Senescal Brewery: Castro Marim’s new craft beer
Gabriel adding dried figs

Senescal Brewery: Castro Marim’s new craft beer

Inspired by local history and culture

Senescal Brewery is a new brand of craft beer from the eastern Algarve town of Castro Marim which melds local quality ingredients with the history of the land, inspired by the Templars and the local castle.

Gabriel Silveira, 44, turned the garage of his house in Quinta da Cerca into a small production unit and started developing his recipes in 2020, when he found himself without work due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The process was fine-tuned for a few months until he was ready to bottle his first beers.

“I had never thought about producing beer, but when I decide to do it, I dove deep with the goal of creating this brand,” Silveira told Barlavento newspaper.

“It was a good moment to try to create something new. I lived for over a decade in the UK, where I worked in a pub which specialised in Real Ale, the most natural beer there is, and I fell in love,” he said.

Senescal Brewery: Castro Marim’s new craft beer
Inspired by local history

“In England, I had already researched local beers because I was interested in the ingredients. When I started producing, the recipes started appearing in my head. Of course, there were adjustments, but I knew what to do,” he said.

Silveira took the list of grains from the main supplier in Portugal and chose barley from a malt house in Netherlands, which has existed since 1903.

“That is the main ingredient,” he explained. “And I use several types, with different levels of roasting or malting to give it flavour.

“I use 14 to 15 different types of barley, to which I add hop for bitterness (which I also use many different types of), yeast and water. It is simple. The base is created by combining barley and hop. In some varieties, I also use a bit of wheat and fruits,” explained the beermaker.

Senescal Brewery: Castro Marim’s new craft beer
Craft production

The process may not seem too hard, but it requires precision.

“It is like making a cake. The recipe may change, but the essence cannot change for it to work,” said Silveira.

Despite his craft production, he guarantees that there is a “standard of quality” he strives for to ensure that the “aroma, flavour and colour” of a Senescal beer is always the same.

Seven varieties of beer have been produced so far, all in 33cl bottles: Royal IPA (India Pale Ale), with its “fruity taste and generous pinch of bitterness”; Cardinal Ale, an attempt to recreate the strong beer produced by monks; Porter, a “soft and flavourful” beer inspired by the ideals of “cavalry and their code of conduct”; and Templar Stout, which uses a combination of roasted malt to create a beer that “honours the bravery and loyalty of Templar Knights to their Order”.

The three remaining beers have been created from local partnerships: Lager Delight is produced with carobs provided by Vila Real de Santo António’s organic grocery store Meio Limão; Algarvian Sunrise is made with dehydrated orange skins from VRSA’s Jossy’s The American Burger; and Mystic Brew is brewed with sun-dried figs from Quinta da Fornalha.

For now, the beers can be found at the following establishments: Velho Cavalinho Taberna Medieval (Castro Marim); Wild Thing (Cabanas de Tavira); Cafe Bar 22, Mercearia Sabores da Terra (Tavira); Bistro Bar Latté (VRSA); Jossy’s The American Burguer (VRSA); and Restaurante 3 Marias (VRSA).

Senescal Brewery: Castro Marim’s new craft beer
Gabriel Silveira

Inspired by local history

Gabriel Silveira is a history buff. He was born in Brazil but moved with his family to Southern France at a tender age.

“I lived between castles and vineyards, which means I am passionate about history and culture, and anything that is medieval.”

As soon as he moved to Castro Marim three years ago, the first thing he did was take his daughters to the local castle.

“Portugal has a lot of history. It’s fascinating! Several names came to me, but I ended up focusing on the Templar Order. The first barracks of their knights were in Castro Marim. When I discovered that, I realised there was a connection I could make,” he said, explaining that Senescal was the name given to the ‘right-hand man’ of the Templar Knights’ grand master.

Original article written by Maria Simiris for Barlavento newspaper