A Beercation in Brazil
As some of you may have already known, Karla and I recently traveled to her beloved and beautiful country of Brazil. We journeyed there mostly to visit her family and friends, but we also had the urge to seek out the best craft beers that Brazil had to offer us. Preparations for our trip began a couple of weeks prior, beginning with a Sunday trip to Tampa, Dunedin, and St. Petersburg, FL. We wanted to bring some unique Florida beers to Brazil so we picked up a couple bottles from Angry Chair, 7venth Sun, and Orange Belt Brewing. The following weekend I decided to make a quick trip up to Jupiter to snag some Fresh IPAs from Civil Society Brewing as well. After that, we reached out to Unseen Creatures Brewing & Blending in hopes of receiving a bottle of theirs too, and much to our surprise they followed through with a Daybreak Golden Ale. Finally, to top off our "box of beer", we grabbed a few more brews from Boxelder, then stuffed them all in a box with Styrofoam, packing peanuts, and taped that sucker up real nice for the long journey to South America.
After an eight hour flight to São Paulo and six more hours on a bus, we finally arrived at Karla's hometown, Curitiba, around 5:30 in the morning. At last, we were able to get a little rest at Karla's mom's house. Since we got a late start, the first day of the trip consisted mostly of spending time with her family and running errands. When we eventually started to feel hungry, Karla picked out Botanique, a cafe/bar/plant shop owned by a friend of hers, Patricia. There's something that's just so calming about the presence of luscious plants in every crack and corner of this place. The food and hand-crafted cocktails were really delicious too. The day was finished off by celebrating the Brazilian Valentine's Day with dinner at A Caiçara in the company of her brother and girlfriend. Because of the occasion, we were treated to our own customized four course meals and brought along a few bottles of wine to enjoy with the dinner. If you have a thing for sea food, then this is the place for you.
Our second day of the trip began a little earlier with a private tour of the highly acclaimed Bodebrown Brewery. These guys are some really awesome people brewing some truly remarkable beers. They definitely have a bright future ahead of them. We will post a more in-depth look into their operations in the coming week. Later that day, we stopped at Templo Da Cerveja for a couple of locally brewed beers. It's a pretty sweet little hole in the wall bottle shop surrounded by some chic restaurants. At night we were invited to the soft opening of Street 444, a shared space which is now the home of various local businesses such as a Bodebrown tap room, a barber shop, a cocktail bar, a burger joint, and a tattoo parlor. The place totally reminded us of The Source in Denver, Colorado, and has a lot of potential. Bodebrown's tap room features five self-serving taps connected to electronic tablets that enable you to pour as much beer as you like into your choice of glassware. Cards are given to each person that wants to drink from the taps and you prepay as much money onto the card as you want. If you don't spend all of the money on your card, you get to keep the card and use it for the next time you visit. The guys at Bodebrown are really doing an excellent job of incorporating technology into all aspects of their brewery.
Our third day began with a big breakfast prepared by Karla's mother. The three of us then made our way over to one of my favorite places in Curitiba, the Oscar Niemeyer Museum. The museum was designed by one of the most significant figures in modern architecture, Oscar Niemeyer. We happened to be there just in time for one of Curitiba's very own, Rafael Silveira's exhibition. Karla had actually become acquainted with him during her time writing for a previous blog. His work incorporates floral pieces with human anatomy and psychedelic patterns. Needless to say, I fell in love with his work and just had to get my hands on anything from his collection. Another exhibition that was on display was curated by the Campanas brothers, who are famously known for creating furniture made out of ordinary materials such as cardboard, rope, plastic tubes, aluminum wire, even stuffed animals, and the list goes on. Yet again, I was impressed by everything that I saw at this exhibition, and I highly recommend that you check out this museum if you ever find yourself in Curitiba.
The next part of our day included running some very important errands, such as buying Brazilian candies to bring home. But before that, we ate at a classic Brazilian restaurant known for making some of the best Feijoada in the city called Pote Chopp. This place knows their roots and has kept things the same in spite of the changing world around them. It had almost felt like I went back in time upon stepping into the restaurant. Everything from the aged waiters wearing white tuxedos, to the classic mirrored plaques inscribed with beer logos adorning the walls, had a nostalgic feel to it. And the food... Well, the food, was just simply amazing.
After our time spent in Curitiba, we finally made the journey over to the city of Pinhais to get a glimpse of Cervejaria Way Beer, and to drink some beers of course. We ended up getting our own private tour of the facilities, and even got to meet one of the co-founders of Way Beer, Alejandro Winocur. We shared some beers and had a conversation with him too, which we will write all about in another future post on The Bitter Notes. We then continued our night by sharing our Florida beers with Karla's friends at Samba Pastel & Birita, a new restaurant owned by our friend Gil Preto. We topped off the night by stopping at the newly reopened James Bar, which was having a soft opening only for friends of the long established house, and then Soviet night club for some late night fun.
After eating breakfast and saying our goodbyes to Karla’s family, we spent most of the next day on the bus traveling back to São Paulo. We arrived at the Tietê station around 7:00 pm and then decided to check into our Airbnb. Once we got settled into our place and relaxed a bit, I was just barely able to convince Karla to check out a small craft beer bar that I found on Yelp. The bar is called Home SP, and that’s exactly how it felt to us upon walking in there. They had a decent selection of Brooklyn Brewery taps, but what really appealed to me the most was their local can and bottle selection. First up, we ordered a can of Metamorphose by Cervejaria Dogma and damn, did we do good! From the moment the first sip hit my lips, I knew that I had to try as many beers from this brewery as possible. And to my luck, Home SP had another can from Dogma called Mosaic Lover. As soon as I smelled the aroma from this one, I knew it was going to be special. This was it. This was the best beer that I had tasted during our trip in Brazil so far. If you love Mosaic hops as much as I do, then this is the beer for you. A top-notch beer! Another decent beer that we drank at Home SP was the 10 Lúpulos by Cervejaria Jupiter, which is a solid IPA combining Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Columbus, Equinox, Motueka, Simcoe, and Topaz hop varieties. The owner of Home SP was super nice and knowledgeable about the local craft beer scene. Check this place out if you’re looking for a less crowded spot with quality craft beers. After we had our fair share of beer there, we walked our way over to Igrejinha Bar to see Karla's friend DJ. When we got there, Manolo Neto was playing some dope Afro-Brazilian influenced house music. We finally ended the night at Violeta Restaurante e Bar for some late night pizza before stumbling back to our Airbnb.
The next day we slept in till 11 and then slowly, but surely got ready to meet up with one of Karla’s friends, Bruna, who works as an art editor at Vogue Brasil. We met up with her for lunch at NINO Cucina, which offered us some savory classic Italian dishes. Our next stop was the Tomie Ohtake Institute to view some local and international exhibitions. Admission is free, which is awesome for those traveling on a budget and the building is literally across the street from the world-famous BrewDog Bar. Unfortunately, the bar wasn’t open after our visit to the museum, so we went to a place that Alejandro from Way Beer had recommended to us. The place is called Empório Alto dos Pinheiros, EAP for short, and my god, this place has it all. It was as if we were children again walking into a candy store. I wanted everything that I could get my hands on. It has hundreds of local beers in cans and bottles, as well as, over 40 beers on draft being poured out of the most beautiful tap heads that I had ever seen. It’s Brazilian craft beer heaven. We ended up staying there a little longer than we had planned, but that was just fine with us. Some of the highlights for us were the Sourmind by Dogma, Lucid Dream Brett NE APA by Cervejaria Dádiva + Suricato Ales, and the Magnum Opus Imperial IPA by Dogma. We finally managed to leave after a few hours and walked back over to BrewDog Bar for, you guessed it, some more beers. I enjoyed the Golden Stout by Cervejaria Dádiva, which is practically a coffee IPA, but not as bitter. One of the bartenders there, Bruno, was well informed about the Brazilian craft beer industry and spoke English extremely well, which took us by surprise. Definitely your go-to-guy if you don't speak Portuguese and want to get the scoop on the local craft beer scene. While we were drinking there, our friend Zé joined us along with his girlfriend. A few beers later, we found ourselves extremely hungry and I just had to get some Japanese food while I was in São Paulo. The reason why is because São Paulo is the home of the largest population of Japanese people outside of Japan, which basically means that the city has some kickass Japanese food. We took an Uber over to Tanuki Sushi, one of Bruna's recommendations, and treated ourselves to some sushi and ramen. After stuffing our faces, we finally decided to call it a night and headed back to our Airbnb to pass out.
And so the last day of our trip had finally arrived. The weather was gorgeous, I had ambitious plans for the day, and I was determined to do them all, despite getting a late start to the day. Our first stop was the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo. It was founded in 1905, making it the oldest art museum in the city. The Pinacoteca hosts an expansive collection of Brazilian art that ranges from 19th century portraits and sculptures to the works of iconic Brazilian modern artists. There was just so much Brazilian history in this building. It was pretty amazing. We spent a little over an hour there, but could have easily stayed longer. Next on our itinerary was the Ibirapuera Park, and lucky for us, we made it there with plenty of daylight to spare. It's pretty much the equivalent to New York City's Central Park. The park contains a number of monuments and structures, gardens and landscapes, and cultural and educational centers, but the one place that I was the most excited to see was the Auditório do Ibirapuera, which was designed by none other than the late Oscar Niemeyer.
After spending some quality time walking around the park, it was time to check out a small gallery that Karla had visited in the past called Galeria Choque Cultural, in search of a print by Rafael Silveira. Unfortunately, none of his prints were available at the gallery, but we were able to get our hands on a vinyl record of the band that he performs in called Os Transtornados Do Ritmo Antigo. The albums' artwork was designed by him and the record included a poster that he created inside of the packaging. So basically, we pretty much succeeded in getting a piece of his art. From there, we walked our way over to a bar called Empório Sagarana and ordered a couple of beers to go along with one of Karla's favorite snacks, toasted peanuts. We then stopped by São Paulo Tap House for a few more beers and some coxinha. After all was said and done, we had finally decided to call it a night, but before doing so, we just had to stop by our favorite watering hole one last time, EAP. While we were there we picked up some of our favorite Brazilian beers to bring back to the States, as well as, a couple to make packing up our bags a little less tedious and a little more fun that night. Finally, we arrived back at our Airbnb, packed our bags, cleaned up the place, went to sleep, woke up a couple hours later, and called an Uber to take us to the airport at 5:45 am. For us, the day was just beginning, but for others it was the remnants of their Saturday night. Favelas were littered along the main highway as we made our way out of the city. Once we hit a clearing on the road, I became mesmerized by the sunrise that morning. It is something that I'll never forget for as long as I live. And with that, Brazil, you have my heart forever. I cannot wait to return to your beautiful land of beautiful people, culture, and beers.