Brazil v Ireland – The beer game
The one thing that you’ll notice when you visit one of BH’s million botecos (pubs) is the extremely oversized beer fridges, given free of charge by the beer companies in order to show off their products. Illuminating from the fridges are the accompanying oversized digital temperature readers, informing the whole world, that yes!, our beer is kept at -5ºc. I got the impression that here it’s considered kind of cool, and the more fridges you have, the better, meaning there’ll always be a cold one waiting and many of them. In Ireland for example, fridges are always kept hidden away from customers eyes; it would be considered kind of cheesy to have a huge green Heineken fridge sticking out in a traditional Irish bar, for example. Brand fridges are a defo no no. But you see here in Brazil, if you take a look around at your fellow clients, you’ll see that, 99% of people are drinking large pint-sized bottles of beers or garrafas as they’re called. “Pint sized bottles…each? Savages! – I like it!”, you might think, but actually no, they’re actually sharing a bottle between them, crazy right?! Even the chicks girls are joining in, no G&T’s here darlings, you’re in a boteco, not the Ritz. So actually in defense of the botecos, it seems they need to have multitudes of big ugly fridges in order to store their big bottles of beer, because God forbid, if you ran out of beer in a boteco, the Brazilians might actually revolt!
So why is it that Mineros prefer to drink these large cheap bottles of beers (around €2) more than anything else? Some might say that it’s because Mineros are famous for being, how should I put this without getting death threats, erm “careful” with their money or as they say “pão duro”, the literal translation meaning ‘hard bread’. The expression hides the true meaning quite well i.e. ‘cheap skate’ or as we’d mutter in Dublin ‘tight fecker’. This definitely might add to the case, but I think the reason is a culture one, Mineros and, I think Brazilians in general, simply just like drinking beer. I suppose, drinking beer and sitting in the sun, has always gone hand in hand. But if you do manage to get over here, and taste the beer, you’d see, that it’s actually quite light, that it doesn’t even have much of a flavour to it. Excuse me if I sound like I have a drink problem, but what’s the point then? Sure you’d be all weekend trying to get pist. So why bother? Well, I think I’ve finally figured it out. There may actually be method behind Minero madness. But you’re going to have to wait for that one, and I’ll tell you my thoughts in a week or so.
Now getting back to the beer, there is one thing that is nearly as important as the beer itself – it has to be feckin freezing freezing freezing freezing feckin cold. If not, send it back. It’d be like getting a bad pint of Guinness in Ireland, and the way us islanders talk, sure the bar would be burned down that evening. Brazilians are doidos - crazy – about freezing cold beer! I agree, larger, should definitely be served cold, but that cold, why? Well, apart from the already mentioned heat factor, the story goes that when Brazilians started brewing beer years ago, it tasted so bad, that they’d serve it at freezing temperatures in order to mask the taste (you know, the same way you make your home-made curries spicy, otherwise none of your mates will eat it) so now, it’s just part of the culture and very much expected when serving it.
So when all you millions come over for the world cup and you go to your first boteco here, please for God sakes, stick to the rules, or your new Brazilian friend ‘Adriano’ will cut the feckin the hand off you. And whatever you do, don’t do the typically Irish thing, a garrafa of beer is to be shared, it’s not just for you ok?! (I may have done this once or trice on arriving here) But listen, to help my fellow gringos adapt, I’ve compiled some tips to help you have an ótimo – great time here and blend in well with the locals.
Rules for drinking beer in Brazil
- You should test the coldness by slightly touching the bottle before allowing the waiter to open it, but not too much now because if it is ok, well then, any unnecessary over touching of the bottle will only make it warmer! It should be “estupidamente gelada” – stupidily freezing, so much that you can’t make out the brand label on the bottle due to the tin layer of ice covering it. It’s what they call véu da nova – the brides veil. If it doesn’t peel the skin off your fingers, well then to the waiter, you say this:”Uai cara, esta cerveja está quente!” – “Hey man, whats the story? You keeping the beers in the oven!?” To this, they will replace it with no fuss.
- When pouring the beer, grasp bottle by neck, and quickly distribute it into the small cute glasses provided preventing prolonged touching of said bottle as for the already aforementioned reason.
- Upon distribution, you then must raise your glass and say “Saude” (health) lightly touching the other persons glass, and then strangely enough the bottle of beer itself, kind of like, the indians ‘thanking’ the bison for ‘offering’ itself after they killed it with 20 arrows. Of course, all this is done extremely quickly as the instant the beer has touched the inside of the glasses, it’s already getting warm, you need to waste no time drinking the stuff.
- Important note here, don’t keep the cute glasses of beer in hand while you are conversing, again this will warm the glass thus warming the beer, and possibly resulting in filthy looks from the Adrianos of this world and such disgraceful comment as “you Irish have no idea how to drink” which could result in said beer being thrown over said Adriano. The same also goes if you are drinking a long neck, if you do have to hold it, hold it by its neck, and if possible, do it with your index finger and thumb.
- Now that everyone is served, the ceremonies are finished, and the mandioca & linquiça has been ordered. This is when the game starts, the idea being too drink the bottle of beer while the beer stays cold.
- Then, when the last cold crop has been drained, and even before you can blink, suddenly, from out of nowhere, a new bottle has been opened, glasses have been filled, and all that remain of the presence of a waitress will be an icy smoke rising from the bottle (appreciate it, it’s probably the fastest you’ll ever see Brazilians move).
And for the Brazilians in Ireland…
Rules for drinking beer In Ireland
1. Order it, grab it, drink it - no analysing, fondling, or praying required.