The craft beer movement that started in Portland, Oregon in the 1980s has found landfall at the bottom end of the world, with the appearance of the first craft and microbreweries in Patagonia.
Hotel Las Torres now makes its own craft beer at a tiny microbrewery in the shadow of the famous granite towers. Using glacier water brought down from the mountain on horseback, brothers Federico and Maximiliano Gil from the hotel’s Bar Pionero make a homegrown beer called “Pionera” in a log cabin just outside the bar.
Founded in the 1890s by German immigrant Jose Fischer, Cerveza Austral in Punta Arenas is the world’s southernmost beer-making company. Patagonia’s oldest brewery produces a wide variety of suds, from Torres del Paine Lager and Calafate Ale (flavored with the famous berry) to Yagán Dark and Patagona Pale Ale.
A couple of other tasty artisinal beers are brewed on the northern fringe of Patagonia including Colonos and Salzburg in the Lakes Region and D’olbek in the city of Coyhaique. Salzburg boasts an amazing Doppelbock among its stable of four brews, Colonos a very nice wheat beer, while D’olbek goes totally off the charts with its fruity Maqui.
Punta Arenas even has its own beer festival, albeit in the middle of the southern hemisphere winter (July). This year’s version, staged at Sokol Gymnasium, was called Fiesta de la Cerveza Artesanal Negra and dedicated to dark craft brews.