When visiting another country or city it seems only right to sample the local brew. So that is what I did on a recent visit to Madeira. But what beer do they serve in Madeira?
Madeira is an Island off the Northwest coast of Africa. However it was claimed by the Portuguese in 1419. The capital of Madeira is Funchal, a vibrant busy city with an impressive waterfront and harbour. Anyway what about the beer?
What Beer Do They Serve In Madeira?
The main beer served in Madeira is Coral Cerveja (beer), which is a typical med style crisp lager. Every bar or restaurant seems to serve Coral on tap. However, if you do a little digging, it is possible to find a few other offerings to please the beer palate. There is even some Portuguese craft beer available.
So Coral is the go to beer in Madeira, and recommended by the locals.
What Is Coral Beer Like?
Coral beer comes from the main brewery in Madeira which is simply the Madeira Beer Company or Empresa De Cervejas Da Madeira in the native tongue.
It dates back to 1872 known then as HP Miles & CIA which produced beer and soft drinks. In 1934 the company merged with Araujo another drinks company and became Madeira Beer Company.
Coral first hit the market in 1969 and is today the main beer in Madeira. There is also a non alcoholic version as well as a Coral Stout.
But today we stick with the lager. So what is Coral beer like?
Drinking Coral Lager Madeira
Coral lager is a typical med style beer. Light, fresh and crisp, the perfect beer for a hot day, which there are plenty of in Madeira.
It is a light golden beer with a one finger fluffy white head, which does stick around for the duration.
The nose is light and mainly gives aromas of biscuit cereal malt and a very slight floral tone to top.
The carbonation shows in the glass and you get the same in the mouth. A full fizzy experience which seems to have a soft edge to it. A cereal malt base gives way to a slight spice and almost sherbet dryness. There is little in the way of bitterness, maybe just a hint on the back end.
All the Coral I tried was on tap, it is the only beer they had at my hotel, so I had a few. It’s okay, fresh, crisp and clean and does the job.
However you can soon tire of it, well I did by the end of my stay in Madeira. It feels lighter than its 5.1% Vol, but I guess that is the med style beer.
For me it gets a rate my beer score of 3.9 – 5.0.
Where Can I Find Other Beer In Madeira?
Like I said Coral is okay, however I needed to find a little respite from it. So I did a little research and found something promising.
Apparently a craft beer bar lurks in a side street in the capital, Funchal, sounds perfect. The following day Lou and I took a shuttle bus to Funchal and got dropped right by the cable cart. Across the road was a taxi rank, the perfect people to ask for directions.
A few minutes later and a strong recommendation that Coral is the best beer to drink. We headed in the direction they sent us, which wasn’t as straightforward as it seemed.
It took us a while, but we found it in the end. A craft beer oasis called Fuga Cidade, which I think translates to City Escape.
So if you look around you will find other beer, not just other imported beer, but Portuguese beer.
Fuga Cidade Craft Beer
A long walk along the harbour sea front, which is impressive led us to Fuga Cidade. A grey building with a white awning and a large sign saying Craft Beer.
As we walk in, on the left is a large blackboard with all the craft beers on tap, which consisted of eight. As it was early, Lou and I were the first customers of the day.
A quick chat with the very friendly owners and we were sat on the sofa at the end of the bar with a flight of beers on the way.
We ended up sampling six beers from the eight taps, and here are the results.
Red Zeppelin Red Session IPA
Red Zeppelin Red Session IPA comes from the well known Musa Brewery in Lisbon, Portugal. A brewery riding on the craft beer scene in Portugal.
They produce a decent range of craft beers from, lagers and pale ales to a saison and a stout.
The Red Zeppelin pours a reddish brown with a tight knit creamy head.
On the nose it screams of malty caramel with a slight fruity citrus hint of pine on top.
The taste kicks in with a rich caramel malt which gives a sweetness at the front end. Fruity citrus notes pop in and say hi, then a decent burst of bitterness finishes the experience.
A good medium to full body with a good sweet and bitter balance. The citrus although not strong does give it that IPA feel, otherwise its just a decent red ale.
It gets a rate my beer score of 4.3 – 5.0 for me, with Lou coming in with a slightly less 4.2 – 5.0.
Born In The IPA
Another IPA from the Musa Brewery in Lisbon. This one is a bit more potent at 6.5% Vol, so I expected it to have a decent body and a nice bitter end.
On the pour it comes out with a opaque appearance of fairly light gold, lighter than I was expecting, a generous white head sits on top. This does fade to a thin cover, but leaves a nice lacing around the glass.
The nose pops citrus hops with aromas of lemon and grapefruit, in the distance there is a little floral overlay.
The taste reflects the nose with a hit of fruity citrus combining lemon, grapefruit and maybe a little mango. The mango comes in nicely and softens the edge of the lemon and grapefruit.
A finale is laced with a citrus bitterness which lingers on the palate. Overall a decent IPA that delivers a hoppy citrus with a bitter end. however the body feels a little thin which kind of spoils the Born In The IPA experience.
A rate my beer score of a straight 4.0 -5.0 for me, with Lou going a little higher at 4.1 – 5.0.
Conde Blond Cannavial’e
Another one from the Musa Brewery, however on the blackboard it stated the brewery as ‘Fuga Cidade + Musa’, so I assumed that it was a collaboration.
But when I asked, one of the owners said it was made by Musa for Fuga Cidade. That is what I understood anyway, but her English although way better than my Portuguese was still not clear enough for me to understand completely.
Anyway Conde Blond is as the name suggests a Blonde beer. It sparkles a light straw colour in the glass with a one finger head. This fades quickly to barely nothing, but a good amount of lacing forms on the glass.
The nose is lager like with a lemon sherbet aroma bursting from the glass.
The taste is on the nose, fresh with a lemon and lime twist. It has that sherbet powdery feel that the nose suggests. However the body is surprisingly full with a mild sweetness and a lovely smooth mouthfeel.
I am surprised at my score for this 4.5% Vol session beer, it gets 4.4 – 5.0, but hey, I like it. Lou isn’t too far behind either, with a slightly less 4.3 – 5.0.
Capotinho Irish Stout
This Irish Stout comes from the Barona Brewing Company based in Marvão, Portugal. Founded in 2015 by three partners, who used the first two letters of their surnames to arrive at the name of the brewery.
They are a true craft brewery producing some great beers. From lagers, blondes, pales, porters as well as IPA’s DIPA’s NEIPA’s. Apart from the main range, they produce limited edition beers throughout the year.
This stout pours jet black with a rich creamy tan head. This does fade to a thin cover, but coats the glass well as it goes down.
The nose is rich malt notes with strong aromas of roast coffee laced with chocolate. It’s a warming whiff of comfort.
The first sip reveals the toasty malt body that is immediately over powered by the rich roasted coffee. A warm chocolate sits on top of the coffee flavours. It has a smooth creamy mouthfeel, and the want for another sip is immediate.
At 4.6% Vol its a safe and easy drinking stout that goes down well. I give it a rate my beer score of 4.3 – 5.0. Lou isn’t quite as keen with a straight 4.0 – 5.0.
Common People Lager
Common People Lager is form OPO 74 another Portuguese brewery. Inspired by traditional brewing, their aim is to produce high quality alternative beers.
Their range includes Red Mosquito, an American Amber Ale, as well Gyroscope, an India Pale Ale.
However Common People is a lager, fresh face and light. It pours a light straw gold with a very generous head that sticks around.
The nose has a slight malt base with a sweet pear like aroma, it almost smells a little clinical.
The taste is the lightest of malt with the sweetest of pear drop, it tastes a little like the boiled sweet. The body is very light and there is no bitter edge at all. I expected more from this 5.5% Vol lager.
It’s fresh and its crisp, quite refreshing, but just a little too sweet. The rate my beer score for me is 3.7 – 5.0, where as Lou took to it a little more with 4.0 . 5.0.
Jo Da Silva APA
This American Pale Ale comes from the Lisbon, Portugal based brewery Oitava Colina, which I think means eighth hill.
Born in 2015, the brewery brews beers that they want to drink, with a big focus on quality. They love their craft with lagers, blondes, IPA’s, as well as imperial stouts, sours and kolsch.
Joe Da Silva is an American Pale Ale with a 5.5% Vol strength. It pours a light gold with a generous tight white head.
The nose is fruity, citrus, tropical and hoppy with notes of mango and pineapple, it smells good.
The taste reflects the nose with a strong hoppy front over a light malt base. Tropical notes of the mango and pineapple come through with a slight sweetness. It feels smooth in the mouth and ends with a satisfying bitterness.
A little more body would have made it a big contender for a top mark, however it still scores a respectable 4.5 – 5.0. Lou likes it too and came in at 4.4 – 5.0.
Portugal then has some interesting craft breweries producing some great craft beers. Although Coral lager is an okay beer, it is nice to find some different style beers, just to break things up a little.
The trip to Madeira was great, it is a beautiful Island with friendly people. On top of that, they have some great beer too.
Finding Fuga Cidade craft beer bar in Funchal is a nice touch, and I strongly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in Madeira. You will get a friendly welcome. likewise the chance to enjoy some wonderful craft beer.
Perhaps you have already been to Madeira as well as Fuga Cidade, if so then do share your thoughts and your experience.