Chile’s Oktoberfest — a hopping success

Chilean take on a German classic attracts hordes of thirsty revelers for several days of culture, fun, and of course, beer.

Lederhosen, traditional polynesian dancing, and beer — a strange mix? Perhaps, but an enjoyable and successful one nonetheless. This was the scene at Chile’s recent Oktoberfest celebrations, a popular and unique meeting of cultures that sees the best of Bavaria transported to the Andean nation for a few days each year.

Following in the footprints of its successful predecessors, this year’s festival once again took over Peñaflor —  21 miles southwest of Santiago — attracting more than 100 thousand thirsty revelers over almost two weeks.

Visitors enjoyed a range of hearty German fare and artisan breads before sampling the myriad craft beers available. With artisanal ale on offer from breweries from all over the country, as well as Europe, the event was a real treat for beer aficionados.

According to Javier Troncoso Anderson, head brewer at the Grassua Brewery, part of the Yellow Sea Beer Company based in Araucanía Región, the popularity of Artisan beers has rocketed in the last decade as Chileans develop a taste for top-quality ale.

“With Chile becoming wealthier people’s tastes have changed and there is more of a demand for quality beers,” Anderson said to The Santiago Times. “As more and more tourists visit Chile we learn about different cultures, tastes and ways of creating beer. I think craft beers will only become more popular as time goes on.”

Chile boasts a number of acclaimed breweries, many of them able to trace their roots back to German specialists who immigrated to the country more than a hundred years previously. Principally between the latter half of the 19th and the early 20th century, more than 40 thousand Germans settled in the Andean nation, adding further cultural diversity to Chile’s already cosmopolitan demographic.

The country’s Oktoberfest is, of course, based on the famous German event, — taking place each year in Munich since 1810 —  but the Santiago event benefits from a few little unique twists and a touch of Chile thrown in, such as traditional dance from Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

Many more instances of the mixing of German and Chilean culture can be found around the Andean nation, especially in the Araucania Region where most immigrants settled constructing beautiful villages in a colonial style. Many of these are now listed heritage buildings and can be seen throughout Southern Chile in towns such as Puerto Varas, Frutillar, Puerto Octay and Valdivia.