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How to order beer in Portugal

Beer caneca

How to order beer in PortugalPortugal 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 “um 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 “um 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.

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4 Comments

  1. Jason Tanner

    While in the Azores islands, Terceira specifically, we had a fino that was red, they added something, I think called rosella or grosela, to it. It made the beer slightly sweet and fruity. Do you know what this stuff is and maybe where we can order some?

  2. Paul Narramore

    Is there the equivalent of real ale or craft beers in Portugal. We are attending a classic car rally in Ericeire in July.

    • Expatter

      Real ale is really hard to find in Portugal. There are some bars in Ericeira that sell international beers, but the market is generally used to lager or stout. Guinness is easy to find.

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