Breers of Bazil

Brahma

It’s testament to the power and skill of marketing and PR (Lu, are you reading this??) that Brahma sells well in trendy London bars where it is positioned as a premium and exotic lager. It’s awful. Brahma is one of the big four beers in Brazil and is a pale, watery colour with a pale and watery taste. It leaves an unpleasant aftertaste of cereal residue in the mouth, which means it isn’t even as ‘refreshing’ as a lot of boring beers claim they are.

3/10

(Brahma bottle is the same as the Chopp version below, but without the word ‘Chopp’)

Brahma Chopp

Chopp is what the Brazilian’s call draught beer, and as Brahma seems to dominate the chopp market they released this ‘draught style’ beer in a bottle, which is 5% instead of 4.7%. However the difference in quality between the normal Brahma and the chopp is marginal. But Brahma Chopp is preferable in a bottle to draught, as when served as a draught in one of the posher Chopperias they often shake the glass about as it’s poured to give it a huge thick and creamy head, so that instead of a large, fizzy, bland beer you get a small, flat, bland beer.

3/10

The non-chopp variety doesn't have the word Chopp on the label

Skol

Skol is Brazil’s best-selling beer, and its origins are indeed from the same cheapo lager as advertised in the eighties by a Hagar The Horrible. Skol was a collaboration by four large European breweries (one being British) who aimed to create a global beer brand, and whilst Skol has slipped off the radar in Europe in recent years, it has taken off in Brazil where they now brew it and consider it a Brazilian beer.  It’s a passable beer, but a straight-down-the-middle boring one.

4/10

Kaiser

Pokes it head just above average, and has two emblems for beer award medals on the can, but they use the old trick of printing the medals so badly they’re completely incomprehensible and are probably for ‘Kaiser Beer of the Year’ awards.

5/10

Black Princess Gold

Well is the princess black or gold? The beer is nearer gold, and is a malty number and slightly sweeter than necessary. A full-bodied and smooth beer, a bit too sweet for my liking, but not too bad.

5/10

Black Princess

The original of these two, this seems even maltier and sweeter. Also full bodied, it lacks the smooth roundness of its posher sister beer, but isn’t much worse. I wouldn’t want to have more than one of these in an evening.

5/10

Bohemia                                                                                                                                                                                       

When tasted against Brahma or Antarctica, this does stand out as a better beer. It has some malty and hoppy flavours, and a crisp bitter middle. Understandably costs a little more than the others.

6/10

Itaipava

Another of the Big Four, this is marginally better than Skol and Brahma, but still miles off a genuine pilsner taste. It doesn’t leave the nasty residue aftertaste of Brahma, and is crisp and refreshing without being as watery as the other two.

5/10

Brahma Maltzbier

This is a foul beer.  More like Brahma Sugar-bier. This is Brahma’s attempt at a dark malty porter-type beer, but it’s just sickly sweet, and has more in common with flat Coke than a porter or a stout. Diabetics should avoid – as should everyone really.

2/10

Brahma Black

Better than its malty relative, this one is surprisingly bland and watery for a dark beer. There is a tickle of nutty burnt flavours, but it is lacking in body and flavour.

4/10

Serramalte

Another malt special, they seem to like their malt specials the Brazilian. Serramalte is certainly malty – to the point that it tastes a little like that Caribbean malt drink that you get at Notting Hill Carnival. It’s overly sweet, but is quite well rounded and smooth, but it could get a bit much after one.

5/10

Devassa

Considered by some as Brazil’s best beer, for some reason. Another attempt at a pilsner style beer that once again falls short. I believe the argument for these tasteless beers is that in this hot and humid tropical climate no other kind of beer would do – only maximum refreshment will work here. There may be a tiny element of truth in this, as a warmer pint of flat, dark, strong and sweet English winter ale just wouldn’t cut the mustard in Brazil, and we’ve been temporarily fooled immediately after a hard and hot day’s trekking, when an ice-cold Skol manages to taste like the nicest beer in the world for five minutes. But an ice-cold glass of fizzy water would have the same refreshing effect. And the Filipinos have just as hot a climate and drink San Mig, a beer with refreshing qualities and bags of flavour, so that argument doesn’t wash.

5/10

Skol 360

Skol have tried to produce a beer that reduces bloating, in the style of Cobra. The result is a beer that just tastes like Skol but after having been shaken up a bit so that it’s a tad flat.

3/10

Antarctica

The final of the Big Four, Antarctica made a big marketing effort during Carnival, positioning itself as the ‘fun’ and cool beer. However this is just another straw-coloured and characterless lager, which along with most of Brazil’s beers, claims to be a Pilsner. However the Urquell brewers of Pils in the Czech Republic would probably consider this about as close to a pilsner as Tizer.

4/10

Caracu

Lucy is the bigger fan of dark beers than I, and she liked this one. It’s certainly the pick of the dark beers to date, and it carries a decent full-bodied bitter-sweet burnt and nutty flavour. Still a bit sweet for my liking, but not too bad.

5/10

Kalena

I’ve only spotted this in one bar, but it deserves wider recognition. A well-balanced pilsner that comes close to actually tasting like one. Hoppy and yeasty, with a brief bitterness – very nice.

7/10

Bavaria Premium

This is a tastier improvement on the standard Bavaria, and is rather good. With extra malt infusions, and a greater hoppy taste, there are also slight floral notes if you really concentrate.

7/10

Summer Draught

The most interesting thing about Summer Draught is its design and marketing. It’s modelled on a Mexican beer – pale and bland with a clear bottle, and in desperate need of a chunk of lime to give it some taste – and its label is branded like an alcopop to appeal to the beach-loving Brazil yoof. As Brazilian bland beers go, this leaves no nasty taste, and slips down like fizzy water.

4/10

Itaipava Maltzbier

Itaipava have also done a malt special, but again it’s overly sweet, lacking body and missing the rich nuttiness of good dark beers. An Improvement on Brahma’s attempts though.

4/10

Backer

This is an ‘artisan’ Brazilian beer brewed near Belo Horizonte and is very tasty. Again malt is the dominating flavour, but they have shown you can make a malty beer without it being a glupey sugary brown beer. This has yeasty, biscuit and nutty notes too, and is a premium beer on promotion in chopp form and so a bargain too. Potential winner!

8/10

Original – Antarctica

Known just as Original, the design of the label might suggest this is what Antarctica used brew in the old days before they removed all traces of flavour for their newer beer aimed at youngsters (above). This is a decent beer, crisp and flavoursome with a bitter twinge.

6/10


Brahma Extra

An attempt at a premium beer, with all the gold labelling and frilling lettering necessary and promises of extra special ingredients, but the only things extra about this is the cost and the magnitude of disappointment. Just another plain lager. Brahma can’t seem to get anything right.

4/10

 

BEERS OF BRAZIL GRAND TOTAL AVERAGE SCORE OUT OF TEN: 4.7



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