The great Beer festival in Brazil
In its 6th edition, the Brazilian Beer Festival in Blumenau confirmed international relevance, as shown in this feature by the journalist and sommelier Luís Celso Jr., who covered the event for BeerArt.
Luís Celso Jr.
The Brazilian Beer Festival 2014 brought together about 35,000 people and occupied two sectors of the Vila Germânica Park in Blumenau, Santa Catarina, between 12 and 15 of March. In its sixth edition, it established itself as the biggest event of beers in the country - and also the largest in Latin America - with 106 exhibitors and about 600 labels, bringing the diversity of types, flavors and aromas of the national beer production (and some international) for the public all in one place.
Every year, the festival is also lively party. And it could not be any different when it comes to beer. The public was able to enjoy beer as much as typical meals, concerts, lectures and workshops, more than 20 product releases, open mashings, label contest and the II Brazilian Beer Competition, which awarded 118 national beers with gold, silver and bronze medals. Exhibitors took this opportunity to make contacts, partnerships, collaborative productions, business meetings and, of course, socialize. Opportunities to gather these many people in a single environment are rare.
The BeerArt Magazine attended the event and selected for you some of the highlights.
The Best Beer is very Brazilian
The number of beers that entered in the II Brazilian Beer Competition almost doubled compared to the first edition reaching 414 labels. From these beers, 118 were awarded, being 57 bronze medals, 38 silver and 23 gold for those who scored between 80 and 100 in the rating of the jury, which was composed by 30 national and international judges. The best beer of the year chosen was a very Brazilian label: Amazon Beer Stout Açaí, Sweet Sout beer style with Brazilian fruit. Black, full-bodied, with relatively bitter taste of roasted malts, notes of coffee and chocolate, the drink brings the fruit flavor discreetly in the background, making the drink a harmonious whole.
Union is strength
The Brewery of the Year for the second consecutive year was the Bodebrown, Curitiba (PR), with 10 medals (one gold, six silver and three bronze), confirming the position of innovative and exceptional beer production. The second position was occupied by Brazil Kirin (one gold, four silver, and two bronze) being awarded seven medals for Baden Baden and Eisenbahn brands. The third place for Gauden Bier, also from Curitiba, with six awards (two gold medals, two silver and two bronze).
The result shows that union is strength. The three breweries produce more than one brand. The Bodebrown had among its awards two medals for De Bora, of Imbituva (PR), that outsources production at its factory. The Brazil Kirin Group today has three craft breweries in its portfolio and Gauden Bier makes the outsourced production of recipes from various breweries and the Paraná region. Special mention to Colorado Brewery, which had more gold medals: three in all.
One of the culminating points of the festival and trend in Brazil were beers aged in wood. The Bodebrown took five different labels, served at their booth. Highlight for Imperial Stout aged in Bourbon barrel, gold medalist in the competition, and for 4 Bles also matured in Bourbon. Side of the Colorado, the Ithaca Oak Aged also took gold. It is also an Imperial Stout, but aged in oak.
Green coffee in yellow and green beer
Beers with dark and roasted malts naturally resemble coffee. However, beers that really take coffee in the recipe are much rarer. So two releases draw attention: Hop Arabica, from Morada Cia. Etílica, Curitiba, and Dama Bier Coffee IPA, the brewery of Piracicaba (SP). Both are clear, which naturally cause certain strangeness in those who are used to the dark versions. Moreover, the two use low roasting coffee, which leaves a higher acidity and flavors reminiscent more of the coffee fruit than its roasting (a much richer experience of aromas and flavors).
The Arabian Hop is a Blond Ale produced with a delicate balance between coffee and phenolic and fruity aromas of Belgian beer. The Dama Bier has more aggressive bitterness of American IPAs and citrus aromas from American hops and is well contextualized with the coffee more “green” and acid. This last beer was produced collaboratively in January by a union of Brazilian brewers, a delegation of foreigners who came to Brazil to attend the Beer Train. Besides the Dama Bier team, Samuel Cavalcanti (Bodebrown) participated, the Americans Chris Kirk (Great Divide / Moffat Sation) and Tyler Joyce (Great Divide / Mile High), the Belgian Greg Murer (La Brasserie Fleurac and Beryllium and Erbium) and the Mexican Laura Rudth, internationally acclaimed chef specialized in cocoa and chocolate.
The Witbier style - Belgian tradition of the wheat beer with orange peel and coriander - undoubtedly stood out this year in the Brazilian Beer Festival. There was even an increase in enrollments in the Brazilian Beer Competition 2014. This shows the concern of the breweries in having light beers but also more elaborate, with differential in comparison to more traditional styles.
Among the releases Baden Baden Witbier was present, made with natural extracts of orange peels, which gives it a distinctive flavor, recalling the famous orange liqueur Cointreau; Bierland Oceanica with most evident coriander, made in partnership with Rafael Bertges Bertges Silva de Carvalho and Caio Delgaudio, winners of Bierland Domestic Brewer contest last year; Schornstein Blanche de Maison, limited edition recipe made with Douglas Merlo and Giovani Testoni, winners of the II State Contest of Acerva Catarinense; and DUM Grand Cru, a Double Witbier, more intense in flavor and alcohol (9 %), from the brewery DUM Cervejaria, Paraná.
The time and place of Session Beers
The Session Beers, beers with varied styles and a low alcohol content, sprouted among craft breweries in Brazil. After the release of some labels at the Mondial de la Bière in November in Rio de Janeiro, as Bodebrown Verum Session Pale Ale and 2Cabeças Funk IPA, the craft breweries showed some more news during the festival of Blumenau.
This was the case of both Wäls from Minas Gerais with its Session Citra, a Session IPA single hop, made with just this kind of American hops, and Limbo, from Seasons, from Rio Grande do Sul. Another refreshing launch was the Session IPA from Paraná F#%*ing Beer. There was even Session Stout, dark beer and roasted malts.
More refreshing and softer than the basic styles, often in body and bitterness, the Session Beers became very nice drinks for hot days and can be drunk over longer periods and at higher volume without alcohol intoxication. By the way, that's where the name comes from this category of beers.
Collaborative Mashings and socializing
The term “collaborative brew” is increasing in the field of craft beers in Brazil. It is about the union of brewers to make one beer. It usually happens in factories and they should not miss the Brazilian Beer Festival. One of the partnerships occurred in Bierland in Blumenau, between its owners and brewers from Argentina, the Antares Brewery. The product that came out was an American Pale Ale with hops of Patagonia and Brazilian guarana. Another occurred at Das Bier, Gaspar, a neighbouring town, with the Bodebrown and the Morada Cia Etílica. The result was the Roggen Kölsch, using rye instead of wheat from the traditional style of Cologne, Germany.
In both cases several other brewers ‒ brewery owners, sommeliers , fans and friends, business sector, etc. – from many parts of the country were present. What made this type of event a great celebration, deserved, by the way, for those who came to the festival to work hard.
There was also an open mashing from the Acerva Catarinense, in front of the entrance of the event, which aimed to promote the culture of making beer at home, and also a mashing at the Schornstein brewery in Pomerode, with members of the Italian Association of Beer Tasters.
Sour beers success
Some sour beers were also present at the festival, pointing this trend in Brazilian lands and making great success with the public. This is the case of Sour Me Not by Way Beer, from Paraná. Three Sour Ales with fruit: strawberry, acerola and soursop. All dry, with high acidity, well carbonated and low alcohol (around 3.5 %), refreshing and surprising for palates less used to these versions.
Morada Cia Etílica also took a Sour beer, named Wheat Wine Sour. It is a mixture of a wheat beer with alcohol content of 9.3% in different barrels, as Amburana and Oak. The result is also surprising, with acidity and wood highlighted. But unfortunately this is not expected to be commercialized.
The third highlight was Abadessa from Rio Grande do Sul, exploring the Gose style, type of acid German beer typical from the city of Leipzig, which also differs by being salty - the water of the river that cuts the city is brackish, and the beer was well established. A different and enjoyable experience of a style that almost does not exist anymore.
The wizard of Italian seasoning
Federico Casari, from the Italian microbrewery Croce di Malto, opened the lectures at the Brazilian Beer Festival on the second day of the event. He squandered knowledge to explain how to use spices in beer, his specialty, in the lecture Innovation in Beer occurred at the School of Beer and Malt in Blumenau (SC).
The process is not simple. It uses sensory analysis panels with quantitative and qualitative methods, many tests and studies. Something essentially empirical. But it also depends on the sensitivity of the Brewer about how, how much and where to use the spices. No wonder Federico can be called the wizard of spices.
He also gave some hints about the spices that are used in the Croce di Malto beers. However, always careful not to mention the name and not to reveal his secret (gave only species and origin). He left us feeling like knowing more about the secret of the wizard.
"I have Lambic in my blood"
One of the last lectures in the Brazilian Beer Festival was one of the most important. "Lambic: the secrets of spontaneous fermentation" had as speaker Lorenzo Dabove, one of the biggest world experts in Lambics, sour Belgian beers of spontaneous fermentation. "I'm crazy about Lambic and today I'm going to infect you," said Lorenzo, who just regretted not having that kind of beers to serve to the audience. "Maybe if I cut myself. After all, I have Lambic in my blood." With sympathy, he conquered the audience, who accompanied him from beginning to end, with basic explanations about the style and references of this beer in European art and paintings.
Beer Ice cream
Blumenau is a hot city. During the sixth edition, the heat appeared on Saturday, the last day of the event, surpassing 31°C. This undoubtedly increased the demand for the more refreshing beers, as the new releases of Witbier and Session Beers. The Heat also made many visitors discover the beer ice creams. Yes, they exist! At the event, they were brought by Gelataio, a company from Curitiba specialized in handmade Italian gelato. For every liter of ice cream, the same mass proportion is used, generating ice cream with half the alcohol content of the original beverage. You can make ice cream from several different styles of beer and labels.
The presence of the breweries from Rio Grande do Sul (Gauchos) also drew attention in this sixth edition of the Brazilian Beer Festival. Mostly by the products very well prepared. Black Metal IPA, by Maniba, took the gold medal in the competition. This is a version of IPA by the addition of dark roasted malts. Another good choice is the Kojak American IPA from Baldhead Brewery, with good flavors of citrus from the hop and clean bitterness. The Babel brewery also took great beers, especially for the ESB, very classic from the style. Another good English beer is the IPA from Lagom, served hand pump, like in the British pubs.
The Brazilian Beer Festival 2015 already has a date to happen. It will be in March between 11 and 14, in the same location, the Vila Germânica Park in Blumenau. One of the big news in 2014 was the use of two sectors for the event, which gave more comfort to the visitors and exhibitors. And now the organization is considering the possibility of making the event grow even more, anticipating the sale of booths and occupying three sectors. "There were 26 breweries that were left out. If the demand of the beer market is expanding, we will attend with one more sector", says the president of the Vila Germânica Park and of the organizing committee of the event, Ricardo Stodieck.
Ricardo also believes that the Brazilian Beer Festival now is taking its first steps towards internationalization. "During 2013 we visited national and international events to create the relationship with breweries and bring the experts from the world to Blumenau. I'm sure soon the event will be positioned among the most popular in the world", he says