Craft beer has exploded in Lisbon, there’s no two ways about it. While a couple of years ago, the whole scene was still very much in a research & development kind of phase, now it’s becoming very clear which breweries are going the distance. Going to the tasting space of Dois Corvos is unlikely to disappoint and the same goes for the beers produced by 8a Colina (especially the IPA) or Mean Sardine. That said, for a craft beer that is a bit more obscure and off the beaten track but still price- and tastewise extremely accessible, there’s the eccentric AMO Brewery, a one-woman operation by Margaret Orlowski.
Margaret actually began as a hobby home-brewer in Canada in 2010 and after moving to Lisbon in 2012, she continued. We mentioned her beer previously in our article on the wonderful Sunday brunches in Quintal but recently, she’s taken it to the next level and in late 2016, she founded the AMO Brewery and seems to have found her footing, judging by the consistent quality of the beer. At the time of writing, AMO Brewery produces six different types of beers and if there’s a common thread that links these beers in terms of flavor and style, it’s that they’re all relatively light and drinkable. While the Witbier is not entirely our thing (never was, never will be), the Coffee Pale Ale is a true highlight in the Portuguese craft beer world: it’s unexpectedly fruity with light hints of flowers and green pepper. The Scottish Pale Ale on the other hand is lovely and malty with notes of caramel, muscovado sugar and molasses but with a slight, subtle notes of bitterness that stick to the side of your tongue.
If there’s one drawback to this place, it’s that you can only go there on Friday evenings when Margaret opens her doors from 5pm until 10pm. If you’re not inclined to go there because maybe it doesn’t fit into your schedule, you can also try and buy her beer at the wine shop Carinho do Vinho, in the Ginja shop at Restauradores (Ginja Sem Rival) or Adamastor Bar.
Other than that, when it’s open, there are many things to love about a place like this brewery. It’s also conveniently located within walking distance from Marquês de Pombal square in a neighborhood which isn’t necessarily buzzing with night life, which makes the randomness of the AMO Brewery there very pleasantly, well, random. The main attraction is that it brings open minded people together for a night of beer-sharing and conversations. Like the Sunday brunches at Quintal which we previously covered and which have unfortunately become very irregular, it’s a gathering of people who like to sit, chat, get to know other people, drink a beer and have some delicious sourdough bread or a fantastic bagel with a great homemade spread that is the perfect food-pairing with Margaret’s beer.
You meet and see people there that you normally wouldn’t meet or see, were it not for the brewery. We’ve said it before and we cannot stress it enough that in times of gentrification and individualism, it’s so important to have and support places like AMO Brewery that are as much a social space as they are about offering something pleasant to eat and drink. It’s such a substantial experience.
The DIY spirit of this place which is not bigger than an apartment, comes shining through in everything: the beautiful, bare-bones hand-drawn labels printed on monochrome colored paper, the random black piano gracing the entree, the contribution box which serves to pay for the food and the fact that if you ask nicely, you can select the music yourself on the laptop. Hell, if you don’t like beer, just go there with a bottle of wine or other beverage of your choice and enjoy the interesting, eclectic company you’re most likely to encounter. There’s not an inch of formality to be found in this place and long may it continue to be this way.
Address: Rua Bernardim Ribeiro 53, 1150-069 Lisboa
Open on Fridays from 5pm until 10pm