In my preparations for my time in Chile, I was searching for all manner of resources, HBSs, breweries, etc., and in the process came across Beervana, a recently opened bottle shop in the Providencia area of Santiago, and I immediately put it on my list of places to get to. It being my birthday, I treated myself to my first make-your-own six pack in about two years. How fun! In the process, I had the chance to talk with Ben Wood, co- owner and founder of Beervana, and he agreed to answer a few of my follow questions about Chilean beer. Here’s what he had to say:
What is Beervana and what is the story behind it?
Beervana is a Bottle Shop and Distribution company that I started with my business partner in 2013. We opened the shop about 3 weeks ago and we distribute to a few bars and restaurants here in Santiago, Valparaiso, Vina del Mar and Pucon. The idea for Beervana started originally as an import company, I had just quit my job working for Ballast Point as their New York sales rep and was planning to move to Chile. My ex-boss put me in touch with an exporter based in Japan that exports beer and we connected and started putting pencil to paper. I met Perry, my business partner and fellow beer nerd, down here in 2012. We had similar ideas in terms of importing and the idea for the bottleshop came about as well. We really got going on things in 2013 and made it a reality after a lot of hard work, beauracracy and hurdles but now in 2014, here we are.
What are some of the trends you see in Chilean craft brewing?
I see a lot of “mirroring” of the US craft beer scene, at one point everyone wanted to do a Black IPA, then people started doing Imperial everything, and now just recently Saisons are starting to catch on, despite the fact that there are no commercial examples of what a Saison should be.
What are some breweries or beers that you personally are most excited about in Chile?
Pretty much anything from the breweries above.
If you’re in Santiago, what’s a great place to try some Chilean craft beers?
In Santiago, you can go to Rubik in Barrio Italia, Amadeus in Parque Bustamante, St Patricks Day in Barrio Brasil, and the White Rabbit in Bellavista.
What do people ask for at Beervana?
We get asked a lot for Dogfish Head, who don’t export. But besides, that IPAs are a big thing we get asked for.
How is/might “craft” beer be defined in Chile?
“Craft” is has many definitions here, so much so that it gets redundant. People refer to it as “artesenal” or “Premium” and there seems to be a common misconception that if the beer is unfiltered it makes it “more artisanal” for whatever reason. I describe craft beer here as “independent” breweries more than “artesenal”.
Do you see anything uniquely Chilean among breweries in Chile (in terms of style, approach, ingredients, etc.)?
The approach is all pretty much the same, Chile is heavily influenced by all things German so the styles, use of hops, etc are all pretty German in nature. There are some breweries who are pushing the envelope a bit more with IPAs, Belgian styles, and using local ingredients.
Thanks again, Ben! If you’re ever in Santiago, be sure to stop by Beervana, located at Los Leones 106 (n.b. that’s not Nueva Los Leones, which is on the north side of Providencia), between the Tobalaba and Los Leones Metro stops.