|Nighttime festivities at the|
ARTBEERFEST in Caminha:
Packed like Portuguese sardines.
This year's ARTBEERFEST is the sixth -- and they just keep growing every year. Most of the visitors come from Portugal and neighboring Spain, but also from all over Europe and even America.
And of course, this year there were Mr. & Mrs. Old Blogger from Israel.
The festival did not cover a huge area; just over two compact courtyards in the center of town. But that was enough space to have 50 craft brewers pouring their beers; brewers from Portugal and Spain, Greece and Scotland, Norway and the U.S. For the first time, there was also an Israeli beer -- Alexander.
|The old blogger joins Filipe Macieira (left)|
of the Letra Brewery, and Octavio Costa,
for a stroll through Caminha.
"We picked Caminha for the ARTBEERFEST because that's where I live," says Octavio Costa, the head of OG & Associados, responsible for organizing the ARTBEERFEST and more than a dozen other beer festivals and Portugal and Europe.
"Beer festivals bring people together," gushes Octavio, "and this is a cool place to do it."
|Caminha welcomes visitors|
to the ARTBEERFEST.
Octavio has been interested in bringing an Israeli brewer to the ARTBEERFEST for several years. "I'm half-Jewish," he announces, "and I want Israeli beers to have visibility here."
[Many Portuguese will tell you that they can trace Jewish roots back to the forced conversions and the Inquisition in the 15th and 16th centuries.]
A couple of years ago, Octavio approached the old blogger to help him find an Israeli brewer who would exhibit at the ARTBEERFEST and consider making a collaboration beer in Portugal. I tried, but without success.
|The collaboration team that almost was:|
Ori Sagy of Alexander and
Gonçalo Faustino of Maldita (center),
joined by Alexander brewers
Sahar Nevo and Elad Gassner.
introduced Octavio to Ori Sagy, owner of the Alexander Brewery in Emek Hefer. Ori did not have to be persuaded very much to agree.
For the future, Octavio is thinking big. "I would like to bring Portuguese and other brewers to Israel. Yes, I think we can arrange a beer festival in Israel on a par with those we are organizing in Europe. That would really put Israeli beers on the map."
"As we say," I told Octavio, "'If you will it, it's no dream.'"
In Caminha, I met Ori Sagy on the last day of the festival with two of his brewers, Sahar Nevo and Elad Gassner. He had completely sold out all of his beers except the Amber Ale, so that's what we drank.
|All the participating brewers arrive for|
the ARTBEERFEST in Caminha.
The best laid plan for Ori bringing Alexander to the ARTBEERFEST was to have been a collaboration beer -- the first collab in fact between an Israeli and a Portuguese brewery.
|A promotion for Portuguese|
craft beer awaited us at the hotel.
I was dreaming of drinking a great beer and writing a great story.
My dear readers, I have to disappoint you -- about the beer that is. The story may still be worth reading.
A technical hitch prevented the beer from being brewed on the day after the festival, and since Ori Sagy had to leave right after that, the collab beer was put on hold indefinitely.
However, Trudy and I did get to drink some fine beers at the ARTBEERFEST. Here are a few of them:
|Ruben from the Dos Santos Brewery|
offered some specialty beers on tap.
|Daniel Ramiro, head brewer at the Mean Sardine,|
didn't let me say, "Enough!"
Daniel insisted that I try three other Mean Sardine beers -- a Barley Wine made with mazcal, and two very piney IPAs: a Black IPA (Voragem), and a West Coast IPA (Tormenta).
|Seven Island brewer Costa Pougatsias (left)|
welcomed visitors under the Caminha full moon.
|A one-man band kept visitors entertained.|
The Bahama Papa contains coconut, pineapple and passion fruit, while the Very Berry is brewed with raspberries and blackberries. I have never tasted more enjoyable kettle-soured beers, with an excellent blending of fruit flavors, a sour level that lets them shine through, and a malt backbone that never lets you forget you're drinking beer.
|Andrew Pearson (left), founder of the|
Scottish group Beer Without Borders,
cut an inspiring highlandish figure in his kilt.
It was no surprise when Costa told me that Seven Island has won eight awards in European competitions -- and that's before they even have their own brewery!
I also met some U.S. brewers who had come to the ARTBEERFEST.
|Just being tourists: The old blogger and Trudy|
near the famous Sintra Castle.
Gigantic Brewery from Portland, Oregon, a city known for its many excellent craft breweries, honored me with a Double IPA aged in gin barrels, another first for me and a literal eye-opener.
|On a touring break, drinking fine |
Keep that a secret!
I thought I had one too many when I saw these guys walking around in kilts, which I was sure were not the Portuguese national costume. I blinked a few times but they were still there, so I went up and introduced myself. Andrew Pearson, friendly and loquacious, shook my hand and told me the story of Beer Without Borders, an organization he founded to forge close links between Scottish and European craft brewers.
"We participate in festivals, encourage collaboration beers, and support exporting into each other's market," Andrew said. "This is our first time at the ARTBEERFEST and we brought four Scottish breweries with us. We won't let Brexit separate us from Europe!"
Trudy and I enjoyed meeting the people, drinking the beers and absorbing the ambiance at ARTBEERFEST.
As is usually the case with me at beer festivals, friendly brewers insist that I try another beer, and another taste of this, and a sip of that. And I was raised too polite to refuse.
|Mass-brewed beer, but very pleasant:|
Super Bock and 1927 beer on tap in
a Lisbon restaurant.
It was a great ending to a beer-centered festival. The music and the food stayed in the background and the beer stayed in our bellies.
|Enjoying Sovina Amber Ale, a widely available|
Portuguese craft beer.
We thoroughly enjoyed visiting Portugal, a country that is becoming one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. And the ARTBEERFEST in Caminha was the cherry on the whipped cream -- or as we prefer to say, the foam on the beer.