Introducing our new beer & music (and all the bits in between) podcast. The first episode of Rock The Mash Tun will drop soon. In the meantime, here's a taster...
Over the past couple of years, Lisbon has come up from behind to steal the trophy from Barcelona and San Sebastian as foodie destination du jour (or, more appropriately, do dia). We thought we had better find out what all the fuss was about and can confirm the rumours are true - Lisbon is a fantastic city in which to live the good life*. Here's how to make the most of it, HB&B style. (See here for the first part of this series, our guide to Porto.)
One of the best tips we received was to avoid Trip Advisor reviews, which are skewed by idiot tourists, and instead look towards Zomato if you want a sense of what the locals think. This - along with our fail-safe tip of finding the first good bar and sitting down with the bartender to pick their brains - ensured we were able to jam an insane amount of good times into just a few short days. (For the TL;DR version, head to our Google Map, where we've listed all the places we went - the green pins - as well as all the ones that were recommended to us but didn't find time to visit.)
We based ourselves in the treacherously steep lanes of the Bica district that are the heart of Lisbon's nightlife, from where we could walk pretty much anywhere. We were on a three-way mission - find beer, find tinned fish, find views and sunshine. Oh, and pasteis de nata (Portuguese custard tarts). Make that four-way.
We've always been fans of tinned fish but this trip helped to turn this love into yet another obsession. We took a tip from Richard Ayoade and headed to Sol e Pesca for our first Lisbon lunch. Sol e Pesca is probably the best known of the various tinned fish spots in town (and thus brings the tourists with it). There's a huge range of seafood to choose from, the gloriously colourful tins displayed in museum-style glass cases. You can eat in, accompanied by bread and that ubiquitous Super Bock (be prepared to wait for service), or take home.
The tinned fish mecca, however, is Conserveira de Lisboa. Around for nearly 90 years and passed down through three generations, this wonderfully old school shop is an inspiration to shopkeepers like us. It stocks more than 130 varieties of tinned fish (though only around half of these are in stock at any one time due to seasonality), and importantly, they have a strong emphasis on sustainability. They work closely with biologists and their suppliers to ensure they only sell fish from sustainable stocks.
You'll also find tinned fish stands at the Time Out Market and the infinitely more interesting (and cheaper) Mercato Campo de Ourique a bit further out of town. And if somehow you miss out during your stay, you can even stock up at the airport on the way home.
Right. Beer. Our first port of call was Duque Brewpub. (On the way we had a beer at Lisbon's oldest bar, Cervejaria Trindade, but you could afford to give this place a miss - both beer and ambience were decidedly average.)
Duque feels a lot like a London taproom - small and intimate, frequented by locals and beer tourists alike. It's got a warm, friendly vibe, especially on a summer evening with all tables full inside and out. There's a 10-tap draught selection featuring local brews and a small fridge of bottled beers. However, the beer selection felt a little familiar after what we'd encountered in Porto - once again the Passarola beers stood out - so we enjoyed a couple of halves and moved on.
Showroom Trindade is a new venture, a cocktail and beer bar that's tucked away in the basement of a theatre on Rua Nova de Trindade. It's run by the charming Alexander, an ex-pat Brazilian who really knows and loves beer - as evidenced by his selection, without a doubt the best in town. When we were there, Alexander had arranged a Brewdog tap takeover and had three large fridges stocked full of fresh Mikkeller and other top shelf treats. He takes beer seriously and has invested in cold storage, something that's yet to become common in Portugal. The vibe might be more nightclub than many beer lovers are used to, but we hope he does well - he deserves it.
(One of Alexander's many great tips was to head back down towards Duque Brewpub to Oficina do Duque for dinner, where we enjoyed one of the best meals of recent times. We'll forgive the translation error, which saw me order tuna under the guise of "Atlantic mackerel", because goddamn, that tuna was incredible. Go!)
Elsewhere for beer, Cerveteca LIsboa is a craft beer bar/shop that offers a great Portuguese tap list and decent bottle selection, including some nice Belgians as well as a few UK stars such as Magic Rock and The Kernel. It's a little further away from the action but well worth the walk.
And if you're visiting Castelo de São Jorge, you'll want to stop into Lisbeer on the way up or down - again, a decent tap and bottle selection. Yet again, Passarola was the winner - try their Chindogu IPA.
Sadly we arrived a couple of hours too early to experience Quimera Brewpub (via a long, rambling and highly enjoyable walk from the 'Cemetery of Pleasures' to LX Market) and ran out of time to make it to Dois Corvos Cervejeira.
For views and sunshine, seek out Rio Maravilha in the hipster enclave LX Market. We ate in the restaurant (which was fantastic), but you can also get drinks and small plates on the terrace and rooftop, which offers stunning views of the 25 de Abril Bridge and across the river.
It's also worth heading to The Park - a bar, like Frank's in Peckham, that has colonised the rooftop of a central city carpark - but only stay for one drink. The views are great, but the beer is Bock (and prices are elevated accordingly). The restaurant Ponte Final on the other side of the river also came highly recommended for seafood and views back cross the Tagus towards the city - alas we ran out of time to make it here.
As for pasteis de nata... Eat them! Eat them every day! All the time! As often as you can! Pasteis de Belem gets all the attention but it's a fair way out of town and there are places more convenient for hungover breakfast hunters. At Manteigaria, in the Barrio Alto, you can watch the bakers doing their thing while you eat the still-warm results and enjoy a much-needed coffee. They also have an outlet at the Time Out Market.
Finally, the best thing about Portugal for boozehounds like us is the proliferation of top-class neighbourhood drinking establishments. There's no shortage of places to slake your thirst and every night is cause for celebration in Lisbon.
We loved Garrafeira Alfaia, a fantastically friendly, knowledgeable wine bar that's just a hop and a skip from Duque Brewpub. It's also well worth devoting at least one evening to a late-night stagger from bar to bar in the Bica district, drinking on the street with newly made friends until the early hours. Our home away from home became Bar Ironic, tucked away at the bottom of Rua das Flores (one of Lisbon's quintessentially steep, scenic streets), drinking port, or cocktails, or one of the host's special homemade liqueurs.
So much good stuff... we could easily fill another 3,000 words but you're better off going than reading.
* A little note: While Lisbon is by and large a wonderfully warm and welcoming city, be prepared to potentially be seen by some as hostile invaders. There's a growing backlash to the tourism boom from locals, who - somewhat understandably - look at the issues faced by the likes of Venice and Barcelona and fear for their future. They see the growing tourist market as contributing to housing issues (thanks to Airbnb sucking up a lot of inner-city apartment stock) and the ever-increasing numbers of visitors impacting on the quality of local life. At the end of the day, it's probably not rocket science - don't make like the package holiday hordes, the Instagram idiots or those ignorant types that shit on the lawns of the Louvre, but be respectful and take the time to get involved in the local culture rather than stampeding through the town with your selfie stick. Hopefully Lisbon can take steps to avoid the worst issues faced by its holiday hotspot counterparts before it creates a monster.
Beer in cans is great. So great, in fact, that we're opening a new shop in the heart of Peckham next month dedicated solely to the joy of the can.
The HB&B Can Station at Serious Pig is a Saturday-only beer emporium in association with our pals, the craft meat specialists at Serious Pig
Why? Our favourite breweries are now canning their beers, so we thought, why not devote an entire shop to cans? They’re easier to transport, they protect beer from one of its major enemies (light) and goddamnit, these days cans look bloody awesome. Plus you can fit a whole lot more of them in a fridge...
The HB&B Can Station is located at Serious Pig’s lovely railway arch under the tracks by Peckham Rye Station. The focus is firmly on takeaway, with a humongous variety of canned beer, but you'll also be able to stay for a drink on site along with a choice of food from Serious Pig’s award winning range.
Each week we’ll pick the very best and freshest cans from our 350+ strong craft beer selection and haul them over to the Can Station. Expect to find breweries such as Beavertown, Cloudwater, Magic Rock, Northern Monk, Verdant, Mikkeller, Evil Twin, Lervig, To Ol, Yeastie Boys and many more. If it’s good and in a can, it’s there.
The HB&B Can Station at Serious Pig launches Saturday 10 June and will be open from 12-6pm each Saturday over the summer at Arch 221, 42 Blenheim Grove, Peckham Rye, London SE15 4QL. See you there.
We are ridiculously excited about this year's HB&B Big Beery Advent Calendar.
We've collected together 25 of our favourite beers of 2016 from our favourite breweries. Details of the beers are under wraps until they're revealed, day by day, throughout December, but you can expect a wide and varied selection, from juicy pale ales, funky saisons, delicious darks and everything in between. As with last year's calendar, our guiding principle has been "Is this beer going to make people very, very happy when they unwrap it?" If the answer is yes, in it goes.
This year's calendar (available in store or online) costs £79 which includes 25 mind-blowing beers AND a £10 voucher for the online shop, and comes with our promise that you won't find a better advent calendar out there. Satisfaction guaranteed.
Every night from 1 December, we'll be revealing each day's beer here on our blog - why we've chosen it, why we love it. You can drink along and give us your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #hbbadvent.
These are selling out faster than we could have imagined, so don't delay if you want to have a very beery December.