Art lives on the streets of Lisbon—the faces of its characters loom large on the sometimes-crumbling walls and alleys of the city, climbing its seven hills and creating a sense that you’re surrounded all the time by these characters.
So it’s fitting that a creative micro brewery born in the Graça neighborhood, on its eighth hill, would embrace the art all around, and capture the spirit of these characters on its labels and in the flavors inherent in its beer.
Oitava Colina (Portuguese for “Eighth Hill”) opened its taproom in 2018 after several years producing quality beers for the national market. Since Graça remains one of our favorite parts of Lisbon—and the Zé Arnaldo porter one of my favorite Portuguese craft beers—we made the trip in early December with a visiting friend to try out the menu and see what was pouring.
Oitava Colina’s branding engages you for the way it reflects the character of Lisboa–and it does this most effectively through the artist’s work captured on the label. Gonçalo MAR is well known and recognized around the scene for his work that expresses the energies and emotions of the Lisboeta. So he’s a great match to illuminate those characters on the bottles of Oitava Colina. They’re works of art on their own–and make a great souvenir of your time in Lisbon.
So, to visit the taproom: First, park a little ways away, and walk past the small park that makes its own semi-private miradouro (“golden view”) out over the more famous hills of Lisbon. From the taproom itself, you have a good view of the Castelo São Jorge, and on any given day, a quieter, more contemplative way to consider the castle than through the waves of tourists sieging its walls.
Next, come with a little appetite, for the choices on the small menu are tasty and various. With our brews, we had a pulled pork sandwich, and the Portuguese version of a banh mi. Both came with house-made potato chips and flavorful sauces to compliment the beers.
My partners in crime both love IPA, so they each enjoyed an Urraca Vendaval from the taps, one of the standard Oitava Colina beers that you can find in the bottle around the country. This beer was my introduction to Oitava Colina as well, a balanced blend of hoppy and citrus aromas, and a streak of pineapple on the palate. At 6% abv, it’s a moderate expression of IPA and a great way to get to know the brewery.
I chose a flight of the five beers I either had not had, or had not had in review, including a couple of guests. I’ve had the Florinda Lager by the bottle before, as well, and its clear, clean tastes, and caramel notes should make lager lovers happy. It comes in at 5,2% abv, so it’s not too light for a lager.
For my flight, I began with the Entruda Sour, a guest beer from Barona up in the heights of the Alentejo—I’d enjoyed their IPA while on a sunset-watching trip to Marvão, a hill town near the border with Spain. With mango aromas, and grapefruit on the palate, this hazy, light, mildly effervescent sour made me happy. At 3,8% abv, you could enjoy a few glasses in an afternoon.
Next, I tried one from Oitava Colina’s “Vila” series, beers it has brewed to celebrate the villages around the region. Vila Maria is a blonde ale, with baking bread aromas, and mild bitter tastes on the palate. It’s mostly clear, with a light-to-medium body, and a creamy finish. At 5% abv, it’s a refreshing choice.
Another “vila” beer, the Vila Martins ginger beer, really tripped my senses. I love ginger, and that’s good, because the freshly grated ginger aromas sing out from this beer. It has a clear, golden color and a lighter body, with moderate bitters—and it’s completely dry, not sweet at all. It’s a nice foil for the “banh mi” selection from the food menu. 4,5% abv.
A tie for my favorite of the tasting, the Intriga wheat wine smelled to me of Arinto grapes, the white wine found all around Portugal. With licorice aromas, and an earthiness on the palate, a bit of lemon rind (often an Arinto feature) completes the picture. It too has a creamy mouthfeel—and at 11% abv it drinks more like a wine than a beer, from an alcohol standpoint.
Finally, the other beer in the tie for best of the afternoon, the Lazarus Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter. This beer has layers of flavor, from a scent of banana muffins, to coffee on the palate. Its creamy, rich, medium-weight body shows more of the alcohol (9% abv) than its breathren on the menu. We found that the pulled pork sandwich went well here (or with the Zé Arnaldo porter).
Finally, I finished with a taste of the Zé Arnaldo, just to place it next to the rest of the lineup in my mind. This robust porter clocks in at 6% abv, and has the blend of dark chocolate and espresso that makes a signature porter one of my favorite styles. Fresh from the tap, it was better than ever.
Tasting flights run €7, while tasting pours cost from €2,50 to €5,20. Bottles to go can be had for €3 to €4,75. Sandwiches start at €6,50. Call for hours (+351 968 617 085) or check the Facebook page or website.
Taproom is located at Rua Damasceno Monteiro 8A, Lisbon, Portugal 1170-313 (in Graça, Lisboa).