It’s not just the wine that makes Chile a good place to go for a drink. Today some of the best beverage enjoyment comes from a nice blend of hops and barley and there is no better time to sample the growing selection of beers than at the annual Fiesta de la Cerveza held just outside the capital.
Photo by Kendal Montgomery (click for more photos)
Held in Malloco, now for its fifth year, the event is a barometer of the microbrew industry in Chile. In its first year the founder of the event and owner of German-styled Restaurant El Münchner, Milda de Zahlhaas, brought together three brewers in an effort to replicate the Oktoberfest atmosphere from Munich.
The first event was held in the parking lot of the restaurant.
Since then, the number of microbreweries of all sizes has exploded and this year over 40 brewers brought their ales, stouts, lagers and pilsners to a public of some 80,000 people over two weeks.
We had several rounds of Schops (draught beer) and bottled beer from some old favorites and newcomers, with varying levels of success. Some of the bigger, easier-to-find brews recommended, as a good place to start sampling Chile’s finest microbrews, are:
Szot’s ales have received widespread attention and rightly so. Its strong ale, amber ale and vapor lager keep us coming back for more. Find it now bottled in Lider and in restaurants.
Always a good choice, especially its blond and amber ales. Kross can be found on tap in a variety of restaurants like La Fuente Chilena in Las Condes.
Now one of the most widely distributed microbrews in restaurants throughout Santiago, Mestra has evolved into a solid, professional brand. Its two strongest brews are the Blond and Amber Ales.
According to Kevin Szot, owner of the Szot brewery, while the number of breweries in Chile has been growing, there is still plenty of room for more within the industry.
“There is still a lot of space in the market, the microbrewery movement is still very new,” Szot said while taking a break from pouring beer at his stand.
But the public was thirsty and willing to sample even the newest brews in the event, like the Stark’s Pale Ale, or the “only for men” barley wine that boasts 10% alcohol from Vendetta.
The event wasn’t all drinking. To liven it up the agenda featured BBQ choripan, a zip line, children’s games, a beauty contest, dance parties, live music and even a police dog show where the canines stand at attention and almost salute.
The Festival de Cerveza is held every year towards the end of October beginning of November, visit their website for more photos and information about Chile’s new growing brew industry.
Festival de Cerveza 2009