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Posted by portugalpress on July 31, 2018

A British family has opened the Iberian Peninsula’s largest craft beer brewery in Faro, with a capacity to produce 90,000 litres of beer per month. Their goal is to establish ‘Algarve Rock’, their brand of beer, as an “ambassador” for Algarve beers in Portugal and abroad.

The Algarve Rock Brewery is located in the Vale da Venda industrial park outside Faro and is currently producing five varieties of beer: Pilsner, Pale Ale, Red Ale, Stout and Indian Pale Ale.

The plan is to boast a “combination of British styles but with a Portuguese touch” – in other words, to have a selection of beers that are light and not too alcoholic.

Our sister publication Barlavento met with owner Gary Hosner and his co-founder and son-in-law Neil Conchie to find out why they chose the Algarve as the setting for their venture.

As Hosmer told the newspaper, he would notice while on holiday in the Algarve that two major beer companies dominated the market and that alternatives were lacking.

“In the UK there are around 1,800 craft beers, and most of their producers are very successful. I lived some time in France, a wine-producing country like Portugal and Spain, but that today has over 1,000 beer producers. I saw this culture growing slowly in Italy too. Only Portugal was being left behind,” the 60-year-old told Barlavento.

“Lisbon, Porto and other parts of the country are starting to offer some very good beers, but it’s still on a small scale,” the Londoner added.

With so much potential left untapped in Portugal, Hosmer decided it was the perfect place to ‘set up shop’.

While the project started being developed in 2016, the brewery only opened in February.

“I studied the British market and many producers said their biggest mistake was that they did not start off with a larger operation. That is why we opened such a large brewery,” he explained.

However, it came at a cost. Said Hosner: “Starting off with such a large brewery means we have more costs, so we have to sell a lot just to balance our finances and make a profit”.

“We know it is hard to make a living in this market. We are a Portuguese company, my whole family moved here, we invested in Portugal and the Algarve and our goal is to make beers that the region and country can be proud of,” he added.

If all goes according to plan, the brewery will soon feature a store where guests can purchase beers and even take part in gastronomic experiences in which beers are paired with food.

According to Algarve Rock’s head brewer Angel Borges, the brewery has opened “at the right time”.

“It is not for the masses, but for people who are a bit tired of industrial beers and are looking for something different, with more quality,” he said, adding that there is a “craft beer revolution” currently taking place all over the world.

The brand’s beers should be available soon at several bars, restaurants and supermarkets around the Algarve as the company has recently signed its first contract with a major distributor.

Hosmer is hoping that within the next three to five years, Algarve Rock will account for a 3% quota of the national beer market, which is currently a billion-euro industry.

He acknowledged, however, that it will be no easy task: “It would be tough here because there is a sort of duopoly in Portugal”.

There are also plans to sell the beer abroad, especially in winter when demand will decline significantly in the Algarve.

Hosmer believes that the British market would be especially receptive to ‘Algarve Rock’ given the close relationship between the two countries and the Algarve.

“For example, the piri-piri Pilsner we are preparing would certainly be appreciated,” he said.

Photos: Bruno Filipe Pires