There isn’t much better than sitting down for a cold pint after a few days of touristing. Resting aching feet, removing the hefty backpack, looking through photos of the day, and swapping highlights becomes a holiday ritual when there’s a glass of something refreshing to go with it. The only drink I wanted to seek out in Lisbon was vinho verde, the tart cousin of white wine, however, we all know beer is my poison of choice, and the Portuguese capital has not just a great number of craft beer bars, but a staggering variety of beers to try. If you want more than a Brewdog (those guys seem to have literally taken over the world), here’s where to drink craft beer in Lisbon:
I loved the Principe Real district of Lisbon. Seemingly not top of the list for the tourist masses, it was much quieter than some of its better-known neighbours, and that lent itself nicely to nabbing a comfy sofa at Cerveteca Lisboa. There are fridges packed with 100+ bottles to buy and enjoy there or to take away, but what drew us there was the rumour that their 14 taps are rotated throughout the day. Imagine having that as your local! So that we didn’t become overwhelmed with choice, a tasting flight was the obvious way forward.
Mine was comprised of three Portuguese beers, two of which came from Lisbon breweries. The Metropolitan Pale Ale from Dois Corvos was fruity with a hint of grape and lightly floral. Microbrewery Dos Santos win a rave review from me for their Santa Velhaca India Pale lager literally being the best lager I’ve ever had, serving up a depth of hop flavour never experienced by me in a lager before. The third Portuguese brew wasn’t necessarily one I’d have again; the Urraca Vendaval IPA from 8 Colina was too malty for me, it had a salty aftertaste and a hay- line smell.
The final two were also from European breweries: the Brew Note Black IPA from Polish brewery Trzech Kumpli was wholly unpleasant; watery and with a burnt coffee taste, the brewery responded to me on Untappd to say that particular beer was well past its best before date, so the jury is out on that one! Spanish brewery Cervezas Yakka introduced me to my first Grape Ale, a flavour I fell so deeply in love with that it shaped the majority of my selections in every bar for the rest of our trip.
Find it at: Cerveteca Lisboa, Praça das Flores 63, 1200-192 Lisboa
We found this place in between pasteis de nata spots, tucked surreptitiously down a busy public stairway, a few tables set outside and some stools indoors. Duque is self-proclaimed as Lisbon’s first brewpub with nine taps of locally brewed beers as well as others from around Portugal. It had the real feel of a craft beer bar; you know, that atmosphere of people wanting to enjoy their booze rather than just necking pints for the sake of it. No tasting flight for me here, but I did want to sample the brews from Duque themselves so I started with their Palestation Pale Ale.
Quite punchy at 6%, it’s a pretty standard smooth and hoppy beer, certainly enjoyable and one that could be a ‘usual’ if I was a local. Duque is the inventor of a beer that has probably surprised me the most out of any that we tried: the Duque Albino, my very first white stout. I’m not averse to a stout but it’s very rare I’d choose one outside of Ireland and the obligatory pints of Guinness. This looked like a pale ale, with the same viscosity, but it tasted like a stout. It was such a confusing experience, like eating an apple and it tasting like an orange. But not feeling full and heavy from a stout yet still having the creamy taste really blew my mind!
Find it at: Duque Brewpub, Calçada do Duque 51, 1200-156 Lisboa
If you’re looking for a pint slap bang in the centre of Lisbon, Cerveja Canil is your spot. In between beautiful Alfama and bustling Bairro Alto, and around the corner from the Santa Justa Elevator, the brewery itself is Brazilian, but the majority of the 32 taps are prepped with Portuguese beers. The list, in fact, so vast that it expands up the wall and onto the ceiling!
The bar serves food and all the tables were full of people eating, but we were just looking for a quick pint to round off our day, so we sat at the bar and chatted with the very friendly staff. The vibe was that of a bar in Camden before a gig: patros in band t-shirts and black denim, the smell of spilt beer in the air, and radio-friendly metal on the PA. I felt very at home. Being tired and also very full, I wanted something simple and not too heavy so I had Canil’s own Session IPA. It was a lovely light beer and very easy to drink, although the 5.7% ABV was a bit sneaky for a session brew!
Find it at: Cerveja Canil, R. dos Douradores 133, 1100-213 Lisboa
Outro Lado was absolutely my favourite find in Lisbon. Hidden on a little side street on the edge of Alfama, we headed here after we’d ended up eating lunch in an Instagram cafe because the grotty sandwich shop I’d planned on visiting was closed. It was very much not my sort of thing, so thankfully Outro Lado was the perfect antidote. We were the first patrons of the day and were permitted to take a couple of chairs from inside and pop them out in the sunshine.
Fondly remembering the Grape Ale I had at Cerveteca Lisboa, I started with a bottle of a Grape Ale by Portuguese brewery Mean Sardine. Despite what the internet may tell you, this is not a Saison. The grape ale is fruity of course, but it doesn’t have the tangy wheat flavour of a Saison that is often too vinegary on my palette. What it does have is an excellent blend of fruit, sour and refreshing fizz which makes it feel like the gorgeous lovechild of an ale and a cider. Sadly, it looks like Mean Sardine have stopped brewing this specific beer now, the same as the Que Syrah, Syrah from Dois Corvos which was also bloody delightful. I’m hoping they might be seasonal and come back in warmer months.
Although not Portuguese, the Beware of Dogs Gose by Slovenian brewery Reservoir Dogs is a Brut version of their grape gose and is truly divine. As someone who loves the occasional glass of white wine but avoids it because I always get a headache, this is the perfect middle ground. I tried to seek this out when I was in Slovenia but to no avail, so for now it’s part of the great memory of an afternoon in a sunny side street of Lisbon.
Find it at: Outro Lado, Beco do Arco Escuro 1, Lisboa, 1100-585
Lisbon is awash with premium cocktail spots and street-side cocktail bars serving vinho verde, but the craft beer scene is just as vibrant. It stretches across the city, from basements to rooftops and the breweries from across the country are doing some really exciting and innovative stuff. Once you’ve finished scaling the many hills of Lisbon, you’re guaranteed to find a decent pint to round off your day.