Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Strandworthy: Novo Brazil Brewing Offers Craft Beer and Food with a Tropical Twist

Novo Brazil Brewing offers spacious indoor and outdoor dining with picturesque vistas. Photo courtesy of Novo Brazil Brewing

“Stay as long as you want,” is the motto of Novo Brazil Brewing, which recently opened its newest location in Imperial Beach’s Bikeway Village. “Our goal is to bring the happiness of Brazil to the U.S.” emphasizes Owner Tiago Carneiro. As a Brazilian, he naturally loves fútbol, or soccer as Americans call it, and notes that, “We wanted to create a fun environment as a sports and family friendly brewery, with homemade food and beverages, combined with large screen televisions and a kids’ area.”

Owner Tiago Carneiro, Photo courtesy of Novo Brazil Brewing

Of the menu, he says, “I want to bring the essence of Brazilian food in a way that Americans can understand it. We strive for artisan food, all homemade with love.” This is evidenced in everything Novo Brew exudes, from their colorful toucan logo, décor, beer and kombucha flavors and can design, and tropical-inspired cuisine and drinks.

Carneiro, hails from Belo Horizonte in Brazil, where he started working in his family’s restaurants at a young age. Fast forward to university where he then studied food engineering. His family’s restaurant chain in Brazil placed an emphasis on offering all homemade products and they produced everything from bread to soda, and then got into beer making. Soon, the Wals Brewery was born, and by 1999, Carneiro says it was the most relevant microbrewery in Brazil, with the goal to make the best beer in the world, which they achieved in 2014 as a World Beer Cup gold medalist.

When he had a vision to learn even more about craft beer, he chose to relocate to the U.S., because it seemed to be the driving force with San Diego specifically as a major hub. Upon studying the market, he saw that North County was much more saturated with breweries than South Bay, and so they opened the first location in Chula Vista.

Having been an exchange student in Brazil, I have an affinity for Brazilian food and was especially interested to try the Brazilian appetizer options like coxinha, which are chicken croquettes. They have sized them smaller to make them easy to eat, with the accompanying chimichurri sauce. The cheese and beef empanadas are a popular  and delicious option, and they even offer a Brazilian hot dog. Carneiro highly recommends one of the heartier dishes like Picanha skewers, which is savory prime sirloin steak, served with Brazilian-style white rice and black beans, and I recommend adding on the deliciously seasoned Yucca fries. Director of Marketing Patricia Sobue raves about the avocado salad that comes with plantain chips, avocado, and pumpkin seeds, topped with a caipirinha dressing. There is also a selection of burgers, sandwiches, burritos, and more. The cuisine is a mix of American, Mexican, and Brazilian options, with some vegan and gluten free options.

Novo Brazil Brewing offers a wide array of beers, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic kombuchas.

With an array of 64 beer and kombucha choices, their best-selling hard kombucha is the Sexy Pina Colada and their most requested IPA is the mango. The extensive drink menu also includes a California Spritz menu, as well as hard seltzers and non-alcoholic kombuchas. Hard kombucha flavors also include Mango Chili, Hot Cactus, Peachy Lychee, Watermelon Mint, and Hibiscus Lavender, to name just a few. I had my team try these and they were a hit, with comments like “Much smoother than other kombucha I’ve tried, with subtle flavors,” and “Light, refreshing and very tasty.”

Photo courtesy of Novo Brazil Brewing

When we had dinner there, the server offered me a taste of the non-alcoholic watermelon lime kombucha before ordering and it was delicious, with less fermentation flavor than other kombuchas I have tried. My neighbors Gil and Alexis weighed in on the beer flight, which they enjoyed, citing the Momo Haze IPA as their favorite with a grapefruit aroma and a light citrusy taste. The sampler also included the mango, the Ipanema, named for the famous Rio de Janeiro beach, and the Chula beers.

Carneiro emphasizes that their company values include working hard, being happy, not taking shortcuts, and brewing the best quality beverages.

“We also strive to make a difference and give back to the community,“ he comments.  They are involved with many philanthropic endeavors throughout the county, including Rady’s Children’s Hospital.

Photo courtesy of Novo Brazil Brewing

From just 10 employees in 2018 — Novo Brazil Brewing also has locations in Chula Vista, Otay Ranch Mall, Ocean Beach, 8th and Market in National City — to now 100 employees. Expansion continues as they are getting ready to open another location in the Westfield Mission Valley Mall, one in San Antonio, Texas, and potentially a North San Diego County spot. They also have a partnership with the San Diego Wave, as well as two bars at Snapdragon Stadium.

Novo Brazil Brewing is a quick ride by car or less than 10-mile bicycle trek, with spacious 7,500 square feet indoor and picturesque 3,000 square feet outdoor patio vistas, complete with handmade Brazilian tables for sipping and noshing in Imperial Beach at 535 Florence Street.

For details, check out www.novobrew.com or call 619-251-7112. Novo Brazil beers and kombuchas can be purchased on-site or at Vons, Albertsons, and Whole Foods, to enjoy at home.

Jennifer Velez
Jennifer Velez
Jennifer fell in love with Coronado as a teenager while visiting a college friend. She vowed that someday she would make it her home, and that dream has recently become a reality. Fast forward through completing college with a BA in Journalism, Public Relations and Communications, she then went on to work with a variety of clients. She also taught Journalism and coordinated fundraising for her children’s school, and was a staff writer for San Diego Family Magazine and contributed to other parenting publications. Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]