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Big Mania Brewery

Community
4/1/21
Community
4/1/21
A tale of three breweries

By David Lugg

Anyone fancy a beer? How about a Blueberry Peanut Butter Pancake Pastry Sour? Or maybe a Caramel Fudge Stout?




A tale of three breweries

By David Lugg

Anyone fancy a beer? How about a Blueberry Peanut Butter Pancake Pastry Sour? Or maybe a Caramel Fudge Stout?


It’s fair to say that the variety of craft ale is now nothing short of staggering. The industry has been growing exponentially as many small breweries struggle to keep up with demand. However, an internet search of Craft Ale Algarve will reveal surprisingly few results. In a region where we welcome three and half million tourists per year, something is clearly amiss.

Serious craft ale drinkers care passionately about their beer and not only about the flavour. To them, craft ale is more than just a social drink with friends; it is a community. A group of independent breweries exist, not only to make a living, but to produce something they love. Unlike the ubiquitous multinational brands, their customers feel a sense of trust. These are people they can relate to. The ordinary man or woman brewing beer from their garage or shed or industrial estate unit. So why then does the Algarve appear to be desperately short of craft ale producers?

Step forward three local breweries that have managed to get their foot on the slippery beer ladder. Mania Brewery plans to relocate to a plant just outside Lagos in early 2021. Head brewer Stefan Hunold explains why he will take residence outside of town rather than in the centre of bustling Lagos: “There is no doubt that people are looking for local craft ale when they visit the Algarve, but setting up a taproom in Lagos has proved to be too expensive”.

Business rates are indeed high in the city, especially when you factor in that the tourist season only lasts around seven or eight months. That leaves four to five months with very little income. When Stefan moved to the Algarve eight years ago, he was disillusioned by the lack of good quality beer available. He created Mania and now produces eight beers of his own, albeit on a small production scale.

Someone who shares a similar frustration is Vicentina head brewer Olivier Vincent who believes the Algarve “has a long way to go” if it wants to start challenging the likes of Spain or the UK in beer bragging rights. “There is so much legislation here in Portugal,” he explains. “It makes it very difficult for one guy with a small business to succeed.” His frustration is evident as he talks about the “red tape” he has faced on every turn. For new businesses, it seems that this legislation is not only a hindrance but a deterrent. He adds, “with so many barley fields, the Algarve has a lot of potential”, but for Vicentina to break into an industry dominated by Superbock and (Heineken-owned) Sagres, the current situation is, as he puts it “almost impossible”.

www.mania.beer

www.facebook.com/cerveja.vicentina



Dos Santos brewery vineyards

www.dossantoscraftbeer.com



Dos Santos Brewery is nestled handsomely within the vineyards of Quinta Dos Santos wine farm near Carvoeiro. Its idyllic situation has led to the addition of a taproom and tapas bar, which has proven to be extremely popular with both tourists and locals alike.

In contrast to the breweries of Vicentina and Mania, Dos Santos has benefitted from generous financial assistance. However, the journey has been far from smooth, as head brewer Greg Dos Santos knows only too well. “Simply put, without the financial backing of my family, we would have had to close down. There are so many rules and regulations that it actively discourages you from wanting to start a business.” He talks about an exorbitant 'compensation tax' that had to be paid as building in the countryside was classified as 'urbanisation'. Yet, one look at the sublime setting and there is a strong argument that the brewery has brought much to the area, not just visibly, but also for the local economy. You get a sense that Dos Santos Brewery has paid its compensation many times over.

Mania, Vicentina and Dos Santos are three examples of independent breweries that are shining lights in a struggling market. Their efforts thus far should be commended, but they are under no illusion about the difficulties that lie ahead if they wish to expand and become more commonplace in bars, restaurants and supermarkets.

2021 will bring great changes to the world and even greater challenges. It will be a time where we must welcome innovation and embrace a new way of thinking. One sure-fire way to do this will be to encourage the creation of new businesses to help kickstart our economies. If the Algarve wishes to inspire a bright, young generation then it must set an example and not smother it with rules and legislation that will extinguish the flames of inspiration before they have been truly lit. Business creates employment and employment creates taxes which in turn fuels the economy. It’s quite simple. Then, and only then, can we all sit down and share a Caramel Fudge Stout together.


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This article is in
the January edition


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This article is in
the January edition


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