Picture the scene: you’ve spent the whole week at Web Summit in Lisbon, dutifully listening to talks and panels taking lots of notes, networking with dozens of different tech startups, and going to bed early. Now, after a long week, you can finally crack open a beer to celebrate…but wait. This is Portugal. Where will you get your stout fix?
You’ve done a bit of googling about the two top dark beers in Portugal and have been lucky enough to stumble across this guide. Welcome, all, to a side by side comparison of Super Bock’s Stout and Sagres’ Preta.
Super Bock, Stout
You apply different standards when travelling in another country. At home, I’m incredibly abstemious and won’t touch a drop of alcohol until the afternoon. Here in Lisbon, I’ll merrily order a beer with my breakfast.
Held to the light, the SBS is a dark ruby brown with a generous tan head. It gives off aromas of cheap drinking chocolate, followed up by more Cadbury Options on the tongue. There’s bitterness here too, however, and perhaps a hint of dark fruity tartness. Bitter notes longer briefly on the finish.
It’s not bad. But the SBS is too delicate and fresh to call itself a stout. This is a dark lager, one with the chocolatey, red fruit notes you might expect to find in a stout, but a lager all the same.
Breakfast beer is rarely a good idea, but in this case I feel like I’ve selected the wrong beer. It’s a bit too serious for morning drinking: this feels like a beer to drink just one of, preferably a swift half pint on the way home from work at the end of a hard day.
Now drinking at a slightly more acceptable time of day, we have Super Bock’s main competitor Sagres’ take on a dark beer.
At first glance the Preta looks very similar to the SBS. It’s black and clear, though little in the way of head on this occasion.
The aroma is roasted and smoky, charcoal with a hint of cola sweetness. The flavour is fruitier: cherry cola and blackcurrant give way to charcoal ashiness. Once left alone to warm up for a few minutes dark chocolate notes emerge too, rounding off into a dark, roasted malt finish. 3
Neither of these beers is a stout. But if you’re looking to satisfy a stout craving, the Sagres ticks more of the boxes – the flavours are richer, more complex than you’ll find in the Super Bock.
Of course, you could just give the two highest profile brewers a miss and seek out some proper craft beer instead. Which is precisely what we did afterwards…