Chilean artisanal breweries have achieved significant brand recognition and become a key alternative to industrial beer products, with at least one artisanal brewery becoming a tourist destination.
“The artisanal beer market in Chile is very new as it has been around 10 to 12 years at the most,” Loreto Cruz, who is a co-owner of Cerveza Leyenda, which makes English-style beers, said. “Many new breweries are still starting and many are getting out of the business because it is hard. There are a certain number of brands, like ours, [though], that have become well-known.”
Part of what makes the artisanal brewery business difficult are the efforts by the industrial beer brands to capture markets with expensive marketing tactics, which can include offering tables and chairs to bars and restaurants. Even still, Cruz doesn't see industrial beers as being her competition.
“I believe we do not compete with industrial beers," Cruz said. "The artisanal beer is a totally different product, which is neither filtered nor pasteurized."
Instead, the success of artisanal brewers lies in their ability to play up the uniqueness of its product.
“A good artisanal beer is like a good wine," Cruz said. "You can have dinner with it just like with a wine whereas industrial beer is basically to quench a thirst."
When Cruz decided to leave a job as a secretary in the management area of a large company, she soon started Leyenda after she tasted artisanal beer during a family trip to Germany. Once she received training, Cruz was brewing with 20-liter equipment.
“After many friends tried it, we decided to investigate how the artisanal brewing market was in Chile and then decided to open up a shop,” she said.
Later, she upgraded to 150-liter equipment, and Leyenda began to be marketed.
“Since breweries are usually run by young men, a lot of the attention was put into the fact that we were women,” Cruz said.
Two years after the opening of the shop and obtaining new capital, the brewery equipment was upgraded to 300-liter capacity. Now, the company, which Cruz co-owns with Fabiola Lopez, actively participates in fairs, such as Oktoberfest festivals. The product portfolio of its ale-style beers includes five qualities for the bottled product and three for beer sold in barrels.
“My market is basically pubs, restaurants and people that buy here in the street," Cruz said. "My shop is well-located in the center of Santiago, and a tour company brings tourists here. Success always goes hand in hand with the human part of the business."