This isn`t meant to be my attempt at Lonely Planet, there are plenty of sites aimed at tourists coming to Sao Paulo but having been to France in 98, Korea in 2002 and Germany in 2006, I thought it might be worth sharing a new things that I might want to know if I was new to Sao Paulo.
First of all, If you get a beer with more head than beer, don’t panic it’s quite normal. Draft beer in Brazil is called chopp (pronounced shoppee) and there’s a very good chance it’ll arrive with a massive head. The Brazilians claim it keeps the bubbles in the beer but if you’re like me and are not too keen on bubbly beer then you can ask for it `Sem colarinho` (pronounced seng kollarinyo) in which case it might arrive with less or more head – they probably won’t listen to you.
If you go to a bar that serves English style beers, such as Cervejaria Nacional or O`Malley`s you’ll get the same disappointingly large head in a pint glass but before you complain bear in mind that you are being charged for the amount of beer they give you (probably half a litre) and not actually for a whole pint.
When you enter the bar you’ll be given a card ( known as a comanda). You need to give the number of this card every time you buy a drink and no cash changes hands until the end of the evening when you hand your card in and pay on the way out. So, and this is very important, do not lose your card or you will be charged a lot of money to get out.
Forget about queuing at a bar six deep. Most bars in Brazil prefer you to sit at a table while waiters take your order and bring you your beer, which is much more convenient but you can very quickly notch up a fairly hefty bar tab. Also, if you are offered a `saidera` (one for the road) you will be expected to pay for it – it is not `one on the house`.
If you like micro breweries then Cervejaria Nacional is a good place to try.
They have a standard range of 5 beers: wheat beer, pilsner, red ale, IPA and stout which you can buy individually in pint or half pint glasses or as a taster selection of five third pint glasses. Each of these standard beers are named after a Brazilian legend which one day I might write a post about. They also have seasonal ales which include ales brewed in partnership with other micro-breweries.
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll tell you where to get a good curry.