beaten path to draw foreigners and chic Jardins-types, the Empório buzzes with a local crowd of regulars, and visitors will be rewarded with a warm welcome and the chance to try beers such as the strong golden ale (8.5%) or the Dunkel (4.8%), from Santa Catarina.
Without a doubt, the growing number of microbreweries in Brazil, and the variety of beers that they produce, spell good times ahead for beer-lovers looking for an antidote to the bland offerings of the big brewers. ‘People are experimenting with hops and recipes, and beginning to use more Brazilian ingredients,’ says Fabiani of Cervejaria Nacional.
Cervejaria Nacional is at Rua Pedroso de Morais 604, Pinheiros (3628 5000/ cervejarianacional.com.br). Read more on Cervejaria Nacional
Cervejaria Ô Fiô is at Rua Lício Marcondes Amaral 51, Morumbi (3721 6636/ cervejariaofio.com.br). Read more on Cervejaria Ô Fio
Empório Alto dos Pinheiros is at Rua Vupabussu 305, Pinheiros (3031 4328/ altodospinheiros.com.br).
Empório Laura Aguiar is at Rua Doutor Gabriel Piza 559, Santana (2977 0471/ emporiolauraaguiar.blogspot.com).
Frangó is at Largo da Matriz de Nossa Senhora do Ó, 168, Freguesia do Ó (3931 4281/ frangobar.com.br). Read more on Frangó