Chope (pronounced show-pee) is delicious.
Chope is cold and refreshing on a hot Rio night.
Chope is… a bomba.
It doesn’t take long for a visitor in Rio to start seeing chope aka chopp all over town.
What is it?
Among brewmeisters, chope is known as “fresh beer.”
It was introduced in Brasil in 1808 with the arrival of the Portuguese Royal Family. And in Rio, chope became cherished by the Cariocas, who initially consumed wines and spirits.
Rio serves more chope than anywhere else in Brasil. And Cariocas (Rio natives) take their chope seriously. And very cold (bem gelado).
One of the biggest differences between beer and chope is that beer is pasteurized. Chope’s not. Beer can be stored warm, chope can’t. Beer’s shelf life is about 4 months. Chope must be consumed within 10 days – 15 days for dark chope (oscuro).
There’s an exact carbonic gas pressure for chope, a small temperature range (really cold) and other rituals down to the glass cleaning and more.
Through the years, chope has evolved into something of a religion. And there are exacting rules to be obeyed.
Indeed, in the wonderful book, “Rio Botequim: 50 Bars and Botequins with the Carioca Soul,” they actually lay out The 10 Commandments of Chope.
1) Taste: The quality of the ingredients, the process monitoring and non-pasteurization guarantee its refreshing, creamy taste.
2) Delivery: The keg should not be agitated so it won’t depressurize and lose its gas. Also needs to stay refrigerated so the drink won’t become acidic.
3) Storage: The most recent kegs should be stored behind the oldest ones.
4) Valid Date: Must be consumed in less than 10 days – up to 15 days for dark chope.
5) Equipment: Requires constant care. The carbon gas cylinders, the gauges, the extractors, the coil and the prerefrigerator should be periodically checked and cleaned.
6) Glass: Essential that the glasses are well-cleaned with neutral soap. Grease on the rim or inside the glass alter the taste of the chope.
7) Temperature: Necessary to control the temperature so the chope won’t freeze or warm up. Ideal temperature at the tap is between 0 and 2 C.
8) Pressure: The carbon gas pressure must be around 1.8 – 2.3 kg/cm (2).
9) Serving: At the glass, the chope must have a head of at least 3-fingers height. The foam prevents warming up the drink and oxidation, preserving the taste for a longer period.
10) Experience: It is important to know by experience the appropriate time to enjoy a well served chope, in a botequim and in good company.
Adherence to these strict parameters is so important; the fortunes of botequins in Rio rise and fall with the perceived quality of their chope.
The classic chope glass is the caldeireta. It’s considered the most appropriate (large mouth, mid-size) to prevent the three-finger head from dissolving.
My first time in Rio I just thought it was really cold beer.
So, while in Rio, do what the Cariocas do: stroll over to your favorite sidewalk botequim, sip a cherished chope with a friend and watch all of the pretty girls walk by – if you can find a seat.
Mais chope, por favor.
Visit John’s blog to find out more about Brazil: http://www.riotudobom.com