Just a few years ago, finding a beer in Brazil that wasn’t a watered-down lager would have been a challenge of Olympic-sized proportions. Brazil’s most common beers (Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, Nova Shin etc) serve a single purpose: beat the tropical heat with a flavor-less buzz.
But that’s all changed. Brazil is now home to a thriving craft beer industry and while cities like São Paulo, Belo Horizonte, Curitiba and Porto Alegre were leading the suds insurgency, Rio de Janeiro has been quick to catch up with the opening of a dozen or so craft beer bars around the city.
“Five years ago it was almost impossible to buy a craft beer in Rio, even beers from traditional countries like Germany and Belgium,” recalls Filipe Oliveria, founder of Three Monkeys Beer. “When Three Monkeys launched late 2013, there was around five breweries in the city. Today, it is estimated that the city has more than 50 craft breweries.” Rio’s latest hotspot is sure to be Hocus Pocus DNA, opening in August in Botafogo amid a beer hound environment of exposed brick, hardwood stools and benches and vintage sofas that evoke the cozy drinking dens of the American Northwest. “We’ll have 14 taps, mostly of our beer and some of our friends’ local brews, including seasonal beers and some experiments that we’ll try to create every week,” says Hocus Pocus cofounder Pedro Butelli.
Some of the Rio’s most exciting craft beer includes 3 Cariocas Oatmeal Pale Ale, Mistura Clássica’s Vertingem IPA, ApaCadabra and Interstelar IPA from Hocus Pocus and the Golden and White ales from Three Monkeys. If you are in Rio for the Summer Olympic Games and in desperate need of a hop fix, the following bars are where you’ll find thelupolomaníacos (Brazilian Portuguese slang for hopheads).
Brewteco – The Barra de Tijuca location was voted best draft beer bar by Veja, the local food and drink Bible, for its 21 taps. In Leblon, the smaller original location, there are only two but it remains a local brewer’s favorite for its traditional Carioca dive bar atmosphere.
Pub Escondido – Twenty-Four taps of local and international craft beers in Copacabana.
Botto Bar (Rua Henrique de Novais 71, Praça da Bandeira) Twenty taps in Praça da Bandeira not far from Maracanã stadium.
Boteco Colarinho (Rua Nelson Mandela 100, Botafogo) Will eventually have 36 taps in Baixo Botafogo (there are currently nine).
Lupolino (Rua Professor Álvaro Rodrigues 148; Botafogo) A Botafogo gem with 16 taps.
Hop Lab (Rua Barão de Iguatemi 292, Praça da Bandeira) Newcomer with 30 taps, Rio’s biggest craft selection on draft.
Metrópole (Rua Capitão Salomão, 57; Humaitá) Twelve draft beers served up in a charming, old-style residence in Humaitá.