Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Critics' Take on Devassa Beer

The recent entry of Devassa beers into the national marketplace in Brazil means that many more Brazilians will be exposed to them and develop their own opinions about the quality of the beer. The very clever ad campaigns of Devassa's owners, Schincariol Breweries, has raised the profile of the beer but clever advertising can only go so far - if the beer isn't good people won't continue to buy it.

Like everywhere else in the world, Brazil is full of both profession and amateur beer critics. The professionals write for food and wine magazines and publish in newspapers, the amateurs post their opinions in blogs and on Internet forums and social network groups. What do these critics have to say about Devassa.

One of the most well-respected beer critics in Brazil is Roberto Fonseca, who writes for the Estado de S. Paulo newspaper and who publishes a blog called "Blog do Bob" on the Estado's website. He was an early fan of the original microbrewed line of beers from Devassa, but is less keen on their national brand Bem Loura. He notes that Bem Loura falls into the category that he calls "tropical lager" - those lagers that are made especially light for warm-weather markets and which supposedly go down better in the heat of the topics. The best known example of this style is Mexico's Corona. He goes on to say that although Devassa Bem Loura doesn't have the disagreeable odor and taste of other industrially-brewed Brazilian lagers, it is so lightly malted and hopped that it loses any hope of distinctive character and blends in seamlessly the other popular Brazilian brands - it's fatal fault is that it doesn't stand out. He rates it at 2.5 out of 4.

It seems that bloggers agree with Sr. Fonseca for the most part. The original brands from the days of the microbrewery rate higher than does Bem Loura. This blogger from Brasilia notes the high quality of the ingredients used - only European hops, for example. He likes the body of the pale ale and the body of the dark ale, noting that the latter doesn't come at the cost of feeling heavy. Another blogger especially appreciates Devassa draft beer and compares it favorably to Brahma Chopp, the market leader in this segment.

It remains to be seen whether Devassa Bem Loura will have long term success in the Brazilian beer market - one of the largest in the world and dominated by brands of the world largest beer consortium AmBev. A $60 million ad campaign (the rumored cost of the campaign to launch Bem Loura) will make a lot of people eager to sample a new "hot" product. But only quality will bring them back for more.

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