Can Chilean Craft Beer Make it in America?

Brave%20Red%20AleThough not everything was that different. Rothhammer — the brewery I thought most stood out — had several beers that could have been from any American producer. Their Brave Red Ale was the most distinct pour of the day. With a pleasantly loud bitterness, it fit the extreme taste-profile of U.S. beers.

The hops in Brave Red Ale reflected a theme. Chilean beer dates back to mid-19th century, when German immigrants began brewing in the country. Brave Red Ale contained Germany’s Magnum hops, along with two varietals common to the American craft movement: Cascade and Mosaic.

British hops were also much in use. Guayacán, another standout brewer from the tasting, made their stout with Kent Golding hops (along with Cascade and Germany’s Hallertau). The result was a classic taste — light, smooth and slightly malty — like any fine stout from the British Isles.

The barleywines by Rothhammer and Quimera were also memorable. Less thick than American counterparts, they both still packed that boozy punch of sweet, dark-fruit flavors.

The IPAs seemed less bitter than ours. And the ambers were not as smooth. A number of breweries had pale ales, a style more popular overseas than in America. Again, these pale ales featured flavors (pineapple, in one instance) unlike those typical to U.S. craft.

Chilean craft beer has yet to make a dent in the American market. The tasting was an early effort to do just that. The long-term success of this mission depends on whether U.S. consumers find these dissimilar flavors off-putting — or pleasingly different from the same-old extreme beers they’ve been drinking.

¡Salud!

Kyle Swartz is associate editor of Beverage Dynamics Magazine. Email him at kswartz@epgmediallc.com

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