Beer in Brazil: Beware the Litrão

I’ll admit it: I’m no longer leading a singleton’s life and, as a result, I don’t go out drinking all that much anymore. But when I do, I’m always a bit taken aback by the amount of beer you manage to get through during a night-out in Brazil (taken aback by the number of bottles on the bill, anyway), and how little it feels at the time.

One-litre bottle of Skol

That’s the way they like it: a big one-litre bottle of beer, better known as a litrão.

Unlike in the UK, where you normally either buy a round of pints (or whatever) or go along buying your own drinks, in Brazil on a night-out there is normally little place for anything other than beer. Lots of it.

And with men reigning so firmly over bars in Brazil, there’s rarely any argument over how the beer is served up: in one-litre bottles of Skol, with everyone getting a little 200ml glass.

Now, I went to Cologne back in December 2008 and I remember that beer was drunk in similar-sized glasses there, but you’d buy your €2 Kölsch separately or in rounds, and because of that notion of paying for each one, you take your time a little more over it.

In Brazil, particularly if you’re in a group of four or more, a litrão – the big one-litre bottle of choice – doesn’t go very far, and because you finish your 200ml glass quickly, it of course gets filled up much more often (and, perhaps more to the point, often gets topped up by someone else without you noticing) than if you were drinking pints in the UK.

Of course it’s all relative, but in the UK I probably wouldn’t drink more than about four pints (unashamedly, probably of cider) on a proper night-out, and certainly no more than one or two for a post-work quickie.

In Brazil, because of the way you drink, you drink considerably more and definitely a lot more socially – with your fellow drinkers seemingly bending over backwards to fill up your glass and get to the bottom of the bottle, just in time to catch the waitress’s eye to ask for a couple more litrões.

That said, a litrão in a cheaper Curitiba bar normally costs around R$6-7 (around £2 or $3-3.50) so you probably won’t spend as much in Brazil even if you do go mad with the beer.

As the beer is generally pretty good in Brazil, who’s complaining…

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