Friday, June 7, 2013

Chilean craft beer

Just met me the former manager of production at CCU, the massive Chilean company that makes nearly all the big wig beer for South America. cervezas-argentina

This is how it went down:

Older gentleman with greying beard, flanel shirt and Einstein peppered hair- "what you doing in France?"

Nitch- "I make beer."

Chilean- "You do WHAT?!" He might not be able to hear me through his nest of hair, his lack of english might require more diction on my part or he could simply be generally confused about the statement.

Nitch- "I uhh, I make beer and... blog about it."

Chilean- <Blank stare>

Nitch- "Do you uhh, do you like beer?"

Chilean- "I made beer for 20  years."

Nitch- "So... you like it?"

After a few minutes of french to spanish to english translations, we concluded that him and his wife love good beer and know the difference between good and no so good. Recenly having tasted a beer infused with orange that they hated. Which means I put them in my friend bracket, because Shock Top is not a beer, it is a soda that gets you drunk.

[caption id="attachment_646" align="alignleft" width="328"]Crystal is one of those mass produced lager types, thus, hot chicks Crystal is one of those mass produced lager types, thus, hot chicks[/caption]

Five kids, six grand kids and a rentel company later, my new friends are partialy retired and traveling around the world. The brewing thing wasn't that exciting as he wasn't very hands on and had a lot of time management pressures that kept him and his wife from getting toes into the that culture of craft beer love that Nitch oh so relishes. He took one look at my brew set up and said, "you made beer with that- you should get it in brass." To which I could only respond, "oh yes! I will! But currently I'm poor."

CCU is the largest Chilean brewer and the second-largest Argentine brewer.

The Company has licensing agreements with Heineken Brouwerijen B.V., Anheuser-Busch Incorporated, Paulaner Brauerei AG, Guinness Brewing Worldwide Limited, Pernod Ricard and Compañía Pisquera Bauzá S.A.

Although Chilean craft beer scene is over shadowed by the well known spicy wines industry of Chile, the movement from mass produced brews and vino consumption is on the decline. Score TWO for the beer culture international! Craft breweries are springing up all over Chile, says my new older gentleman friend.
"It used to be all German stuff but now we have other beer."

Chile has a strong German influence historically spawning from the waves of German immigrants from 1850 and on. Before the Germans Chileans were into the chicha thing, made popular in America by DogFish Head Brewery and their corn chewing cohorts.

Here are a few Chilean craft beer recommendations by New World Review:


Szot – This is in Santiago, but is one of the most ambitious startups. After getting the recipe down, they purchased a second-hand Belgian-built brewing plant and production has been rising steadily. Stout, Pale Ale, Barley Wine, Amber, Pilsner, Vapor

Kuntsmann -  The most significant brewer in the Lakes District. Their large brewery, restaurant, and beer hall just outside of Valdivia is perhaps the center of Chile’s beer culture. They produce bocks, lagers, and ales according to the Reinheitsgebot of 1516. Kuntsmann’s annual beer festival in late January is one of the most significant cultural festivals in Chile. The beer is sold throughout the southern half of Chile in upscale bars and restaurants. The Sam Adam’s of Chile

Pillán– From Pucón, a beer that prides itself on the purity of the water from clean Lakes District streams. Keli Ale (red ale), Kuri Ale (stout), and a Milla Ale (blond)

Valbier– A new microbrewery from Valdivia region recently put out one of the country’s best Amber Ales, which they call Red Ale, as well as a Black Ale. Really promising

Calle Calle– A microbrewery in the heart of Valdivia with German-Belgian tendencies. Llancahue (lager), Cau-cau (blond, 5.2%), and Cutipay (5%) are on hand, as is their Naguilan (5.5%), my favorite, which takes after an Irish stout with hints of chocolate

ValdiviaCuello Negro– Named after a black neck swan that is local to the region, Cuello Negro, has just a Golden Ale (5.8%) and a stout (8%), though they are two of the best beers available in Chile

Kross: In the Casablanca Valley where Chile’s best white wines are produced is this award winning brewery that produces a Strong Ale, Maibock, an oak aged Kross 5 in 750 ml bottles, and three others. They are keen on food pairings. And one of the most progressive brewers.

Mahina – Easter Island’s first brewery opened this year with a stout and a Pale Ale. Their double fermented, non-filtered and pretty decent. I was just on Easter Island tasting these and was really impressed. They’re not overly complex, but taste great and there has to be something said for the first beer produced on the island.

While sniffing around the net, I found that one of my favorite beer writers Mr. Chris O'Brien of Fermenting Revolution: how to drink beer and save the world, had made a visit down to Chile some years back and wrote a sweet travel blog along the way.


The entire world is a beer culture experiment with a constant love of excited taste buds and soothing intoxication. Cheers to the future of Chilean craft beer and to making new friends in odd places!


  1. Thanks for the comments on Chile and on the brewing scene here. I found your post via Google.

    Anyway, CCU is owned abt a third by Heineken and administered/managed by them. They have somewhere around 85% market share in Chile, with the rest being made up by an ABInbev sub (Cerveceria Chile) and imported beers made by ABInbev (like Corona) or SABMILLER (Cuzqueña). Like most countries, Chile is a beer duopoly, or at best an oligopoly. You can buy CCU ADR shares on the NYSE.

    Kuntsmann is not the Sam Adams of Chile, but maybe it would be the Blue Moon or Goose Island, since they are owned 51% by CCU.

    There is indeed a craft beer movement in Chile, plus in Brasil and Argentina. Both SZOT and Kross have won two gold medals each in international competitions, with Kross now being 40% owned by the world´s second largest winery (Concha y Toro). We are about 30-40 years behind the US craft beer experience.

    Seven years ago I told Michael Jackson not to come to Chile, there was nothing to see, unless he wanted to visit wineries. At least that´s changed!

    We welcome all of you to visit us if in Chile, there is now a decent craft beer scene, at least worthy of a side trip, plus there are lots of other interesting areas to explore.



  2. Sorry, forgot to mention that I'm the owner of SZOT.


  3. What a great share of information, Kevin, merci beaucoup! No need to thank me for writing on things I love. I'll keep writing, you keep reading and we'll change the world together. So exciting to see the craft movement spreading over the planet, no matter the time delay, one beer at a time and hopefully Chile will continue to grow. The Belgium of South America, perhaps? ^.^

    It is good to know who is on the macro brew boat and who isn't. We in the beer culture would love to see businesses supporting their local community rather then share holders.

    Would you know of any suppliers that would ship craft Chilean beer? For us hoarders and adventure seekers who don't have the current pleasure of experiencing Chile in this grandeur.

    Merci encore for your universal invitation and sharing your time with us.


  4. Aw and here I thought you were just an extremely "in the know" type person. You are the Chilian craft beer ambassador!

  5. By the way, the photo of the young ladies with CRISTAL swimsuits is the Peruvian brand, not Chilean. As far as I know there is no relation. Plus the ladies in Chile are much prettier than the generic models used in the photo!

    And of the beers you show up top, only one is Chilean: Imperial. Budweiser is distributed by CCU, but that will probably change once the current contract expires, now that ABInbev now owns it and they have a local subsidiary (Cerveceria Chile). Guinness is imported from Italy (!) by Concha y Toro, Heineken is made locally, Salta is Argentine, CORONA is distributed by DESA, but that will change too now that it is also owned by ABInbev, Schneider is Argentine (I have no idea who makes it, I don't follow the big brewers THAT much.)


  6. Where can I find some beer logo covered ladies that we can have to validate your statement that Chilean woman are prettier? For research purposes only, of course. ^.^

    It doesn't seem like you follow the big breweries at all, not much at all. Just natural Chilian beer ambassador knowledge. Are the aforementioned big brewers competition for you or do you lock on a different demographic? I'm going to do some more research and revise this whole posting for the future edition, Mr.Kevin of SZOT. Are there any beer culture blogs in Chile that you can suggest?

    Merci beaucoup for your extremely insightful additions and keep em comin!


  7. Chilean beer blogs

  8. […] about countries like Brazil, Chile, China and South Africa? They are starting to making newer, more complex and possibly even MORE […]