A truism universally understood when you’re seeking good things to imbibe in virtually any city: The best hide behind the most unassuming of façades. We knew as we sat down at 21 Brewpub Gallas that if we lived in their neighborhood in Lisbon, we’d be regulars, its line of taps our new “local.”
On a Friday night, we came early, around 8 pm, and found seats as we contemplated the healthy beer board describing 15 taps, and the dozens of bottled and canned craft beers from around the world lining the fridges and shelves of the small space. We talked with the barkeep to discuss our choices—two of the Gallas beers to start, for certain—and found out that those beers were brewed on the premises. Downstairs. Sweet.
It’s a cosy spot, with football (soccer) on the telly, and close-together tables that encourage you to meet your neighbors. Over the course of the evening we’d learn that not only was our bartender from Brasil, but also the seasoned traveler on the bar stool next to our table. As the beer flowed, the tales spun out. But I digress…
To begin, I selected a NEIPA, the Gallas Dona Fil IPA, and my partner in crime chose the single-hopped Gallas Simcoe IPA. The Fil IPA, at 9% abv, was golden in color and a little hazy, true to form, and full of luscious grapefruit aromas and flavors. I brought a bottle home with us—my favorite of the evening. But the fun was far from over. The Simcoe was also a faithful representative of its namesake, at 6% abv, and fresh citrus and pine resin aromas. More lemony peel on the palate, and smooth, with a low level of carbonation that my boyfriend loved, being British and all.
Next, I went deep, with the Gallas 4×4 Black IPA (yes, these were all 25ml imperials that we shared). Yes, a deep, dark brown, with a tan and creamy head. As I expected by its look, the 4×4 gave forth mild chocloate, soy, and malt aromas, paired with cocoa on the palate and a bitter back. Nice.
To balance that, we went off-site for the next imperial, the Dark Horse DIPA, Smells Like A Safety Meeting (the reference to which our new compadres had to explain to us). For those not in the know, the aromas of treacle and herbal-y mint on the nose, and more herbs on the palate might not register as the “herb” for which a “meeting” might be invoked. This hazy amber brew came away tasting balanced, with a nice bitterness to the finish. 8.5% abv
To go with our highly tasty pregos (a beef sandwich made to order by our friend behind the bar), I went for the Gallas Extremadura Habanero IPA, at 6% abv and brewed with the aforementioned peppers. Its golden to amber color and low carbonation gave way to the chiles that I could smell just waving my nose across the mouth of the glass. The moderate, tongue-wrapping heat on the palate is not for the uninitiated, and I’m glad I had a sandwich to go alongside. The beer was more intriguing than anything else.
Moving swiftly along to the next brew we shared, I found the refreshing Gallas Lab 01, Hoppy Weiss, at 4.8% abv, a perfect antidote to the previous mouth-sweating experience. With a light golden color, and floral coriander throughout, I marked this one down as another I’d have again, particularly on a patio somewhere.
Finally, I tried the Gallas flagship, the CaparIPA, at 5.6% abv. A golden, clear brew, the CaparIPA lets loose fresh citrus aromas and juicy citrus flavors neatly balanced with the bitters. Definitely a beer you could enjoy all evening long.
And it turns out we did nearly that, not leaving until after 11 pm (we’re not real night owls) with a collection of stories and a bag full of beers from Garage Beer Co (Barcelona) and Gallas for the road. One of them, the WIT Cinco de Abril, references the Carnation Revolution (on the 25 of April, 1974) memorialized in Portugal when the dictatorship was overthrown. With golden color and the oranges from Algarve perfuming the nose—joining ginger and coentros (cilantro) on the palate—I’ll have to find more for the upcoming holiday. 5% abv at that.