Chile is a country typically known for its wine – but the craft beer or “cerveza artesanal” market is quickly picking up steam in the Andean nation.
There’s no better place to feel the pulse of the Chilean brewery industry than the Oktoberfest Fiesta de la Cerveza, which will take place October 30 through November 11 at the Centro de Eventos Munich in Malloco, about 30 kilometers (18 miles) outside of Santiago.
The eighth year of the festival will feature tastings from over 200 local and international beers. According to organizers, over 100,000 attendees are expected to attend over the course of the festival.
Oktoberfest holds a special place in the heart of Chile’s craft brewing industry. The event is largely responsible for launching Chile’s microbrew culture, according to Andrés Toro. Toro is one of the owners of Cerveza Guayacan, a beer brewed in Valle de Elqui in Northern Chile.
“Oktoberfest was the initial instance where craft beers were introduced to the public and where the public that was interested in beer could find products from around the country,” Toro told ThisisChile.
The industry has since grown steadily, with more varieties of beer available from a wider range of locations in Chile. While lager-style beers have traditionally been prevalent in Chile’s Los Lagos Region thanks to an influx of German immigrants to the area in the 1850s, microbreweries are now popping up across the Andean nation.
Cerveza Guayacan, for example, is brewed in Valle de Elqui in Northern Chile. For Toro, the location was a natural choice because of the area’s rich history and unique natural resources. His brewery is now in the process of building a larger plant in order to meet the growing demand for his product.
“We realized when we started that the majority of the breweries were located in the South (especially with a German influence) and in Santiago, but the north had not explored this industry. So we decided to find a place with story, with an important origin, and where tourism is an important activity. We also found that the water here is very well suited for the beers we were doing, so we decided to settle in the Elqui Valley,” he said.
You can try Cerveza Guayacan’s beer and hundreds of others at Oktoberfest next weekend.
Prices and how to get there
Ticket prices range from US$2.20 (CLP2,000) to US$12.00 (CLP6,000) based on day of event and age of attendee. The full price breakdown and more information can be found at the official website.
Round trip bus service between Santiago and the event is being offered every 15 minutes from Terminal San Borja (San Francisco de Borja 122), one block south of Estación Central metro. Each way costs US$2.00 (CLP1,000).
To reach the festival by car from Santiago, take Autopista del Sol and exit on Bajada de Malloco, then drive until the Malloco crossroad. Turn left on Camino Antiguo a Melipilla (towards Talagante) until Colonia Alemana, located at kilometer 31 on Camino Antiguo a Melipilla.