#EatRioLoves: Beer

Not everything in Rio is 100% intuitive; it can take time to appreciate or understand some of the finer aspects of Carioca life. For this reason, I created the #EatRioLoves series. Whether you are here for a short visit, or you’re planning to stay for longer, I hope this series will help you connect with some of the things I’ve grown to love during my 11+ years in the Cidade Maravilhosa. Today I have few things to say about the beautiful barley beverage: beer.


Beer here is served cold. You knew that already, right? Wrong! It has to be ice cold. It is not uncommon to hear someone ask the waiter which beer is coldest before deciding which to order. Temperature trumps brand preference. Similarly, helpful waiters will often inform you that the brand you’ve just asked for is not sufficiently chilled – you’ll be expected to choose an alternative.

When beer is really cold, there’s a danger that it will turn to slush as it fills your glass – there are various ways people try to avoid this, including caressing the base of the bottle in a sensual, circular motion and avoiding any sudden movements (even a little bump can be enough to set off the freezing process).

Estupidamente gelada!


Acceptable beer temperatures include: bem gelada (well chilled), estupidamente gelada (stupidly cold), geladíssima (really really cold) and cu de foca (as cold as a seal’s arsehole). Anything failing to conform to these exacting standards is considered quente (hot) and will be tossed into the street in disgust.


The Copo Americano

Eat Rio Food Tour veterans will recognise these! Beer is typically imbibed from a tiny glass called a Copo Americano (filled to the serving line, this provides just 150ml). The diminutive dimensions mean that your beer will never be around long enough to become quente. It can feel weird at first, especially if you’re accustomed to drinking your beer from pint glasses, but try to embrace this iconic drinking vessel – after a while it will feel like the most natural thing in the world.


The Copo Americano is produced by the Nadir Figueiredo company and is the most popular piece of glassware in Brazil. Over 6 billion of these little cups have been produced since 1947.


Big Bottles and Beer Condoms

The standard beer bottle holds 600ml and I can’t emphasise this enough, this should be shared between everyone at the table who’s drinking beer – one of the most gringo scenes you will ever see is a group of 5 sunburnt guys sat around a beach kiosk table in Ipanema, each with their own 600ml bottle in front of them, each swigging directly from the bottle. Sharing one big bottle by filling everyone’s little glass is (again) all about reducing the likelihood that the beer will get warm.

In a further measure to prevent the dreaded cerveja quente, the big bottle is often placed inside an insulated bottle holder called a camisinha (‘little shirt’ – also the word for a condom). Removing the empty bottle from the beer condom is a handy non-verbal way of indicating to the waiter that you’re ready for another.

Communal Beer Drinking

All of the previously mentioned factors lead to a delightful practice that I urge everyone to embrace when in Rio: communal beer drinking. Sure there are individual sized bottles of beer (longy necky), foam-topped draught beers (shoppy) and even draught craft beers (shoppy sheeky), but the quintessential Brazilian beer drinking experience involves sitting around a table with friends, sharing bottle after bottle of icy cold beer, poured out into everyone’s little copos. As the last drops of each bottle are poured out, you’ll exchange a quick glance of confirmation with your fellow drinkers before accepting the next bottle proffered by the waiter – Myzooma? Claro!

2 replies
  1. richard
    richard says:

    Hi Tom,

    Perfect timing – just landed for a weekend in Rio and wanted to ask about the “puro malte” deal? Just ordered my first Bohemia and it is a puro malte? What is that about? Is nothing sacred? Seen same for Brahma, Amstel and even some local beers in Rio Grande do Sul and São Paulo

    • tomlemes
      tomlemes says:

      Hey Richard! Welcome back! 🍻 I think “Puro Malte” signifies that they haven’t replaced some of the malted barley with corn (maize). If it doesn’t say puro malte then they are allowed to include up to 45% corn/rice (I think many of the big industrially produced beers here used a lot of maize). So puro malte is usually considered a good thing.


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