Beer flows freely as Oktoberfest welcomes crowds

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Published On : Thu, Oct 24th, 2013

Masses arrive at this year’s Oktoberfest to sample the best artisanal brews as Chilean craft beers goes from strength to strength.

A bartender tops up a customer at last year’s Oktoberfest in Chile. Photo by Deivinson Tejeda / Flickr

A bartender tops up a customer at last year’s Oktoberfest in Chile. Photo by Deivinson Tejeda / Flickr

Hordes of thirsty revelers will advance on Peñaflor, 21 miles southwest of Santiago, to down ale by the barrel load as the country’s largest beer festival kicks off Thursday evening. The 9th Oktoberfest — Fiesta de la Cerveza will run until Nov. 3 at Malloco’s Centro de Eventos Munich and is inspired by the famous German event which celebrates all things Bavarian each year in Munich — namely huge glass steins brimming with beer.

Chile’s edition of Oktoberfest first took place in 2005 and has grown in size and popularity since, now welcoming thousands of brewers and enthusiasts alike each year. More than 200 varieties of artisanal ale from breweries all over the country will be available, including a number of European lagers. Revellers will also be able to line their stomachs with hearty German fare and artisan breads before sampling the many varieties of beer.

Last year’s event attracted more than 100,000 people with organizers expecting a similar number this year.

Interest in craft beers has experienced a boom in recent years throughout Chile with over 50 microbrews on show this year — compared to the solitary one when the festival first started in Malloco in 2005.

Javier Troncoso Anderson, head brewer at the Grassua Brewery, part of the Yellow Sea beer company based in Araucanía Región, has witnessed the popularity of artisan beers rocket during the last ten years.

“With Chile becoming wealthier people’s tastes have changed and there is more of a demand for quality beers,” he told 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.”

Anderson added that events like Oktoberfest play a key role in building a demand for high-quality beer.

“The main beers on the market are industrially brewed lagers but we take more time and use quality ingredients to create beers with more interesting flavours,” he said. “Grassau Brewery has showcased its range of craft beers at Oktoberfest for the last four years — the event is a great way to show people the benefits of well brewed beers.”

Each of Oktoberfest’s 11 days boasts a schedule of shows and live music from 12:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. One of the annual highlights is the “Queen of Oktoberfest” beauty competition, which sees aspiring “beer royalty” battle it out for the prestigious title. Every year men and women dress up in both traditional German and Chilean garb to perform dances igniting spontaneous parties all around the festival.

Indigenous Rapa Nui music, originating from Easter Island, accompanied by dance group Puku Rangi Tea are scheduled to perform as well as bands playing Cueca, cumbia and 80s rock. A tribute band to The Doors caps off the diverse entertainment program. The full lineup can be seen on the festival website.

Buses to the festival leave from Terminal San Borja, drivers should take the Autopista del Sol and exit on Bajada de Malloco. Full directions can also be found on the website.

Gates are open from 12:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

By George Nelson (nelson@santiagotimes.cl)
Copyright 2013 – The Santiago Times

About the Author

George Nelson
George is the Deputy Editor of The Santiago Times and writes on social issues, art, and sport. He has worked as a freelance reporter in the U.S., UK, and Argentina for publications including the Buenos Aires Herald, Argentina Independent, and Vice. Contact him at nelson@santiagotimes.cl