Toast with Mugs of Beer
Brazilians love cervejas (beer). Women are beer drinkers on a par with men. With the high demand for beer, the national production of 13 billion liters places Brazil in third place worldwide, after China and the United States (CervBrasil). Happy hour on Friday evenings after work was not only the time for friends to get together after a week of hard work, it was also time for enjoying your favorite beer and trying out new brands.
About a year after joining the staff at Ceará Importers,* the other three female department heads invited me to join them for a happy hour at their favorite barraca on the beach, Praia do Futuro, a fifteen-minute drive from our workplace. Fátima* was a widow with a fifteen-year-old daughter. Regina* was a young married woman with a toddler. Tatiana* was single, with a boyfriend who kept track of her movements by frequent calls to her cell phone. They encouraged me to try a beer.
As an adolescent, after witnessing the violent behavior and human degradation of rum drinkers in my native land, I had made an oath never to consume alcoholic beverages.
“You have to loosen up,” Fátima told me. “Life is tough. We have to take advantage of the good things at our disposal.”
They filled up on six rounds of beers that had to be ice-cold. Fearful of getting tipsy and not getting home safely, I nursed one bottle of beer. I enjoyed our time together and joined them on subsequent occasions when I was not working late.
The last time we spent a happy hour together took place in an upscale restaurant and bar in Fortaleza. We talked about work, life, and our dreams. Our laughter grew louder with each new round of beers. Our waiter surprised us with a free round of beers, compliments of a group of handsome young men at a table nearby. With my self-limit of three beers, I remained totally alert.
We celebrated Regina’s new home-based marmita business venture: hot meals in round aluminum containers delivered to her customers at their workplace. Given the success during her first three months in operation, she invited us to partner with her to cater to the growing demand for her marmitas. Raising our glasses above our heads, we toasted our future together as entrepreneurs.
Our plan for becoming entrepreneurs was short-lived. Shortly afterwards, Regina was fired for embezzling the firm. It was an unsettling time.
Through our happy hours together, I had forged a bond with my female colleagues and was accepted as one of them. I smile on remembering the Friday night we stood on the beach and howled at the full moon.
LEARN ABOUT BRAZIL’S BEER MARKET:
- Associação Brasileira da Indústria da Cerveja (CervBrasil)
- Sindicato Nacional da Indústria da Cerveja (SINDICERV)
- Mintel Press Release, November 2012