I recently had the exciting opportunity to visit a brewery in Lisbon making craft beer, something that is quite rare in Portugal. Unlike the US and UK where the craft beer movement has been in full swing for quite a while, craft beer brewing and home brewing are just starting to become popular in Portugal. Generally most bars serve the ubiquitous Sagres and Super Bock, with the occasional Heineken, but one man in Lisbon is working hard to change that.
I met Gonçalo through Airbnb, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite websites to rent places to stay while traveling. He is the owner and master brewer of Sant'Ana LX Brewery, a place where your craft beer dreams become reality. He rents out a lovely apartment very close to the brewery where I had the pleasure of staying while I was in Lisbon. In addition to coming up with the recipes, brewing the beer, bottling it, and distributing his creations locally, Gonçalo and his team have supplied many companies and homebrewing individuals with the tools and advice necessary to create their own beer.
Though Sant'Ana has a few popular favorites, Gonçalo says he really likes to change up the recipes and constantly create new and different types of beer. One of his favorites (and the most popular) is Sant'Ana's IPA. Gonçalo's desire to experiment has resulted in many amazing flavors that are sometimes only available for a limited time in Lisbon.
The day that I visited to shoot, Gonçalo, his father, and his friends were bottling up a new experimental beer that they had recently brewed. Several large fermenters were lined up against a wall with their soon-to-be much enjoyed contents inside. People moved back and forth, rinsing out buckets, cleaning and filling bottles, stirring up some mysterious concoction that would be added to the next batch.
I even had the opportunity to try a couple of the beers Sant'Ana makes while I was there, including the IPA, which was delightfully fresh and hoppy (but not overwhelmingly so, like some American versions can be). If you want to experience these amazing craft beers, just head over to the website and click on the Onde Beber? section to see a map showing the bars that carry Sant'Ana LX's beer. Currently their distribution is only in the Lisbon area, but as the craft beer movement picks up across the country, it's likely we'll see them in other parts of Portugal.
In addition to making their own beer, Sant'Ana LX sells brewing supplies to other artisanal breweries in Portugal (some noteworthy companies include Mean Sardine and Amphora) and to people who want to create their own beer at home.
I'd like to thank Gonçalo and his team for allowing me to photograph inside their factory of tasty alcoholic delights. Sant'Ana LX's beer is yet another thing to look forward to next time I'm in Lisbon. Make sure you don't miss out on Portugal's small, but amazing selection of craft beer during your next visit!