After spending almost 2 years travelling around South America, we’ve experienced quite an array of natural wonders, incredible beaches, booming cities and perhaps most importantly, excellent craft beers. Welcome to the list of Best Craft Breweries in South America! Spanning a variety of countries, each brand that has made the list offers a combination of great beer as well as something a little unique versus your typical craft brewery.
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To avoid the near impossible task of ranking them, you’ll find these best craft breweries of South America listed alphabetically. Now, without further ado, let’s get onto the beer…
3 Cordilleras is a craft brewery based in Medellín, Colombia. They opened their doors in 2008 after its founder’s longstanding passion for beer reached new heights following a move to Atlanta in 1996. After working at a leading craft brewery for many years, he returned to Colombia with the aim of creating great craft beer from his homeland. And boy, did he do a good job. The brand name comes from the fact that the Andes splits into three ‘branches’ as it spans up through Colombia, with the 3 mountain peaks forming a part of the logo and visual identity of the beers.
The brewery offers 5 varieties: a wheat ale, a sweet stout, an American Pale Ale, an Amber Ale and a Rosé. What I love about 3 Cordilleras is that in many supermarkets you can find them in 3-packs with random selections of their beers – allowing you to try out the different beers they offer, without having to fork out for a full pack of each. Not only are the beers great – the ‘Mestiza’ APA above all – but its central location in Medellín means you can also easily do brewery tours, which include plenty of beers on your way round and even live music on the Friday tours.
Recommended: The Mestiza APA and Mulata Amber Ale.
Argentina is a great source of craft breweries in South America, and the first we’ll mention is Antares, which originates from Mar del Plata, a few hundred kilometres south of Buenos Aires. Though it is certainly one of the more widespread craft breweries in South America, with brewpubs found across cities such as Buenos Aires, Mendoza and Córdoba. They can even be found in the likes of the US, Brazil, Canada and Uruguay.
Antares made this list because not only do they offer a selection of delicious beers such as Pale Ales, Honey beers, Lagers, Stouts, and a particularly punchy Barley Wine, but the brewpubs (especially the ones we visited in Buenos Aires and Mendoza) are definitely worth a visit. They always have a great vibe and offer good food to enjoy alongside your preferred tipple.
Recommended: Kolsch, Pale Ale or Barley Wine
In the cool and gritty city of Valparaíso, you’ll find Casa Cervecera Altamira. It’s located right at the foot of the Ascensor Reina Victoria, a glorious yet ancient funicular to take you to one of the city’s best viewpoints. Beer aside for a minute, this is a must-visit in Valparaíso – and there’s a great treat waiting for you when you are back down. With a great story linking back to an Irish immigrant, Andrés Blest, founder of the first ever brewery in Latin America following independence from the Spanish, Altamira still uses the exact same ingredients to produce its beer – to the point of aligning the calcium level in the water to that of Blest’s time.
On top of such a rich story and history to the brand, Altamira is also one of the most modern and progressive craft brewpubs, with a wide selection of beer cocktails on the menu. Far greater than a pint with a drop of flavouring and a swirly straw, the beer cocktails here were unlike anything I’ve seen before. Expertly blended cocktails using beer instead of other ingredients commonly found to bring a contemporary (and beer-fuelled) edge to their Pale Ale Martini, Cappuccino Stout, Beergarita, Beerinha and other quirky drinks.
Recommended: Pale Ale Martini
Bogota Beer Company
Not the BBC as you might know it, but Bogotá Beer Company certainly has the same level of reach when it comes to the Colombian capital. Not only does the brand have some great beers, named after parts of Bogotá and it surrounding areas, but what is especially cool about BBC is the sheer number of outlets they have. From the cosy and intimate ‘BBC Bodegas’ to larger pub-style beer gardens and even food truck courtyards, you can barely walk a few blocks around the city without bumping into one of their outlets.
This is not a common thing for beer brands, especially in the craft beer world. Such presence serves as constant advertising for their brand. They’ve taken a completely different look at beer in Colombia and tackled three very distinctive occasions with their range of different outlets and really placed themselves as almost synonymous with the capital. The city is as ingrained in their brand as they are in the city.
Recommended: Septimazo IPA
One of a great many craft breweries in South America to come out of the Chilean and Argentinian Patagonia region. German immigration has shaped the beer industry in this part of the world, with breweries going back as far as the 1850s when Anwandter Brewery was set up, seeking to replicate the style of their national beers back home. After the destruction of the brewery in a catastrophic earthquake in 1960, the Kunstmann Ramos family dreamed of creating a new brewery in its place. Since selling their first lager in 1991, the Kunstmann brewery has grown rapidly, spreading across the nation, to other countries and with a range of micro-breweries and outlets popping up. Oh, and they also run their own Bierfest!
Recommended: Lager, Bock and some of their special varieties.
Another huge craft brewery from Patagonia, this Argentinian jewel is easy to find pretty much anywhere across the country, so much so that their beers have almost become mainstream to the levels of the big lager brands in Argentina and Uruguay. They even have bars spread more widely across South America.
There is no greater place to visit them, however, than in the stunning region of Patagonia itself. Beer made using locally-produced hops and glacial melt-water, heading to the home of Patagonia Brewery is a great place to sit back, take in the spectacular views and enjoy some top-quality beer from one of the best craft breweries in South America.
Recommended: 24.7 Session IPA
The list above really sums up the strength of the market for craft breweries in South America, specifically in Chile, Argentina and Colombia – with several others definitely worth trying if you get the chance, such as Rothhammer, one of Chile’s finest and most exported craft breweries. This doesn’t mean, however, that good craft beer can’t be found in other countries in the region. Ecuador has some great beers from the likes of Latitud Cero and Quiteña, Peru similarly has a handful of emerging breweries in the craft scene, and if you find yourself in Bolivia you’ll have plenty of flavour exploration in the beers there – whilst not strictly craft sometimes, be sure to try Quinoa beer, El Inca bi-cervecina and some of the whacky flavours such as cactus, coca leaf or chilli!
Anything we’ve missed? Let me know if you’ve found any great craft breweries in South America that give you a little something different and are deserving of a place on this list!
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