The Holborn has not long returned from a tour around Brazil, off we went Panama Hat and linen suit delicately packed to discover the delights of Rio & Sao Paulo. As an aside a trip highlight was when a fellow traveller turned while trekking up a steep street in the hills of Rio and said ‘your dressed like a 19th Century explorer’ – oh how we blushed. Moving on though from that particular vanity, various dispatches are being formed from the many delights we discovered but we start with a discovery we as a naive Brit did not expect to come across- The Brazilian Craft Beer Scene.
Fully expecting to be drinking humdrum ice cold Pilsner for weeks, well at least when one couldn’t get a gin fizz, we discovered a strong underbelly of IPAs, Pale ales and the occasional Imperial Stout. It’s not quite London or New York yet, and those Pilsner do still abound, but it wasn’t too difficult to find a nearby hopy beverage. In particular European Bar imports in the form of Brussels’ Delirium Cafe in Rio and Glasgow’s BrewDog in Sao Paulo house both a impressive collection of Brazilian Craft Beer and beer from around the globe.
Having experienced this revelation, the task of sampling as much as we could was undertaken. Our favourite brewery after a hard few weeks drinking was 2 cabeças (Two Heads in English), and we decided to get in touch with them and find out a bit more;
Bernardo, tell us about how 2 cabeças started.
We all were home brewers, I started as a home brewer in 2009, and we were looking to launch a brand. So, we started 2 cabeças in 2012 based on the gipsy brewery model, we were one of the first companies to do that in Brazil. I now share the responsibility of creating and run the brewing operation with Maíra Kimura.
What inspired you to become a brewer?
I wanted to make and create things, instead of only buy them. Nowadays, I think that also represents a form of art, something I always had close to me and kind of had lost that as the years went by. And beer was the way I found to fulfill that impluse to create, with no commercial intent at the beginning. But then, I saw that I could make a living out of it and I went for it.
How do you come up with your recipes? Tell us about some of your beers.
I usually try a beer or some food and it either blows my mind, or I feel it is lacking something. In both situations I have in my mind how would I do that, to replicate those flavours or improve them, and then give it a shot at home. We have a passion fruit IPA called Maracujipa. I was so in love with American hops I thought: “Well, why can’t I get that delicious aroma from the fruit, instead of the hops?” And it worked out very well, hops and passion fruit.
I’m really into Saisons and IPAs, so we have a session IPA, passion Fruit IPA and a Black IPA. Its funny cause we have three IPAs, but we don’t a classic one. Now we have two collaborative Saisons. One is called Caramba!, and we brewed with Stillwater Artisanal Ales, which was a big honour for us. Brian, from Stillwater, always wanted to brew a saison with star-fruit, and had a batch test a year before with the fruit. It came out very dry, refreshing.
We also have Saison à Trois, in collaboration with Cervejaria Invicta. We had two gold medals in South America this year with that beer. Its a classic saison, dry hopped with Saaz and with a hint of coriander seed.
And also this year we release a beer with Brewdog, called Hello my Name is Zé. It is also a passion fruit IPA, a mix between Maracujipa and Jack Hammer.
What is the Brazilian Craft Beer scene like? Is their a hunger for exploring more beer outside of traditional Pilsners?
Its is changing. But most of the breweries still rely on a good yellow lager as a starting point. But we are seeing a change, even more traditional Breweries are now trying IPAs and Imperial Stouts. And the number of beer fans is growing very fast, and as they try some imported beer, the want us to have the same approach. So that is helping to grow the scene.
So, we have many German focused breweries, but also many going in the American way, using tons of hops and attitude.
You collaborated with the UK’s own Brewdog Brewery on the beer ‘Hello My Name is Ze’. How did that come about?
We all started as home brewers, so that helped us to get know and get along, when James from Brewdog was here in 2012. We love Brewdog beers, and their attitude. I still can’t believe we have made beers with Brewdog and Stillwater in 2014.
They wanted a local ingredient, and the Brazillian importer, Giba, loves Maracujipa. So, we decided to use passion fruit in a IPA, but with the Brewdog style, with loads of dry hopping. Its is a big success here in Brazil.
What is the personal experience like of creating a quality product and seeing people enjoying it?
That is probably the most important thing. Trying to create the best beer you can and see how people like that product. That is what keeps my head working, and all the 2 cabeças team! It is so crazy to see people drinking your beer and saying that one is one of best they tried in their whole life. The flip side is then having to deal with problems, bad bottles, also people not used to beer like this saying it is too bitter and therefore in their eyes not beer.
What does the future hold for 2 cabeças?
Good question! I would say more unique beers, more collaboration. Sharing beer with old friends, making new ones… that is the goal!
2 cabeças Beers are hard to get hold of in the UK – we suggested heading down to a Brewdog Bar and sampling a ‘Hello My Name is Ze’ or following our footsteps to Brazil and spending a few weeks sat in bars wearing linen suits.
Interview by Morgan Hamilton-Griffin