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Mondial de la Biere Finds Treasure Trove of Beers in Santa Catarina, Brazil

Updated: Nov 15, 2023

By Tony Forder

One of the things I like most about working with the Mondial de la Biere is visiting and recruiting new breweries for the festivals. This year, following the 10th edition of Mondial de la Biere Rio, we ventured south into new territory for us and discovered a pandora's box of Brazilian beers. The good news is that several of them are coming to Montreal next May for the 30th anniversary of the original festival. The Mondial's aim is to showcase beers and beer styles that cannot be found locally and we certainly found them in Santa Catarina state.

I was hanging at the Jean-Talon Market in Montreal with a couple of Brazilians – guys, not the more revered Brazilian beauties. But nice guys, friends – beer guys. They were in town for the Mondial de la Biere festival this past May – Gabriel Pulcino, manager of the Mondial's satellite beerfest in Rio de Janeiro and Diego Simão, a Brazilian brewer judging in the Greg Noonan MBeer competition.

We were slurping down some oysters and drinking a bottle of white when the conversation turned to Diego's home state of Santa Catarina, and the town of Florianopolis. "You should come," he said.

We usually try and seek out Brazilian breweries after the Mondial judging and festival are over in Rio, and this year we took Diego up on his offer. He was the consummate host – arranging brewery visits, taking us to restaurants, and driving us everywhere. He even cooked us Brazilian BBQ – Churrasco – at our Airbnb.

Santa Catarina state is located about 500 miles south of Rio (1.5 hours flight) and has become quite a hotbed of craft brewing, even giving birth to Brazil's first native style, Catarina Sour. Its capital, Florianopolis, is situated on a coastal island, now a mecca for tourism with a lot of new infrastructure including modern airport. But we were there in October, spring for Brazil, still off-season (Here we go south to get warm, there, they go north!). Our crew included Mondial de la Biere president Jeannine Marois, her brother Marc and wife Denise, Mondial Rio's Gabriel Pulcino and his righthand man Wil Holtz, and myself.

Seafood is plentiful and oyster farms abound. Modern food courts with a variety of quality vendors seem to be popular here. They offer smaller, more affordable kiosk-type spaces for restaurants with shared facilities like bathrooms. Our first night venue in Floripa as it is known, offered such choices as beef specialties, pork focus, Mexican, Asian, pizza and seafood, along with a wine bar and a taproom operated by Liffey brewery, one of the first to brew Catarina Sour. Yes, they are named after the river in Dublin, but the motifs for their traditional beers are quite Irish, except for the several Catarina Sours on offer.

What is a Catarina Sour?


Catarina Sour is basically a kettle-soured brew similar to but a bit stronger than a Berliner Weisse. What really sets it apart is the addition of tropical fruits and berries – guava, passionfruit, dragonfruit, mango, strawberry, and native fruits like caju (cashew fruit) jaboticaba (a grape-like fruit) and cupuaçu (chocolatey).


There is a big lake in the middle of the island, with villages and restaurants you can only reach by boat, which we did, joining school kids returning from school on the local skiff. Diego wasted no time when we docked at our chosen restaurant, Lagua Azul, ordering us Bottarga, a local delicacy of fried Mullet roe and of course Caipirinhas. Deep fried fish and shrimp, bolinhos (baked fishballs), and moqueqa (Brazilian fish stew) were also on the menu.

Diego arranged a walking tour in the historic downtown area of Florianopolis with Rodrigo Stüpp, a Guia Manezinho. Guia is a guide (Rodrigo is the best, said Diego) and Manezinho refers to the native inhabitants of the city who number about 30% of the half million population. We met Rodrigo in the big downtown marketplace with its huge fish stands (oysters were $4 for a dozen). Tall and fast speaking with impeccable English, Rodrigo described some of Florianopolis' colonial history. Portuguese settlement began in the 1700s when Emperor Pedro sent an envoy to establish a colony. He fared well until he tangled with some pirates supposedly of British origin, who had stolen gold and treasures. On learning they were holed up on a beach on the other side of the island, he sent soldiers who successfully captured them. Imprisoned for two years, they took their revenge when released and killed the envoy. Praia dos Ingleses (English beach) still exists on the island.

Giant murals grace some of the downtown buildings, one depicting Franklin Cascaes who was very influential in helping the underprivileged; another depicting Antonieta de Barros, first black woman congresswoman in Brazil.

Top, Rodrigo, our Manezinho guide. Schoolkids, cell phones out on our boat trip.

Above, beautiful farmhouse setting of Cervejeria Unika, owner Bruno Koerich.

The crew - Gabriel Pulcino, Bruno Koerich, Jeannine Marois, Diego Simão, Wil Holtz.

It was a 2-hour drive inland to Cervejeria Unika, out of the Florianopolis traffic and through lush tropical Atlantic greenery to Rancho Quemado. German influence evident...further to the north even more pronounced at Blumenau where Oktoberfest (2nd largest in the world after Munich), was still in full swing, having been postponed due to floods.

Muddy roads testified to recent rains here too as we penetrated to Unika, situated on beautiful farmland. Bruno Koerich related the story of homebrew (learned in Australia where he spent two years) to startup to current beautifully housed brewery. Like many area breweries, they make a full range of styles.

It's a father and son operation, plus head brewer and staff. Forward thinking. Mostly kegs to supply their 10 bars in the Florianopolis area. Retiring bottles to do cans.

Returning to Floripa we stopped at Diego's own brewery, Cozalinda. In fact, it is a blendery. Diego receives wort from various breweries and fills his barrels which are impregnated with a wild yeast that he cultured from microorganisms in the juice of the Cassava plant. You can't get much more native than that. Cassava - Mandioca as it is called in Portuguese is central to Brazilian culture and cuisine featuring tapioca and farofa, which is cassava flour toasted with bacon and spices accompanying many Brazilian dishes. It also has a history in the brewing of Amazonian tribal brews called Cauim and Caxiri.

Top, tanks at Káiros, brewer and host Diego Simão in the Cozalinda blendery.

Psychedelic can art at Fermi's Paradoxical Alien bar; tap list at Armada taphouse.

You could say that Diego is a Mandioca maniac. Last year he launched Manipueira, a project that grew out of a wild beer collaboration between Diego's Cozalinda and Zalaz in Minas Gerais state. They enlisted the help of Abracerva, the Brazilian Craft Beer Association, to bring together breweries throughout the country using spontaneously fermented Manipueiras, or casava juice. Guidelines for the project included a neutral malt bill, between 70% and 90% pilsner barley malt, between 1.5% and 10% cassava, optional use of wheat, oats and rye, but no other dark malts or adjuncts and IBUs between 8 and 12. No temperature controls, fermentation in wooden barrels only.

Diego said the project was designed to celebrate the culture and heritage of Brazil's first inhabitants and highlight the effect of different terroirs. "Considering that the work is all local Brazilian microorganisms, and fermented at room temperature, each beer will be a translation of influences from each region," he said.

Roughly 30 breweries took part in the project, and we tasted three of them while in Santa Catarina – one at Unika, one at Cozalinda and one at Kairos brewery. They were all similar but wildly different, pun intended.

Diego was involved in another project at Kàiros – Chicha. When we visited the brewers were busy brewing up Chicha, the indigenous corn-based brew, to make what some South American breweries are calling Contemporary Chicha – look for a new judging category coming to a competition near you! Some of the wort was slated for Cozalinda's barrels. Káiros, one of the larger Florianopolis breweries is more production style, supplying the local area and beyond.

Also visited was the Paradoxical Alien bar by Fermi brewery. You might think you're on a different planet here, but the delicious beers will bring you back to earth. Spacey, psychedelic labels adorn their cans while the contents exhibit adventurous ingredients. Starlink, for example, a collaboration with Dude Brewing, is a cocktail-inspired sour with cold brew coffee, strawberry and mint.

The 30th edition of the Mondial de la Biere festival takes place in Montreal May 24-26, 2024.

Brazilian and Belgian pavilions will highlight the fest along with winners of the Canadian Beer Cup in the Petit Pub. And of course the best of Quebec brews.

댓글 1개

Simon Pargeter
Simon Pargeter
2023년 11월 14일

Fascinating, really great to see how creative and innovative the brewing process is when combined with ancient regional ingredients traditions and practices.

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