No beer revolution, that is.
A few days in Lisbon shows that the beer scene has not changed significantly over the last decades. This is a country that can be proud of its culinary level. You have all the rustic fish dishes such as salted cod and grilled sardines. There is splendid pork, veal and beef. The port industry has new products in addition to the more dusty vintages. (Pity that the Port Wine Institute was closed for refurbishment on the night we planned to visit).
It’s getting more modern, though. There used to be a street in Lisbon where they only sold bachalao or salted cod. Now you have the same splendid range in the supermarkets, alongside artisanal cheese and ham. The table wines are reinvented, too, from the crisp Viho Verdes to long lists of quality reds.
A visit to a hypermarket shows that the beer range is not up to the standards of the other food and drink. Loads of pale lagers, a few dark lagers, dry and sweet. A handful of imports – amazing to see that BrewDog has market penetration here, too.
The bars and restaurants have a lager or two on tap, while the wine lists are from tempting to amazing.
The major brands seem to have a dunkel or two plus a stout. This means a Sagres Stout, a Super Bock Stout and so on. I doubt that these are true top fermented beers, but if we are to be open-minded, milk stouts is perhaps the nearest category.
The Super Bock Stout is available on tap at the British Bar, located at one of the squares between the river and the Bairro Alto. It is fairly decent on tap, although it’s not something to get wildly exited about. If you find the domestic beers too boring, the same bar offers a range of Belgians plus a fair selection of bottled Samuel Smith beers. A welcome oasis if you are staying for an extended time, I suppose.
There are several chains of beer themed restaurants across Lisbon and the rest of Portugal. Time to look into them in the next installment.