Novo Brazil Brings Delicious Beer to San Diego
Delicious Craft Beer with Novo Brazil
Novo Brazil Brewery
Photo by South Bay Compass
For those of you out of the loop, San Diego is currently home to 123 breweries, brewpubs, and microbreweries with dozens more slated for openings in the near future. Although they were already a big deal, breweries continue to make up one of the fastest growing industries in San Diego. In 2015, the industry gathered $851 million in sales, which is 17% higher than in 2014. Not to mention, in 2015 the industry employed about 4,500 people, which is 20% more than in 2014. So, combining these statistics with the anecdotal evidence of my obsessive beer-drinking relatives who will remain nameless, it’s pretty safe to say that San Diego is the craft brew capital of America. Here is one of the breweries: Novo Brazil in Chula Vista, masterminded by Morise Gusmao and thriving since January 2014.
Born and raised in Brazil, Gusmao came to the US and earned an MBA from Loyola University in Chicago. For a while he was working the bank circuit and making brew on the side. Then in 2008, he realized his true calling and completed the Intensive Brewing Science program at UC Davis. He returned to Brazil and opened Cervejaria Norden in Cabedelo. (Cervejaria = brewery in Spanish, although Brazilians typically speak Portuguese.) Gusmao ran Norden from early 2010 to the close of 2013; he sold Norden in 2013 after over $3 million in sales in that calendar year alone. Gusmao moved to sunny San Diego with his family, acquired the Novo warehouse space and some steel vessels, and brewed away. Within five months of opening Novo Brazil (new Brazil––this title is actually Portuguese), the Union Tribune marked it the third best microbrewery in our sweet San Diego hometown.
Novo Brazil is pretty secluded, located in an unassuming grey building that probably used to be a warehouse for something unspeakably boring. Park and walk under the big rectangle garage door, big enough for a car, and the building opens up into a huge, stylishly repurposed warehouse with huge brewing vessels towering before your eyes. The capacity is ridiculous, and you’ll likely feel both threatened and awed.
This entryway/brewing display room is filled with upright wooden barrels (they’re tables) with steel stools for seating—it’s a nice industrial flair––or you can make your home back into the lounge area with dark grey walls. This is where you’ll find the tap and some vibrant artwork that incorporates toucans and the word “Brazil.” The art is made up of bright and psychedelic patches, wooden barrels, and thick tables made of layered woods. The industrial theme is the grand theme, expressed in facets such as the air vents snaking around the ceiling, the steel beams, a stainless steel tap, and the in-your-face warehouse façade of the entire setup.
The menu is fashioned on a chalkboard in fun and funky alternating colors, and the taps are labeled with equally transient sticky notes. You can get a pint for $9, but your best bet is a tasting flight––four selections, four ounces each, for only $8. They don’t focus on IPA like a lot of breweries do; you can find Belgian styles like trippel and wit along with those of other countries like pilsner and pale ale. Many titles pay homage to Brazil; see the Copacabana IPA, the Nebulosa (“cloudy”) Belgian Wit, and the Cacau-Cacau Session IPA. And what would a Brazilian brewery be without an IPA called Ipanema Girl?
Novo Brazil lets you bring food from outside (consider a massive calzone from the nearby Joe and Ernie’s), and even order food to the premises. This obviously includes the food trucks situated right outside the entryway. Vendors include La California, Brazil On Wheelz, Dos Bandidos, and Full Belly BBQ.
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