Beer: Cheers to Brazil
Not everything is quite what it seems. Sitting at a terrace table, taking in mountain views, surrounded by thesort of buildings you see dripping with snow on Christmas cards, it would be easy to think you were in Switzerland or southern Germany. The truth is you are some 6,000 miles away. This is not alpine Europe but Latin America, more precisely a town in Brazil just a couple of hours’ drive from the teeming metropolis of São Paulo.
Today, the brewery has an air of clinical efficiency. With a capacity of only 20hl, it retains the innovative flexibility of a small brewery and still has the feel of a hands-on operation. But Kirin has brought with it improved practices that have seen the quality of the beer, according to its brewers, significantly improve. The fact that Baden Baden claimed two of the trophies at this year’s IBC would seem to support that assertion.
Eisenbahn is probably the best-known Brazilian craft beer maker. Founded in 2002 by Juliano and Bruno Mendes and their father Jarbas, the brewery is based in Blumenau, another German-influenced part of the country, and it, too, was acquired by the makers of Schincariol.
That was in 2008, again before the Kirin takeover. Juliano is still closely involved as a consultant, German brewmaster Gerhard Beutling remains at the helm, and the Eisenbahn range keeps on growing. Highlights include a smoky but not too medicinal Rauchbier, a right-on-the-mark Weizen, loaded with banana, bubblegum and vanilla notes, and an impressive Oktoberfest beer. Eisenbahn, too, has a strong record in the IBC, winning gold this year for its Vienna lager, 5 Anos, and doing even better by claiming the overall Best Lager trophy last year for its Dunkel.
The next stage – for all these companies – is export. It’s a dog-eat-dog world but Brazilian breweries definitely have the quality and style to succeed in an international environment.