Portugal has two main beers, Super Bock and Sagres, although the market has opened up to include other brands in a variety of flavours. Super Bock, made just north of Porto by the Unicer brewery, is the dominant brand, commanding around 40% of the market.
Portuguese phrases for ordering beer
Note: “Por favor” is acceptable as “please”. For a more polite form, say “se faz favor”.
- Uma cerveja por favor – a beer please.
- Duas cervejas por favor – two beers please.
- Uma cerveja grande – a pint of beer (our you can ask for “uma caneca”).
- Uma garrafa de Super Bock/Sagres – a bottle of Super Bock/Sagres.
- Um copo de vinho tinto – a glass of red wine.
- Um copo de vinho branco – a glass of white wine.
- Uma cerveza bem fresca por favor – a very cold beer please.
The main brands of Portuguese beer
For a small country of 11 million people, Portugal has a surprising number of beer brands and breweries. The largest of these are the maker of Super Bock and Cristal, Unicer, and the maker of Sagres, Central de Cervejas.
The Empresa de Cervejas de Madeira makes the popular Coral beer brand.
Super Bock’s different beer types.
- Original (5.0% ABV): A lager beer.
- Classic (5.8% ABV): A strong lager beer.
- Abadia (6.4% ABV): A dark, wheat-based beer.
- Stout (5% ABV): A black beer.
- Green (4% ABV): A sweet pils with lemon flavouring.
- Sem Álcool: Non-alcoholic variant.
Different types of Sagres beer
- Sagres (5.0% abv): is a pale lager (branca) made of 100% natural product.
- Sagres Preta (4.3% abv): is a dark Munich type of beer, moderately rich, with a pleasant caramel “bouquet”.
- Sagres Bohemia (6.2% abv): is an auburn beer, with an intense character, fruity aroma, creamy foam and a reddish amber colour. It was launched in 2005.
- Sagres Radler (2,0% abv): is made from Sagres beer together with natural citron juice.
- Sagres Sem Álcool (0,3% abv): is a light non-alcoholic beer.
- Sagres Sem Álcool Preta (0,3% abv): is a non-alcoholic dark ale beer.
Different sizes of beer in Portugal
In recent years, small stubby bottles have become popular in Portugal – these are known as “mini” beers, generally with 20cl of beer in the bottle.
Whether in bottles or cans, the different sizes of beer generally match those in the UK.
When ordering draft beer, you need to know three main words – imperial, fino and caneca.
If you want a pint, order “uma caneca”
A caneca is a pint, or 500cl of beer, usually served in a handled jug but sometimes served in a pint glass.
If you are in a restaurant or café and you order a beer (“uma cerveja”), the waiter or barman will generally give you a 300cl or smaller glass of beer. This is known as “uma imperial” in most parts of Portugal but also called “um fino” in the north.
In the north, “uma cerveja, se faz favor” will get you a “fino” by default. If you want a pint you should specifically ask for “uma caneca” or “uma caneca de Super Bock, se faz favor”.
In the Algarve, waiters may expect you to want a pint, because of all the English and Germans they are used to serving, so either ask for “uma caneca” or “uma imperial”.
A bottle is “uma garrafa”, so to order a bottle of beer, ask for “uma garrafa de cerveja” or “uma garrafa de Sagres Preta”, and so on.
And just for reference, a tin is called a “lata”. So a can of beer is “uma lata de cerveja”.
Finally, you probably like your beer cold. If you want to order a beer that’s ice cold, ask for it to be “bem fresca”. Fresca means chilled, not fresh.
How much is a beer in Portugal?
Beer in Portugal is a lot cheaper than north-western Europe. You might pay £5 for a pint in London , but in Portugal you will probably pay no more than £3 – but you will pay a lot less in lots of places.
PintPrice is a great website to keep an eye on different prices around Portugal, reported by people who have paid those prices. The website shows the average reported beer prices in different locations.
Domestic Portuguese beer brands are the cheapest. With beer being available in any café, restaurant or bar, the local Portuguese brands dominate and imported beers are uncommon, except in drinking bars or pubs.
You will find a wider range of foreign beers in the south, where there is a higher concentration of European tourists.
If you want to know why beer is cheaper in Portugal than in a country like Germany, this Guardian article explains.