The original annual OktoberFest doesn’t need much of an introduction as Germany’s biggest event of the year, and the world’s most celebrated folk festival - drinking beer expertly is only a part of the cultural event where one wears typical Bavarian attire, enjoys a spot of dancing or one of dozens of fairground rides. In October every year, over seven million people descend on Munich to drink as much as they can (over 7.5 million litres apparently) in super-sized beer mugs known as beer stein. The top tourist visitors include North Americans (it is also celebrated across the US in large and small gatherings as it is in Brazil to accommodate vast German and Austrian communities), British, Austrians, French, Swiss, Australians and Italians to name a few. Finally, Lisbon is joining in the fun, hosted by the Hub Criativo do Beato.
Lisboetas (people from Lisbon) are partial to beer and to parties, with a long history of beer drinking and beer companies across the country and former colonies and a surprisingly good nightlife. Legend has it that beer arrived in Portugal way back when it was called Lusitania (‘Luso-’ today implies anything from Portugal) where the inhabitants of the Iberian Peninsula (Lusitanos), pre-Romans, lived off the lay of the land which included making beer from barley. Under the Roman empire beer gave way to wine as the preferred drink. Then came the Barbarians who brought beer back to the limelight, which remained the case under the Moorish occupation. In 1570, King Afonso Henriques instilled a culture of consumption of beer and promoted its production which eventually made some enemies, notably the wine industry. Apparently the townhall of Lisbon filed a formal complaint to the King in 1689 for unfair competition due to beer’s cheap price compared to wine.
To this day, Portugal boasts an extraordinarily low price for its ‘imperial’ (the name Portuguese give draft beer – which should now make sense) that packs a punch in alcoholic percentage and is better in taste than many big, branded beers. Craft beers aside of course. And Bavaria and Belgium aside (we know our place better than most). So, if you’re looking for a decent ‘imperial’ on a night out in Lisbon, look for the swathes of Portuguese crowded outside a tiny unassuming local bar anywhere in Lisbon. Generally, that’s the best indicator for a decent and outrageously under-priced draft beer.
The Hub Criativo do Beato is celebrating the Lisbon Beer Department Collective’s five craft beer brands this weekend to show how far we’ve come in way of craft beers, not to mention it being the perfect excuse for a party. Besides throwing a good party to help show off Portuguese talents and culture, HCB is partly responsible for the rise to fame of Marvila, Lisbon’s most recent district to get a facelift thanks to the sheer quantity of tech entrepreneurs that have populated its innovation hubs. Marvila, in particular, is fast-becoming renowned in the tech world as well in the real estate industry. Predictions for future booming cities or districts pit tech hubs and a culture of innovation as the main indicators. Any city or district that attracts the tech crowd, will see real estate skyrocket and with Marvila seems to be the next big tech hub in Lisbon.
The Hub Criativo do Beato’s “Oktober Festa” promises plenty of beer and music, a young and clever crowd, beer connoisseurs and no doubt many who like to drink and be merry. Saúde!