Dave Barry discovers something other than fish in the ocean off Rio
While Brazil is justifiably famous for the caipirinha, a deceptively strong and devastatingly sweet concoction of lime, sugar and sugarcane liquor, most Brazilians enjoy sitting out on the street at one of Brazil’s many storefront bars with a giant bottle of beer or a “chopp,” a very cold draft. After considerable research, it’s possible to narrow them down to a top five.
5. Skol: The official beer of the Olympics – and this is one thing that Brazil did stock enough of beforehand – comes in a yellow can and has no relation to the American chewing tobacco of the same pronunciation. Unfortunately, it’s Brazil’s most loathsome mass brew, redolent of wet socks and fraternity carpets.
4. Stella Artois: The same stuff they serve around the world, but it has a certain status in Brazil. A Stella chopp is an upscale upgrade over the domestic stuff. Tastes the same in Rio as it does anywhere else, which is fine. But not particularly Brazilian.
3. Eisenbahn Pale Ale: There isn’t much of a craft-brewing scene in Brazil, and this stuff is hard to find. In fact, I’m not 100 percent sure this is exactly what I had. By American/world standards it was perfectly acceptable, and it only ranks third on this list because it isn’t as quintessentially Brazilian as the two ahead of it.
2. Brahama: The classic Brazilian beer. Ninety percent of the time, when you order a “chopp,” this is what you get. It’s a pretty standard watered-down pilsner, better than the American mass brews, clean and smooth with very little aftertaste, and always served wonderfully cold.
1. Antarctica: When Brazilians order a giant 22-ounce (roughly) bottle to sit at a table on the sidewalk, this is what they usually get. It comes with a plastic cooler tube to keep it cold, a cheaper version of the ones used with white wine in the States, and they pour it into small glasses and sip it before it has a chance to get warm. It’s nothing special from a flavor perspective, but it has a cleaner, crisper taste than Brahma and would probably do quite well in the American market.