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© 2019, Randy Mosher

Pictured above is the view of Río de Janiero from across the bay on the island of Niteroi. In this photo you can just barely see the famous Christ the Redeemer on top of Mount Corcovado on the right. The rounded mountain on the left is Sugar Loaf behind Urca Hill.


This trip (May 28 through June 15, 2019) was organized by Diego Masiero, Brazilian publisher of Radical Brewing, in coordination with Mondiale de la Bière and BrasilBrau local equivalent to Craft Brewers Conference) in São Paulo. In addition to helping judge Mondiale, we had a Radical Brewing booth at BrasilBrau, and I gave a speech.

Above left: My irrepressible co-conspirator in this little escapade, Diego Masiero, with a bowl of fish stew at the public market in Porto Allegre. Above right: Our spiffy-looking booth at Mondiale de la Bière in São Paulo, where we were serving the four amazing collaboration beers we made with Brazilian breweries.

My publishers organized additional professional training events in São Paulo, Río de Janeiro, and Porto Alegre, in Brazil’s far south. Although the schedule was packed, I had lots of opportunities to meet people as we signed 500 or so books, and even visited a few breweries.

The two-day beer styles training we did at Cervejaria Tarantino in Sáo Paulo were pretty normal, except for a translation booth, and oh, yes, the air conditioning wasn’t working. Yet, a fun couple of days.


Above, top to bottom, left to right: 1) I’m joined here by Tarantino founder Gilberto Tarantino, who previously had a long history as a premium beer importer in Brazil. On the other side is his partner, Luciano. We’re in front of the murals in their courtyard event space. 2) A view of one wall of a cachaça store in Niteroi, which boasted 500 products. Cachaça is a simple sugar cane rum, made from juice rather than molasses. For me, the attraction is the flavors added by aging in many different kinds of tropical woods. 3) Participants, organizers and celebrity judges gather for a beer afterwards at a Germanic-themed bar next door in Río. Me, I’m drinking a caiparinha. 4) The tabletop blending session at the new products workshop was designed to get people comfortable with the rapid prototyping process.

We moved to Río, and conducted a two-evening class on beer and food pairing. This left our days relatively free to visit breweries, a record shop (loaded up on Tropicalia LPs) and a Cachaça store. 

The second night featured a celebrity chef style competition between three groups of participants, who had to use a selection of ingredients and garnishes to put together a dish and select (or blend) a beer to match it. Tons of fun, the affair was judged by three of Brazil’s celebrity beer sommeliers. Yes, that’s a thing there.

In Porto Allegre, in Brazil’s far south, we concluded with a day-long workshop on new product development and formulation. Towards the end, participants were seated at tables with beers to blend as well as flavorings like fruit juices, citrus, herb tinctures and other ingredients to get some practice at tabletop prototyping.


As part of the trip we made five collaborative brews by coordinating over email or Skype. These were served on draft at our booth in Mondiale; the Tarantino brew was the official conference beer and was canned for that purpose. I loved them all, and was honored that these well-regarded breweries were willing to collaborate with me. All the people were super-cool also. The beers were, in no particular order:

4Arvores Gose with 30% apple juice. 6.0 %. Crisp, nicely tart from the apple juice, but overall very light, summery and refreshing. Hint of funk from the souring, which was done in a closed tank rather than a kettle. Just the right level of salt. Super-creamy, but light-bodied.

Dadiva “Milkshake” IPA with guava. 6.2 %. Beautiful perfumy guava nose. Dry-hopped, with little bitterness, a touch of lactose, nice creaminess. Guava (pink and white) was mostly about the perfume, with just a touch of acidity. Super-nice balance and overall execution.

Noi Lichtenhainer with biquinho chiles. 3.0%. Amazing execution of a smoked sour wheat ale with the delicate fruity perfume (think habanero without the heat) of the chiles.

Cervejaria Tarantino “Rabo de Aguila,” a Catharina sour (an emerging style of fruited sours) brewed to recreate the flavors of a popular Brazilian drink, Rabo de Galo, literally “tail of the cock.” Included jabuticaba (Brazilian “cherry”) and cambucí fruits, plus an all-Brazilian vermouth the brewer made, replacing European ingredients with Brazilian ones in my Spanish-style recipe. Lots of pink color, nice brisk acidity, big fruit palate. Spiciness of vermouth plus red fruit reminded me a little of cherry pie. Absolutely thrilling.

Way Beer Imperial porter with Brazilian seeds and wood. Highly aromatic dark beer, with layers of cherry pit, sassafras, nutmeg, vanilla and a lot of lusciousness that was hard to put a finger on. They used cumaru, puxuri, amburana wood, plus 10% or so of a barleywine that had spent some time in another tropical wood barrel. Amazing experience, like nothing I’ve ever had. Extremely rich and completely other-worldly.


18 days, 11,909 miles, 500 books signed, 162 paid training participants, 31 hours of classes, 8 breweries.


Above, top to bottom, left to right: 1) Casa Avós brewery’s name literally means “at grandma’s,” and that is the vibe they project. Its owner poses with one of their taphandles. 2) The same people with the instant beer also had worked out a bonkers system to reprocess brewery spent grains in a way that could be fed into a 3D printer. 3) At Overhop brewpub in Río, this back-lit onyx is perhaps the most beautiful showcase for tap handles I’ve ever seen. 4) A clever sign, made from beer bottles, greets visitors inside the entrance to Noi. 5) One of Noi’s younger brewers samples a tasty barley wine inside their dungeon-like barrel cellar.

Breweries Visited

Chroma Gorgeous, hip brewpub in São Paulo. Could fit in anywhere in the world. Big range of beers, from pils to sour to NEIPA to imp. stouts. All very good and completely different from each other. Great food also.

Tarantino Good size (30–40 hL) production brewery with taproom, food truck and big outdoor plaza for events and hanging out. Very good beers, well-managed brewery that is making a big splash. Super-professional without feeling corporate

Casa Avos Literally “Grandma’s House,” this is a super-cool small brewpub built into an old house in a residential neighborhood. Run by a Leo Burnett agency creative named Junior and his wife, they have a couple of AirBnB rooms with beer taps from which you can drink as much as you like. Great beers, doing some collabs in the US.

Overhop  Nice smaller brewpub in Río, pretty spare, modern. Some barrel beers, but good range, well-executed. Food available, but limited. Some very cool details, like giant backlit piece of onyx behind taps.

Noi Established brewery/restaurant in Niteroi, an island across the bay from Río. They brew 80,000 liters/mo (700 bbls), half of which goes to its 17 restaurants. Really good brewmaster, an older guy with a ton of big brewery experience, but there was also a younger brewer with his finger on the pulse. Small 3-bbl pilot, so they can experiment. Also have a small “cave” for barrel-aging. Run by three women family members. We did our beer and food experience in their location in Río’s upscale Leblon neighborhood near the famous beaches.

4Beer Cooperative/incubator brewery with four brands in Porto Alegre. Buffet lunch. Big industrial space, barely cleaned up. Only had one or two beers, but quality seemed great.

Suricato Super-hip brewery, taproom only, Porto Allegre. Brewing all the current styles and doing all of them—sours included—very well

Devanieo de Velhaco Amazing place in a gutted former family home, Porto Allegre. Sleek, modern, yet somewhat funky. All beers barrel fermented, start to finish! Wide range of styles within barrel constraint. Pretty clean beers, super-cool place with almost a nightclub vibe in terms of lighting/decor. 

Brazilian Craft Beer Scene Impressions

There is a huge amount of enthusiasm despite difficult conditions (grossly unfair taxation which keeps the price of craft beer 4 to 6 times the price of mass-market, devalued currency, high import duties on everything). There’s also a desire to find a unique Brazilian voice, which is coming along quite nicely . The best beers were really world class. Some nice NEIPAs. Sours are the most quality-challenged, as they are everywhere but Belgium.

Great ideas

A couple of things I tasted that I think are worth trying back in Chicago. First, a cold-mash extraction of dark and caramel malts over 18 hours. I think cocoa hulls were also used this way. Liquid was run off and used to mash-in lighter malts. Eliminated a lot of harsh astringency, and made the medium caramel really taste like caramel rather than burnt raisins. Second was a pastry stout that employed milk whey powder rather than pure lactose. I recall the brewer telling me that the whey was about 7% lactose, so they used a fair amount of it, but having the milky/creamy flavor cues meant that less lactose was needed and a more natural milky richness was present, which really helped the chocolate or whatever the secondary ingredient was.

Crazy Idea

“Instant Beer” made by freeze-drying beer (and a hop infusion), then blending back with water to make a syrup. To use, put syrup in glass, fill with carbonated water. It really was an IPA: good color, body, head retention. Aroma was a bit challenged, but overall way better then it should have been. Magic—although it’s not clear what the need is for this product.

As I flew above the impossibly large megalopolis that is São Paulo completely exhausted after 18 days on the road, I had my Brazilian playlist going. An artist named Karnak was singing in Juvenar, “…you…should comprehend that the best things in life are health, food and love. You have to come to terms with yourself. It doesn’t matter where you are…” I’m getting a little choked up by the memory right now.


I can’t thank everyone enough, especially Diego and his team, who did an absolutely amazing job handling the very complex logistics of BrazilBrau and Mondiale running day and night, plus the training sessions we conducted in three cities. Also thanks to the collaborating breweries and especially to Noi, who also hosted us in Río and made the food event work.

I love Brazil. There is so much warmth and fun and creativity there.