Last Updated :05/03/09
ot really a country known for it's beer, Portugal is mainly dominated by two huge "brands" - Super Bock and Sagres (owned by S&N) - although there are some other breweries scatted around giving a less than impressive total of 8 in the whole country; see what I mean about not being known for beer?
Saying that, a few new brewers have started in the last five years and now Unicer (who own Super Bock) have opened some brewpub-esque pubs (which don't brew on-site) at Vila Nova de Gaia and the Parque das Nações in Lisbon called República da Cerveja. Sadly the former brewpub/regional Lusitana just to the west of Lisbon now contract out their beer to Unicer, so the green shoots of a beery renaissance are currently withering away again and there seems to be no prospect of one in a similar vein of as in neighbouring Spain.
I've been to Lisbon and Porto on three occasions previously, mainly before the current half-hearted beer scene began, but even so I know that Portugal isn't exactly Denmark-esque in it's beer revival just yet. One thing to remember is that both the "big boys" make dark lagers with varying degrees of success; these "Preta" beers are available in most bars but the locals think that the English only want pale fizzy piss and will usually take some persuasion that you actually do want to try the locals' beer! Super Bock's is called Stout and, to be honest, isn't bad with a decent caramel toastiness.
We visited Lisbon in March 2007 and failed to find any groundbreaking new brewpubs or suchlike but, not disheartened, we're off to Porto in February 2008 and I have one tentative "maybe" in the brewpub line to try - PortoBeer at Av. da Boavista 1245 (jct of Rua de Delos Ares) which apparently is open daily 12:00 – 02:00 so I will report back on that soon, probably with the sad state of yearning and mourning that which has been lost - this is a uniquely Portuguese thing which they call "saudade"... (yep, my hunch was right...!)
For public transport lovers the trams of Lisbon are a world-must-do and the system includes the steepest adhesion-worked incline in the world at a staggering 1 in 6.9 (or so) on the climb out of the Baixa on route 28. Happily, after many years of "maybes", Porto has finally re-opened it's city centre tramways using not plastic new trams but preserved cars from the tram museum some of which date back 100 years... oh yes!
The Porto page is here,
My Lisbon page is here,
The report from our spring 2007 trip to Madrid and Lisbon is here.
Also, have a look at Ron Pattinson's guide to Portuguese brewers here.