In Brazil the coffee is hot and the beer, oh, so cold!
Last winter I went to Brazil as a friend of coffee – and returned as a (thirsty) lover of beer.
Thanks to Brazil’s amazing beer culture, according which beer is to be enjoyed ice cold from small (compared to the huge ones in Ireland and Great Britain) and elegant glasses, often adorned with a stem.
Let’s start with the basics. ‘Chopp’ or ‘chope’ is a pint of beer, and ‘chope for favor’ is the Brazilian way to get your pint. The beer itself can be any brand the bar chooses to serve from Brazil’s own Brahma to big, international labels. But always, always, the beer is very cold and lustrously refreshing. And do not scorn the head, as there can be a good amount of froth on the top to keep the beer itself insulated from the warm weather, thus helping it keep cold.
Even though there are some nice domestic wines produced in Brazil and the country’s national drinks are coffee and caipirinha, the most favoured drink you’ll see in a Brazilian’s hand is cold beer.
The best chope I had, was in São Paulo’s legendary Bar Veloso. Bar Veloso is located in Rua Conceição Veloso, in the district of Vila Mariana. Veloso is named after the Veloso bar in Rio de Janeiro, where Vinicius de Morais and Tom Jobim saw the beautiful Helô Pinheiro strolling past in all her carioca sensuality. The song Girl from Ipanema was born. São Paulo’s Bar Veloso is favoured by, for example, the Brazilian 2 Michelin Star chef Alex Atala, of D.O.M.
Bar Veloso is unassuming, old-fashioned bar – in a Brazilian way. When I stepped over to my table on the terrace, I didn’t even need to lift my finger, when the first chope already appeared in front of me. The bar had a sophisticated feel in it, although it’s hard to say why: the walls are lined with football memorabilia and the customers, families, friends, travellers and students alike, wore mainly shorts and T-shirts. Maybe the elegant feel emanated from the urban paulistas, the residents of São Paulo, who seem to be an easy going and cool bunch.
Many international brands brew their own chope in Brazil, which is why you can end up drinking Brahma, Antarctica, Skol or any other brand as a chope. And, strangely enough, typically you won’t get the same beer both as a chope and on the bottle in the same bar. People say that the breweries brew a special batch of chope separate from the bottled beer but many believe this to be bogus and that chope and bottled beer come from the same batch. Normally, the bars serve one light chope, ‘chope claro’ and maybe a darker chope, known as ‘chope escuro’.
And this, my dear friends, is what lured me into the world of chopes!