I knew there were Portuguese craft breweries. They have Facebook pages. They are in the ratebeer data base. But they all seem to be located between Lisbon and Porto.
And I was nowhere near Lisbon or Porto, but on the southern Algarve coast. There was nothing in the immediate area, so I had to cast my net a bit wider.
An exchange of e-mails with the Mean Sardine brewery informed me that they had only one outlet in the south, a place called Algarve and friends in the town of Alvor. I tried to google this establishment, but with no result.
Anyway. I needed to rest my skin a bit from the sun, and Alvor was just 40 minutes away on an air conditioned bus. If I did not find the place, I could surely have lunch there before returning.
Alvor seemed like a fairly typical holiday resort, quiet at midday, but offering plenty of options in the evening. When the bus approached the town, a banner proclaimed the All day 90 cent pint, while a more classy place across the road was charging a Euro. A brief survey revealed a fair number of Irish pubs with and without resident troubadours.
After a stroll through town I found the Praca de Republica, and Algarve and company turned out to be a cafe/delicatessen, promoting craft produce. Cheese, sausages, wine, honey, tinned tuna and sardines … and a number of beers.
Nuno Miguel Vieira Dos Santos runs the shop. I tell him that I tried to look it up on the web. He apologizes, and tells me the reason is that he has been far to busy. He actually opened the same week I visited. That also explains why there is a steady traffic of people with various foodstuff, handing over samples for him to try out.
I try an amber ale from Sovina. Hazy amber, lively carbonation. Malty aroma, some funk and barnyard, Belgian yeast character. Cereals and sweetness, very pleasant.
My lunch is a plate of assorted cheeses and cured sausages, which are all very good. Some are chorizo-style with paprika, but the pepper is not very strong. I get an extra side dish of two types of blood sausage, one of them made with rice. A rich sweetness which show how honest food does not need to taste of more than its ingredients. With this I try a Mean Sardine Amura, an American pale ale. This is clear amber, with a fluffy head and a flowery aroma. The flavor is bittersweet. Malt and bitter herbs, some eucalyptus. Well crafted, by no means extreme.
I fill my backpack with sea salt, honey, almond cakes, beer, tinned sardines and anchovies.
Surely a place to return to. Easy to find, across the street from the Alvor tourist office.
If you want to explore the wonderful world of Portuguese craft beer further, here is a list of Cerveja Artesanal Portuguesa.