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Oh, Beer. The magical, golden liquid has become a religion in many parts of the globe; honoured, worshipped and imbibed every weekend or spare time one gets. And why not? It certainly brings about a freedom of spirit, (though at times a bit excessively), and produces a physical, and literal release (comes in many different forms) – along with moments of deep contemplation, albeit usually the day after.
Through my travels, I’ve been able to partake fully in such occasions, so to honour this golden God, I’ve put together a list of the Top Ten Best South American Beers you won’t want to miss if you happen to be travelling here in 2017.
DISCLAIMER (This list is not in order of my preference it is merely in the order that I tasted these brands!!)
Ask every young person in Peru what their preferred beer is and Pilsen is sure to get the most votes. This national beer originated from the city of Callao, and after going through many reinventions over a period of 100 years, its light flavour settled contentedly with Backus, one of the biggest beer companies in Peru, as well as in the happy bellies of young and old the country over.
Craft beer is starting to dominate the local beer scene in Peru. Many types of craft beer can be found with some bars being solely dedicated to the sale of this new breed of alcohol. Barbarian, started by three youngsters in 2009 out of sheer boredom, was designed specifically for this generation. Their varied flavours are fun and the different levels of IBU (International Bitterness Unit) decide the way your night will play out.
The love for artisanal beers is universal. In Colombia, the microbrewery that makes up the 3 Cordilleras Brand creates 6 different kinds of beer, including a rosé. Their aim is to make the best artisanal beer in Colombia and it looks like they are succeeding. The different flavours are a true representation of Colombia in all its flying colors.
Looking for something different to do one night? In Sabaneta (near Medellin) you can join a brewery tour and taste test the different beers Apóstol creates. This beer has mild, fruity flavours and also much more powerful flavours with their strongest ale reaching 6.3%. I liked this line of beers for the fun way it was presented and they paired finger food with each beer, so that easily won me over.
Dating back to its German roots, this beer is refined and redefined by the Kuntsmann family. The history of this beer is a beautiful tale of a loving father leaving everything behind and doing everything possible for the benefit of his love child, the Kuntsmann brewery. Their lagers, malts and stouts are now recognized as one of the leading brands in Chile and they’re definitely something you shouldn’t miss.
Beers starting in K seem to be the choice of beer in Chile. This award-winning beer boasts a wide range of brews. I’m not one for dark beer, but I found the American strong beer, the Kross 5, to be round in flavour with hints of wood and an aromatic vanilla scent, making for a great taste. This is a great choice, especially if you are a dark beer lover!
Surprisingly enough, Argentina is not only about their Malbec wine. When the cool autumn air starts to nip at you in Patagonia, and the breath-taking colours of fall make for a spectacular view, you know it’s time to pair it with a bottle of their renowned beer. The hop flavours of the wheat, amber and stout styles somehow bring people and nature together.
With its rock star presentation, this widespread, craft beer can be found all over Argentina. From its soft honey-flavoured beer to its 14% barley wine, this beer company founded in the 90’s, is packed with options that will keep you hostage in any one of their pubs. As a survivor of the pub in Mendoza, the combination of the ambiance, the people and the beer definitely made it a night to remember.
This light beer makes its way to the top of my list because it’s cheap, easy to drink and completely accessible. Aside from being the third best-selling beer in the world, if you are looking to take a break from the fancy, handcrafted beer this one is capable of bringing on a good time. It’s the kind of beer that is a no-brainer, and the kind that can be found in a Brazilian’s fridge to be enjoyed anywhere and everywhere, no formalities needed.
This handcrafted beer is among the best of its kind in Brazil – each of their four, famous beers have won several awards. They are made with English wheat and have some great, distinctive flavours that stick with you long enough to make it to your top list of beers, including their coffee-flavoured beer that won World’s Best Chocolate and Coffee Flavoured Beer Award of 2016. If that isn’t proof enough, then I don’t know what is.
Nicola King is an Australian journalist that is travelling the world in search of good food, nice people and the best stories.