Mastering the Rudiments to Develop a Future

Seldom discussed but nonetheless very active, even booming within its own borders, the Portuguese craft-beer scene deserves better recognition. I don’t understand why we don’t hear more about it. And yet, I have to admit that before I went to this beautiful country myself, I knew virtually nothing of the scene.

As I have indicated previously, Portugal’s craft-beer production looks at first to be dominated by the two major industrial brands: Super Bock (established in 1927) and Sagres (1940). To tell the truth, they do indeed dominate. But, gradually, small microbreweries have emerged in Portugal. Today, the field is a major player.

Taking advantage of the movement, Mean Sardine Brewery (Mafra, district of Lisbon), as if by a mirror effect, has quickly become one of the most popular (without being the most productive). The reason: The small business, created by Rolim Carmo, takes a completely hand-crafted approach (unfiltered beers, free of colourings or preservatives).

Consider, for example, their Zagaia (25 IBUs, 6% ABV), referred to as a “Belgian Dubbel” by the brewery. What interests me here is this confrontation with a reference style.

From this perspective, the taster’s enthusiasm is in fact not total. But, what is really important is precisely this confrontation, because elsewhere we see too many small breweries who are interested only in the production of trendy anecdotal beers. I personally think that Mean Sardine, thanks to this realistic and frank approach, will be stronger tomorrow. This quite sweet and light bitter dubbel is on the right track. That’s essential.