Santiago Bierfest 2010

For the average foreigner in Santiago, drinking is normally cheap and easy. A liter or two of Escudo or Cristal, or maybe a bottle of Capel and a few liters of Coke will usually get the job done.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Kendal Montgomery

On the second weekend of January, however, the inaugural Santiago Bierfest came together to change that perception by showcasing more than 25 Chilean artisan breweries and importers. The event was Santiago’s first beer festival--a tagline which called out to the pickiest of beer connoisseurs and Friday-night drinkers alike.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

Handcrafted amber and golden ales filled plastic cups and glass mugs as event visitors meandered through Parque Padre Hurtado under the weekend sun.

Capital, a local brewery, had a strong gathering at their booth thanks to their three-beers-in-one-bag promotion for CP$2,000 which included a pale ale, Indian ale and an amber ale.

For some, however, the price of the afternoon was steep. After a CP$3,500 entrance fee for adults (children and families were encouraged to attend), Bierfesters had to pay for all beer and food. Many were still more than willing to pay full price- if not for the lager, then for the festival's environment.

Santiago Chile
Photo by Iván Núñez

“Yeah, the entrance was expensive, but I agree with it. It’s not very common that there are beer festivals... and La Reina isn’t known for being a cheap place, so it was normal,” said Santiago agronomist Francisco Berrios.

“It was an organized and clean event, so it was worth it,” he said. “But it would have been nice if the entrance fee came with a free drink.”

Event organizers weren’t available for comment.

In an attempt to ease the burden on visitors' wallets, most vendors offered reduced prices on their beer if a visitor also bought a mug from one of the stands. The third mug full of golden lager for CP$1,000 practically pays for itself instead of the CP$2,000 one would normally pay for a large plastic cup.

Not all vendors sold Chilean beers. Schöfferhofer’s imported grapefruit beer was a popular choice at Bierfest. The German brew is the brand’s best seller in Germany and is doing well in the foreign market. Priscila Rojas, a representative at Santiago Bierfest, said that the low alcohol content (2.5 percent), natural juice and the fact that it’s a new item make it a hit.

As the inaugural debut of the festival, Bierfest plans on making its return next January, 2011.

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