Santiago, Chile has very suddenly become Latin America’s center of craft beer. Unlike the beer in the more-German influenced south of Chile, Santiago’s micro-brew scene has a much wider set of influences that extends to the UK and the Pacific coast of the United States. While there are no beer tours in Santiago per se, several of the city’s top breweries do open their doors to visitors.Here are my recommendations:
After getting the recipe down, California native Kevin Szot and his Chilean wife purchased a second-hand Belgian-built brewing plant and production has been rising steadily. Szot has made one of the biggest impacts on Chile’s beer industry and the brewery has won numerous regional competitions. Szot’s brewery creates one of the most interesting selections beer in Chile and the region. Types include: a Stout, Pale Ale, Barley Wine, Amber Ale, Strong Ale, Pilsner, Blond Vapor, and Wild Ale. The brewery and tasting room is open most Saturdays from 12-3pm (call/check their Facebook page to confirm). They offer a CP$12,000 per person tour with tastings of their beers and snacks. It’s about 30 minutes from downtown Santiago, either by bus or car, in the town of Malloco. Stopping here is a must on any Chile beer tour. (szot.cl)
Set in an industrial neighborhood in Santiago is this tiny brewery is operated by Loreto Cruz, a secretary for 25 years who fell in love with beer and opened a small craft brewery after taking a weekend brewing course and pooling money together from family. Now it’s an inspiration for young, female brewers in Chile and produces six excellent beers: a porter, an English-style bitter, two IPAs, a Pale Ale, and a Golden Ale. While Cerveza Leyenda does not have a formal tour, if you come to the brewery Loreto or her assistant will happily show you around. It’s on Avda. Vicuña Mackenna 1448 in Ñuñoa and can be reached by the Metro. (cervezaleyenda.cl)
This small brewery in the northern reaches of Santiago has quietly been expanding since it opened in 2009. They have three natural, unfiltered brews and have begun operating half-day brewery tours with transportation from Providencia to the town of Batuco north of the city for CP$20,000 (or CP$15,000 without transportation). (cervezacapital.cl)
TheKross brewery isn’t exactly in Santiago. Though if you have a car or are headed to Valparaiso or Viña del Mar anyway, it’s not inconvenient. It sits in the town of Curacaví, in the Casablanca Valley (between Santiago and Valparaiso) where some of Chile’s best white wines are produced. This award winning brewery was founded by German immigrant Asbjorn Gerlach in 2003 and has quickly become one of the preeminent breweries in Chile and the world’s largest winery, Concha y Toro, has purchased a significant stake in operations. Inside is a big, glossy brewery that rivals many of the nearby wine bodegas. Using all natural ingredients, Gerlach produces a Golden Ale, Stout, Maibock, and their Kross 5, an oak aged strong ale. They experiment often and sometimes you can find originals such as an Imperial Blueberry Porter, a Chocolate Stout, and an extra special bitter called Lupulus. The brewery is open to the public and you can stop in and pick up a few beers from their store and have a pint while watching the brewers from a lookout point above the brewery. (kross.cl)
While this lively craft beer bar and breweryin Barrio Yungay produces a few beers, which they have on tap (a stout, a golden ale, and a barley wine), you’re most likely coming here to taste microbrews from all over Chile. Cervecería Nacional is the pulse ofChile’s blossoming beer culture in Santiago and they pour more than 70 Chilean beers from 30-odd producers. Considering that most brewers in Chile do not have formal facilities, this has become the informal tasting room for all of them. Plus they serve a small menu that pairs well with beer: beef tongue sandwiches with stout mayo, meat or cheese plates (tablas), wood fired pizzas, etc. (cervecerianacional.cl)
Writer and photographer Nicholas Gill is the editor/publisher of New World Review. He lives in Lima, Peru and Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in publications such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CondeNast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Afar, and Penthouse. Visit his personal website (nicholas-gill.com) for more information.