Valdivia — the XIV Region town at the confluence of the Calle-Calle, Valdivia and Cau-Cau rivers — has become the heart of the scene. At its core is the German-style Cerveceria Kuntsmann, whose bocks, lagers and ales are brewed according to Reinheitsgebot and sold nationwide like a sort of Chilean Sam Adams. Their sprawling brewery and bier haul sit on the city’s outskirts and is the general starting point for a beer tour. Not far away, toward the center, is the mostly Belgian-style Calle Calle with a number of different beers: Llancahue (lager, 4.6 percent), Cau-Cau (blonde, 5.2 percent), Cutipay (honey ale, 5 percent) and Naguilan (Irish stout, 5.5 percent). Then there’s Cuello Negro, named after a black neck swan native to the region, which produces a smooth golden ale (5.8 percent) and a rather intense stout (8 percent). Valbier produces one of the better amber ales in the country, which they call red ale (5 percent), and recently added a rich black ale (6 percent) to their lineup. There’s also J. Bello, Selva Fría and Cerveceria El Duende, which offers homebrew classes and sells beer-making kits. The list goes on and on.
One usually associates wine with Chile, though this notion is quickly changing. A recent survey reveals that beer consumption in Chile has surpassed that of wine. Goodbye Carmenère, hello porter.
Photos by Nicholas Gill