The craft beer scene in the Algarve remains relatively untapped (as it were), but there are some positive signs of progression. Step forward Algarve Rock Brewery who, this summer, have turned their premises into a series of mini beer festivals. ‘Rock Fridays’ takes place on the first Friday of each of the summer months and has proven to be a big success. David Lugg went to Faro to sample the scene.
The first thing you notice as you arrive is the sheer size of the brewery – ideal for producing each of Algarve Rock’s ten craft beers, but perfect also for hosting evenings of live music and beer tasting. The atmosphere is spirited and convivial, no doubt fuelled by the busy bar and accompanying rock band. A Mexican street-food truck offers sustenance and a welcome accompaniment to soak up the booze. The smiles on the faces of the punters tells you everything you need to know.
I head to the bar to sample some of the produce. Algarve Rock offers some excellent easy-drinking beers such as the fruity ‘Rock Steady Pale Ale’ and the pleasant ‘Rock Climber IPA’, but for me, the selling point of the brewery lies in its variety. They offer an Orange DIPA that is as delicious as it is bitter and malty. Then there is the crisp and surprisingly tasty ‘Piri-Piri Pilsner which does indeed have a faint edge of warmth from the chilli. I soon decide that my favourite is the ‘Raspberry Gose’ – a marvellously flavoursome, ‘sour’ beer perfect for hot Algarve nights such as this.
I seek out commercial manager Darren Berry for a little more insight. Darren tells me that they had a change of ownership in 2021 and all the beers are new recipes – this is very much a new venture. I commend him on having such a broad range of craft beer, especially in a region that has long been dominated by Superbock and Sagres. “We’re not scared to try a few new things” he says. “We have a successful core range of beers, but we’re not afraid to be adventurous”.
‘Adventure’ seems to be at the core of the company. Darren himself only recently arrived from South Africa where he ran his own brewery for five years. Within a few months, they had set up the ‘Rock Fridays’ programme and on September 9th and 10th, they will be launching their first ever Tiny Keg festival – ‘A celebration of Portuguese Craft Beer in Cans’. If the event is anything like ‘Rock Fridays’ then it promises to be well worth a visit.
So, to the future! After the summer sessions have ended, what is the next step for Algarve Rock Brewery? “We are in a period of consolidation for the moment,” Darren tells me. “But we plan to brew some new beers going forward. In fact, we have a new gluten-free table beer coming very soon“. Darren readily admits that the expansion of craft beer in the Algarve is a slow process, especially as a lot of people are not used to seeing beer in cans, but the future looks bright. I think I’ll pour myself another raspberry gose.
The final ‘Rock Friday’ of the season will take place on Friday 2nd September from 18:00-23:00 at the Algarve Rock brewery in Faro – 5€ entrance (pay on arrival)