Back when I ran my blog on That’s the Spirit, I had an occasional feature I called “Great Global Beer Bars.” In it, I featured a few of my favourites and explained precisely what it was about them I thought so laudable, places like the Oud Arsenaal in Antwerp – which I mention not just because Arsenal is playing their final group stage Champions League game today – and the One Pint Pub in Helsinki.
Were I still running this series, I would have one more to add today: FrangÓ!
I spent a large chunk of a day at FrangÓ during my recent visit to São Paulo, but in truth I have no idea how I got there. Sure, it was by taxi, but even with my better-than-average (I believe) sense of direction, the twists and turns we took en route had me completely discombobulated. I’m told that it’s somewhere in the outlying reaches of the city, but for more than that you’re going to have to ask Mr. Google.
Which, if you find yourself in São Paulo, you absolutely should do! Because despite its modest exterior and out of the way locale, FrangÓ is a serious beer bar, one which would stand out in any major beer city anywhere in the world. Walk in the front door and you’ll see a small room backed by a bar and a kitchen where, if you’re lucky, various chicken parts will be aromatically slow roasting on a spit over charcoal. In behind all that is another seating area, a little larger than the front, but still small, and a staircase that takes you to the “Choperia,” which is where FrangÓ really opens up.
The principle destination of the hoards of people who descend on FrangÓ every weekend, the basement Choperia veritably brims with beer, in fridges along one wall, in crawl spaces to one end of the room and in a large cage at the other. And what beers they are! Although imported ales and lagers are by North American standards prohibitively expensive in Brazil,
FrangÓ owner Cássio Piccolo stocks literally hundreds of brews from around the globe, including some he says don’t sell particularly well, but number among his own personal favourites.
And that is what truly strikes at the heart of what makes FrangÓ great: it is a place of true and pure passion for beer, in all its forms and almost infinite flavours. Piccolo founded FrangÓ before it was possible to obtain a wide variety of beers in Brazil, but took that as his mandate anyway because he wanted to lead the way forward for São Paulo and Brazil as a whole. He’s still leading.