Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina.


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Urraca Vendaval IPA from Oitava Colina is a dark amber cloudy beer. A sour fruity aroma with some citrus. Up front a green malty citrus. Full bodied with that sort of cotton candy tangy sweetness that makes the mouth feel a bit gummy. Quite boozy and resinous with juniper and pine. Not much citrus to finish, more herbal.

Oitava Colina means 8th Hill. This is in reference to Lisbon (or Lisboa) which is built on seven hills. This refers to the magical (?) 8th hill. I am sure the people of Lisboa would find the name more meaningful in much the same way the names of some British micro breweries and beers only have significance for local consumers.

The bottle had a little story on the back that kind of, but not really, explained the name. Urraca is basically a sort of fictional character that describes the beer. All of their main beers adhere to this theme. It is an interesting branding exercise I suppose. To give your beers such strong personalities that they actually become people. BEER IS PEOPLE!!!!!

ahem...

Unfortunately I am not fluent in Portuguese and the English translation on the bottle was not great. I am pretty sure some of the meaning was lost to Google Translate. But the heading does literally translate to "Who's your beer?" According to the label, Urraca is a strong, resilient, and very bitter queenly character. It contains "a gale of citric and fruity aromas".

Yes we are still in Portugal today! Want to know more about the new craft beer industry in Portugal and what to expect when you visit then check out my previous post.

Help support me. Buy a silly craft beer T-Shirt.


The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Amura from Mean Sardine

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Amura from Mean Sardine
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Amura from Mean Sardine.

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Amura American IPA from Mean Sardine. Cloudy dark honey colour. Citrus grapefruit aromas with some fragrant floral tones. Bitter and fresh right off the bat with the flavours not quite fulfilling the full sweet aromas. In the middle it warms up a bit to reveal tropical hints of lime and passion fruit and guava with resinous rosemary and juniper. Very fresh bitterness finishes with the characteristic cotton candy sweet tang you often get with an AIPA.

It is worth noting that I have been a regular traveller to Portugal for over a decade. Never in all that time was there ever a hint that I might be able to get anything other than imported French lager or big brewer beer. Maybe you would see the odd Belgian bock or dark ale but that would be from Grimbergen or the like.

Apart from my most recent trip in April, the last time I was in Portugal was Christmas 2015 and it was pretty much the same as always that year.

Fast forward to April 2017 and all of a sudden craft beer (made in Portugal) is on grocery store shelves, is being served in specialist bars, and basically having a moment.

In less than two years it's gone from pretty much zero to nearly 50 independent breweries nationwide.

The kind of beers being made vary widely from sweet northern European wit beers to dank American IPAs like this one. The market there has a wider taste than here in the UK with lots of tourists and immigrants from France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany.

Don't get me wrong, you won't be tripping over the stuff but it is definitely there to be found in not so obscure places. Lidl, Aldi, Modelo, Jumbo, and Continente all carry a limited selection of indie beers. Lidl and Aldi are most interesting because they stock sort of end of line stuff and the selection varies daily.

Regular cafes and restaurants don't serve craft beer but there are now specialist bars. I had this one at a tapas place in Silves called Almadina. It is a sort of cavernous wine cellar-y place just up from the main drag on the river. Interestingly they had Presse (tap) as well as Garrafa (bottle) craft beer options. Boheme in Faro also has one or two Presse. But mostly you will be drinking Garrafa if you opt for craft beer. Always served ice cold with a glass. If you do go to Almadina have the mixed starters. Do not, under any circumstances, order the grilled/baked sausage. I am pretty sure it won't be anything like what you were expecting.

This is all in the Algarve which is still a sort of rural economy slash resort destination. Neither the locals nor visitors have particularly sophisticated tastes in beer. Not that you need to be sophisticated to enjoy independently brewed beer. It's just that there is no history there for ales or home beer making. The local preference is for lager and wine. Cheap lager and wine. Many people have land that they chuck some vines on and make their own wine every year. Some of which is delicious. The land and climate are not suited to hops and barley.

Brits park themselves down in Portamao or wherever and chug down Super Bock, Guinness, and Cava. The French drink wine and French imported beers which are cheaper in Portugal than they are at home. Belgians and Dutch do the same.

There are only three craft breweries in the Algarve. Most craft beer comes from Lisbon or Porto with others scattered around the highlands of the Alentejo. But with craft beer becoming more popular in places the tourists come from, the bigger the market for it becomes in their holiday destination. The only problem right now is the price point. People come to Portugal because it is a cheap holiday. Food and drink especially. Throwing down 3 euros for a bottle of beer feels too much like being back home in Paris, London, or Amsterdam. You pay half of that for a good bottle of wine.

It would be interesting to know what the big boys in Portugal think of all this. The likes of Sagres and Super Bock promote heavily by giving local bars furniture, glasses, sun shades etc. If any of these little independent cafes started serving beer brewed by smaller concerns I don't know what would happen to that sort of support. You definitely notice that the craft beer bars lack all this big beer brand paraphernalia.

What do you think? Have you tried any Portuguese craft beer? Is it a revolution or a blip? Join the conversation on twitter @even_star

The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Gyroscope from Opo 74

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Gyroscope from Opo 74
Bem Vindo a Portugal. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Gyroscope from Opo 74.

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Gyroscope IPA from Opo 74 is a cloudy honey coloured IPA. Very floral aromas of honey suckle and orange blossom. Deliciously bitter up front with some of that floral greenness of chrysanthemum and juniper. Once it warms up you get that characteristic cotton candy tang that so many American style IPAs finish with. A full body but refreshing.

I had this beer at one of a very few and NEW bars in Portugal that carry (or even specialise) in Portuguese craft beer. It is called Boheme and is located right on the marina in Faro. It is sort of tacked on to the end of the Alfandaga building next to the old town. It is a tiny little place but packs a lot of craft beer. Some available on tap and most in bottles.

I fear for the future of craft beer in Portugal. In as little as two years it has grown from nothing to nearly 50 breweries competing with the big boys of Sagres, Super Bock, Crystal, and a myriad of other European imports. Beer that is CHEAP. Like we are talking 6 330ml bottles for 3 euros. Or even cheaper! Compare that to the average price of a craft beer there: 3 euros for one 330ml bottle.

I can't think that the locals are going to be having that. Or even the tourists. The problem is the cheapness of regular beer there. It is different in the UK where regular beer is already fairly expensive.

In the UK I can get a pint of lovely craft cask ale for LESS than the price of a pint of horrible premium lager. Off the shelf is a little different but not by much. I can get 4 500ml bottles of decent beer for 6£. If you get 6 330ml bottles of Stella you would pay about the same price. Now if you go for imported craft stuff or special editions from very small breweries then that beer is going to run you 3£ a bottle. But in general decent beer is a comparable price to mass produced.

I just don't think there are enough hipsters in Portugal willing to pay such a HUGE premium on beer. Even if it is more interesting and tastes better than the usual cheaper lager. And although I liked my little beer adventure, I was not drinking craft beer every day I was there. It isn't sold at a quaffable price and in that heat you want something you can quaff!

Help support me. Buy a silly craft beer T-Shirt.


The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing.

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Maldita Porter from Faustino Brewing Co. Is an almost black opaque beer. Fruity coffee aromas. Up front a complex malty bitter sweet flavour. Much coffee and plum fruitiness. There is a pleasant bitter dankness in the middle. Sort of boot polish a farm yard. After warming up a bit there's a lovely strawberry. Surprisingly English!

The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Rubi Lager from Vadia

Portugal Craft Beer Review: Rubi Lager from Vadia bottle
Bem Vindo a Portugal. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Portugal craft beer review is for Rubi Lager from Vadia.

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Rubi from Vadia is a cloudy russet coloured lager. Smells very yeasty and fruity. Up front a fresh bready sweetness that doesn't quite make it to a bitter toastyness. Finishes rather green.

Hey there hop heads! Today is the first in a series of Portugal craft beer reviews.

The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Nottinghamshire Craft Beer Review: Blind Tiger from Springhead

Nottinghamshire Craft Beer Review: Blind Tiger from Springhead real ale pump clip
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Nottinghamshire craft beer review is for Blind Tiger from Springhead.

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From my tasting notes: "Blind Tiger is a clear blonde craft beer. Very light apple aroma. Hoppy and effervescent with almost a dry champagne flavour. Bitter and fruity with Apple and grape flavours as well as some green resinous tones like Juniper and rosemary. A cracking beer!"

And it really was a cracking beer. A fact which I was able to verify a week later when it was still on at the pub and still tasted wonderful!

I wrote my tasting notes when the beer was fresh on and cask beers, being organic and susceptible to the vagaries of handling, oxygen, and temperature, can change quite a bit in the course of the week. The fact that this was did not change that much is a testament to how well beer is managed at our local and also to how well it was made. The brewer understood how the hops and malts would develop over time.

According to the website, whole oranges were added to the batch. I really did not get orange in this a all!

A great cask ale won't change THAT much. The only thing you might notice is a mellowing of any pronounced bitters. So sometimes a fresh beer that is overwhelmingly bitter will actually benefit from not being served for a day or two in order to let that edge dull and allow the more subtle flavours to develop.

If you are wondering about the name, apparently Blind Tiger was the name of a sort of strange Speak Easy in the 1920s. To get around prohibition laws, patrons paid to see a sort of freak show of animal curiosities and "free" booze was handed out.

This beer was formerly sold under the name Maid Marion (yay Nottinghamshire) and was rebranded last year. Nottingham has a LOT of craft brewers and so many of them capitalise on the Robin Hood thing that it is hard to differentiate. Kudos to Springhead for bucking the touristy trend!

Help support me. Buy a silly craft beer T-Shirt.


The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Nottinghamshire Craft Beer Review: Pekko from Milestone Brewing

Nottinghamshire Craft Beer Review: Pekko from Milestone Brewing real ale pump clip
Welcome to the Shed. I am even-star and this is The Beer in Review. Today's Nottinghamsire craft beer review is for Pekko from Milestone Brewing.

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Pekko from Milestone is a bright yellow straw coloured beer. Yeasty aromas. Up front quite bitter. Lightly citrus and floral with some resinous lavender and a bit of sweeter elderflower . Refreshing after 2 weeks of sweet alco-poppy ipas! Nothing in there where I can say it tastes like THIS, it's just a good bitter blonde beer with some quaffable character.

In case you were wondering about the name, Pekko is a variety of hops. So like yesterday's beer review, this is likely a single hopped beer. Brewers tend to name their single hopped beers after the hops used. Looking at some information about Pekko hops it would seem that the beer conforms closely to that description but with out so much of the green herbs.

And yes this was one of the first beers I had upon returning from Portugal (some exciting stuff coming up about that here and on the youtube channel) where there is, at last, some craft beer! But a lot of the breweries there are taking up the American trend for these super hoppy and sugary "IPA" style beers. And while I do enjoy a good dank cotton candy tangy IPA, two weeks of them are rather exhausting.

It seems to me like "craft beer" is sort of devolving into basically Stout (of all sorts of stupidly flavoured varieties) and IPAs which are tending to all taste the same to me these days. I don't know if that is the American influence where those styles are what people are really into because they don't have a history of the huge variety of beers we have in the UK.

Line up four of those IPAs on the bar and they really all taste basically the same. Line up four British cask ales and they will be all different colours and flavours. All from just the hops and grains used.

It would be a shame if some of these types of beers start to die out because of the sheer weight of market forces demanding sweet dank IPAs every where. Part of the real ale (or craft beer if you like) revolution in the UK was driven by the sheer lack of variety in beer available. Now we might have all kinds of small brewers out there crafting beer, but if this also results in lack of variety then we have not made much progress.


The Beer in Review is a blog about craft beer and real ale. Keep up with new posts and contact me with comments and questions on twitter or YouTube. I'd love to hear about your craft beer adventures and recommendations from your home town.