Updated: Dec 20, 2021
Mondial de la Biere Festival – Bringin' it Back to Brazil
By Tony Forder
Black Friday, day after turkey, airports are empty, I'm still giving Thanks.
Got my Covid test neg but they spelled my name wrong; got it fixed.
I'm still giving Thanks, bought a lady a drink at the bar, she returned the favor on board.
In the exit row, next to a United flight attendant from Netherlands flying deadhead.
Told me about all the good things United is doing and all the new aircraft coming.
United only doing one drink service, but he got me another. Discussed the Divided States of America from a refreshing European perspective - agreed no middle ground is the problem.
He suggested I go to the United Club during my Houston layover. Good idea and I do have a pass. More wine. Still giving Thanks. A 68-year-old ethnically classic looking lady on her way to Corpus Christi; I offered her a hug – she joked, he's sweet, I'd like to take him home! Man who said he had two grandchildren at my alma mater Humboldt State In Cali, going on a cruise to Antarctica with his son. Next leg, the overnight to Rio - blackout.
Landing in warm Rio, immediate chill vibes, back after more than two years. In the taxi to Ipanema, the Air BnB. Yes!
Gee, but it's good to be back home...2nd home that is for Montreal's Mondial de la Biere festival. Let's face it, it's good to be anywhere but home – locked-down, masked-up, gets to wearin' thin, if you can't get some truckin' on.
Not that they're not wearing masks in Rio. They are, although it's not the biggest priority. When I learned that Rio is 99% vaccinated I felt a lot less nervous about everything. Despite what you may have heard about Brazilian President Bolsonaro (who some call a Trump wannabe), Brazil has a pretty good health system and the people are not scared of vaccines, which have eradicated several diseases in the not so distant past.
This was Mondial Rio #8 – obviously skipping last year. I've been at every one of 'em and it's been pretty amazing observing the evolution of Brazilian craft beer. It's been rapid since that first fest in 2013. And I have to say that, although they still represent a very niche market share, in terms of craft beer quality, they've pretty much caught up. Festival #7, 2019
The MBeer Medal Contest
In front of and behind the scenes. Top left is Contest Coordinator Marilou Caty. Judges - 5 female, 4 male – at work and outside. Women are very strong in the Brazilian beer sommelier field. Four of these beers won gold medals.
The MBeer medal contest was different for me this time. Instead of judging I was helping on the other side of the curtain, organizing the beers and pouring samples (and yes, tasting a few).
The judges liked sour. Out of 11 gold medals and one platinum, five of them were in the Catherina Sour style*. There were also a sour coffee, a Brett, and an Oud Bruin. Two of the other four medals were awarded to Barleywines, one to a 25% abv Eisbock, and just one to a New England IPA, even though many were entered into the competition. There were also a lot of imperial stouts, but none made it to the podium. Winners list.
Top left, on stage MBeer contest awards; right, with festival manager Gabriel Pulcini, Mondial President Jeannine Marois, Julia Dos Passos de Gusmao, Mariolou Caty, Marc Marois, self. Below, offerings from Bodebrown Brewery.
Mountains rising out of the ocean; the girl from Ipanema?; dangerous currents, incessant vendors, crashing waves; Barraca.
There are beaches all around Rio but the three main ones are Copacabana, the most crowded, Ipanema and Leblon. The boardwalks are lined with kiosk/cafes and the beaches are dotted with super friendly Baracas, who will supply your deckchairs and umbrellas and mix your Caipirinhas (Cachaca, limes, sugar and ice cocktail).
Rio rocks to an incessant beat
Always action on the street
Cafes are full, color and noise
It's the weekend, girls and boys
Not so long since all was quiet
Covid forced business diet
But life continues all around
Carioca spirit can't be drowned
That said, it was announced that the annual New Year's fireworks beach party has been cancelled and there's talk that next February's Carnival might also be cancelled again as it was in 2021, the first time in 108 years.
Also there was a bit of a pandemic going around Rio when we left, but it was the regular flu, not Covid. And, yes, the Mondial de la Biere is scheduled for Rio in 2022 – dates TBA.