Beer Walking in Lisbon

While walking around Lisbon (or any other city for that matter) I figured that there were some good beer culture experiences to be found. I was not disappointed. Lisbon is an attractive place with alot of charm (you can read about my impressions of Lisbon here) but my guess is that not many people think there is much beer culture there. I found out that there is interesting beer history and a small but enthusiastic craft beer community if you take the time to find it

Asking around at the visitor center and with my landlord elicited blank stares, so I had to piece together what I learned about the places to go by asking at each of the places I visited. I eventually made my own map (below) to start figuring out where I should visit and how to get in some urban hikes in the process. I used the subway and the bus to get within walking distance of a couple of the outliers, but generally the trip between the others provided pleasant and scenic walks.

click for interactive map in Google Maps — https://drive.google.com/open?id=1roovM_hYfrzJ_5ehVL0fg2yXrbQ&usp=sharing
Cerveja e Tremoço — a black lager served with the traditional bar snack of Tremoço (brined Lupino beans). Tremoço is a great snack to accompany a beer.
The old Portugalia Brewery is mostly in ruins although there is an attractive beer hall, micro-brewery, and restaurant connected to the old structure. I was told that there is discussion of rebuilding on the old brewery site.
Portugalia is owned by one of the big Portuguese breweries, Sagres so they get little respect from the craft brew folks I talked to. I thought the black lager was pretty nice!
Futbol in the beer hall — the beer hall, nearly 100 years old, was originally a place for customers to hang out and have a snack and a beer while they were waiting for their barrels to be filled next door at the brewery.
The microbrewery is behind glass off one side of the dining room.
Beer ice cream was a rich, creamy, malty treat.
Walking down the street I came across a self-service, coin-operated draft beer dispenser. Who would’ve thunk it?
Beer events that I just missed being there for.
Duque brewpub both brews their own beers as well as serves craft beers from a variety of other breweries. The beer tender was very helpful, informed, and informative.
Duque’s own brews are labeled as Cerveja Aroeira — they had five “house” beers and four guest taps when I visited.
As I understood it, it is quite difficult to get a permit allowing a brewery operation in Lisbon. The Duque guy told me that their operation was grandfathered in by virtue of being an historic brewery location.
Duque is located on a landing along a steep pedestrian way.
Trinidade Brewery is just around the corner from Duque. As I understand it, it is a relic of beer culture in the city rather than any kind of operating brewery. It was established in 1836 on the site of a former monastery. It became the Portuguese royal brewery in 1854.
Trinidade’s old beer hall is now a restaurant that has a strong, historic feel. It is operated by the same company that operates Portugalia.
A few doors down I discovered one of those quirky beer culture finds that I love so much — O Purista Barbiere is a barber shop that serves beer while you wait your turn for a shave or a trim. Totally civilized.
They do not serve their own beer (probably a good idea) — they serve a Belgian blonde ale called Affligem.
The Beer Station is a craft beer shop and tap room down the hill near Rossio Square. The shop has both inside seating and an expansive patio.
They had the biggest variety of bottled craft beers I saw in Lisbon as well as some draft selections.
Maria the beertendress had a wonderful personality and took great care of me. When I asked her what she thought the best craft beer she had in the shop was she did not hesitate to suggest a Maldita barleywine.
I am not familiar with what a barleywine is, and if I understood correctly “maldita” translates to “damn” or “bitch”, but after the glowing recommendation I had no other choice. Maldita is brewed by Faustino Microcervejeira, a brewery in Aveiro.
So talented she pours with her eyes closed!
Barleywine is a dense brew that goes back to the time of the Vikings. Maldita had a carmely character, a nice smooth texture, and is nicely hopped. It is pretty strong at 9% abv.
Trying out the draft selections of the day
The Dois Corvos (two crows) brewery and tap room is a bit of a haul from the center city so I used the subway to get get closer and the bus to come back. The bus reduces the walk to almost nothing. The taproom doesn’t open until 2pm so make this an afternoon stop. As I understood it, this brewery was put together by an American ex-pat.
All of the brewery taprooms I visited seem to embrace interchange with each other — a variety of guest taps were the rule rather than the exception.
8a Colina (eighth hill) Brewery has no on premises taproom and no prominent sign. It resides in a nondescript industrial courtyard on one of Lisbon’s hilltops.
I did not know before coming that this isn’t a place where they are set up to receive walk-in visitors, so I was pleased to be welcomed for an impromptu look around, conversation, and sampling. The brewmaster, Fernando Gonçalves is obviously passionate about his work and he gave me a few leads. He told me that there has been an enthusiastic home brewing community in Lisbon for quite some time and that some local craft breweries have come from there. Others have come from ex-pats who have seen opportunity in Lisbon. Fernando suggested that I come by LisBeer later in the day where he would be part of a panel judging a homebrew competition.
Things are hopping on the eighth hill.
plastic kegs
I found 8a Colina’s beers at quite a few outlets in the city. Their Joe da Silva American Pale Ale ended up being my favorite of their beers (and a favorite among all the Lisbon beers that I was able to try).
LisBeer is in the old part of the city in an alcove with alot of character.
LisBeer is a tap room in a cellar-like, relaxed setting (lots of couches and easy chairs). They feature not only Portuguese craft beers but also quite a few imports — alot of Beligian beers here. It is one of the places that just about everyone brought up when I asked them about where I should be walking to in Lisbon.
The judging for the home brew competition was well under way when I arrived.
8a Colinas Florinda Lager at LisBeer
Another tap room that specializes in craft brews is Cerveteca Lisboa. They were frequently recommended as the place in Lisbon for beer geeks and they offer a large variety of draft and bottled beers (as well as food). There are twelve taps that rotate offerings frequently. I went there at night and had a little difficulty finding it — maybe it was the beers. (image by Kirill Melnick)
This cool paddleboard displays the current draft beers on tap at Chimera Brewpub. Chimera is another destination where the bus comes in handy for getting within walking range. As I understood it, this place is operated by an American ex-pat and his wife. Their food menu includes Chicago and New York style hot dogs and Wisconsin brats. They have twelve taps offering a mix of their own brews and guest taps from other craft brewers. The facility is unique having been built into an old underground coachway. (image by Natalia Perazzo)

One other walkable craft brewery I expected to visit was LX Brewery. Try as I might, I was not able to find their place. As I understand it, they were in the process of moving their location at the time of my visit. I did finally get in touch with someone there who offered to get together but I was out of time by then so I missed that one. The location shown on the map for them is their current location, I think.

The Lisbon Beer Museum is located in the Plaza del Comércio.

The Museum of Beer is a snazzy, modern place with displays that I found interesting. On the ground floor is a restaurant where I was greeted and given a glass of beer to carry on my way upstairs into the galleries. The entry fee was 3.50 euro. The stated mission of the museum is to tell the story of beer in Portuguese speaking countries including Portugal, Angola, Brazil, Mozambique, Cape Verde, Saint Tomé and Prince, Guinea-Bissau.

Notably absent was any information about or discussion of the current day craft brewery movement. I asked the attendant about this and they seemed to draw a blank. They got their manager who I described my adventures to. He told me that the museum is looking into adding content to speak to what is going on with craft breweries and I told him I thought it would be a great addition.

So what did I learn about the history of beer culture here? The first mention of beer in recorded history of the area goes back to the 1st century when the region was known as Lusitania. Beer was said to be an everyday drink while wine was reserved for more special occasions.

Over the centuries, wine became more common. In the 1600’s, wine producing interests were successful in getting King Peter II to outlaw beer consumption (except by foreigners) and in 1710 King John V outlawed importation of beer. The import ban lasted through the 18th century.

Tensions with wine producers apparently eased enough in the 1800’s that demand for beer increased and a handful of breweries began growing. With the growth, know-how was imported from Germany and other countries and the modern beer industry in Portugal began to take shape.

From the 1930’s to the 1960’s was a period of brewery consolidation that produced the two major mass market brands that exist in Portugal today — Super Bock (UNICER União Cervejeira S.A.) and Sagres (Sociedade Central de Cervejas, now owned by Heineken). Each produces a flagship macro-lager as well as some variations including wheat beers, dark beers, and the like.

I enjoyed all of the beers I experienced in my walk-arounds. As can be expected, it wasn’t uncommon to meet craft beer enthusiasts who I sense wouldn’t touch the mass market products but I tend to be less a purist. That said, I greatly enjoyed the energy and enthusiasm of the craft beer types that I met as well as the many excellent craft beers.


Originally published at primepassages.com on February 24, 2017.