Chile’s Kross Brewery wins big at International Beer Challenge

Seven beers for seven medals: the premium brewery’s outstanding performance in England is part of a microbrew renaissance in Chile, where craft beer is on the rise.

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They took off for England with seven beers, and they returned victorious with seven medals. The success of Chilean brewery Kross at the 2011 International Beer Challenge was the latest instance of international fanfare for the local brewing tradition.

The International Beer Challenge took place in London, and brought together more than 60 brands from 30 countries, including big commercial operations like Samuel Adams as well as microbreweries from England, Scotland, and Germany. Kross was the only Chilean brewery at this year’s competition.

The 50-person expert panel awarded Kross’s Lupulus beer a silver medal in the Extra Special Bitter category, a style of beer originally from England.

Kross wrote on their Facebook page that the win was a special triumph for Kross, since they were competing as an “outsider” on the beer’s home turf. They credited the Lupulus’ special English hops, as well as the water quality at the brewery location in the Curacaví Valley.

Along with Lupulus, Kross entered their Golden Ale, Stout, Pilsner, Maibock, Kross 5 and Abby Ale into the contest. All six received bronze medals in their respective categories.

Kross beers have been reaping awards this year; in May, they won two medals at a beer competition in Buenos Aires, and two more medals in Australia in April.

The spectacular results in London are part of a domestic boom in premium microbrews. Last year, Chileans drank more beer than either wine or pisco, two alcoholic beverages firmly associated with the national identity.

Beer, however, seems to be positioning itself as a third pillar, and not just as a cheap alternative: last year, 20 percent of beer sales came from premium microbreweries, and 13 percent by volume.