Beer and botequins

I'm not much of a beer drinker. Occasionally I’ll crave a Blue Moon with pizza or a Corona with guacamole and chips, and yes there was a time when I counted down the days until $1 Bud Ice Night at a certain bar (back when Zima was in style). But in Brazil, I’m all about beer. When I’m not sipping a fresh fruit juice or caipirinha of course.

Brazilians love their beer and although there are a few ways they like to drink it, one thing is very important: it has to be extremely cold.

On the beach, most people usually drink from uma lata (a can). When groups of friends get together, it's common to order a few garrafas which are similar in size to an American 40 oz bottle.

The beer is then divided among everyone in little glasses, and it's always nice and frosty.

And then there’s chopp (pronounced show-peh), Brazilian draft beer.

A light pilsner, chopp is perfect by itself or with just about any type of meal. And it’s what you’ll find most Cariocas drinking at botequins, open-air bars where loud and lively crowds often spill onto the street.

In the photo above, it might seem like a chopp is the same size as a pint of beer, but it's actually a lot smaller. And, what's even better in my opinion are choppinhos –- little chopps. They're perfect for slow sippers like myself who always seem to end up with luke-warm beer.

There are many places that Cariocas go to tomar um chopp, but my favorite place of all is Jobi. When I was living in Brazil, my friend Mona planned a 2-week trip to visit me -- and ended up staying a month. We spent many nights laughing and practicing our Portuguese over chopps at Jobi. And without fail, everytime we were there, she had to pay tribute to her new favorite bar by singing the Gypsy Kings song Djobi Djoba.

Jobi is a great place to sample salgadinhos (Brazilian snacks or literally translated –- little salties) such as bolinhos de bacalhau (salt cod fritters) and coxinhas (chicken croquettes). They also serve a bunch of traditional Brazilian dishes including my first love, frango com catupiry (chicken smothered in a cream cheese-like sauce).

For our first night out on this past trip, Daniel and I shared chopps with a group of friends at Bracarense, one of Rio’s most classic botequins, and then had a midnight meal of carne seca (salted beef that's dried in the sun) at Informal just a few blocks away.

It was a sticky night, but that didn't stop me from first ordering my favorite bar snack, um caldo de feijão (black bean soup) which comes with dried pork rinds and diced parsley. Served steaming hot, it’s a great thing to slurp while nursing a cold chopp.

Since glasses of chopp are small, it's normal to order round after round and pay at the end of the evening. To keep track, waiters keep a running count with numbered coasters. And even though chopps are often a little more expensive than canned or bottled beer, at just 1-2 reais each (50 cents to $1), they're still an unbelievable bargain.

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Patricia Scarpin said...


I must confess something... I love beer!!! lol

It's wonderful to have those snacks while sipping a very, very cold beer.

My husband has been asking for coxinha for a long time, maybe I'll make some for him and then post the recipe.

I love your photos!

Judith said...

I actually had the pleasure of downing a chopp of Brahma (which I believe is Brazil's most popular beer) at Jobi in August. To be honest, I wasn't blown away by Brahma, but I understand it's more about how cold it is than how good it tastes. Then again, I would much rather have a glass of wine than a beer.

Anyway, I was recently at 66 Water St. in DUMBO here in Brooklyn and I was very surprised to see a tub of Brahma on ice sitting on the bar. I guess enough people are craving a taste of Brazil that you don't have to travel too far to get one.

Lia said...

Patricia, I'd love for you to post a coxinha recipe. It would inspire me to make some for Daniel!

Judith, it is all about the temperature. And I'm never even sure which specific brand I'm drinking when I have a chopp. Being that I'm not much of a beer connoisseur, they all taste pretty similar to me. But they sure beat the $12 cocktails and overpriced beer we have in our city, don't you think?



Very nice pics and coments about brazil. Your blog is wonderfull!



Lia said...

Thanks Mario! I'll have to check out your blog as well.


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