I moved to Santiago, Chile in July 2015 with the goal of reproducing the gypsy brewing success I was able to achieve during five months living in Buenos Aires.
Moving from Buenos Aires to Santiago
Things were going well for Bushido Brewery in Buenos Aires, so continuing to brew there was tempting, but I wanted to make sure that success wasn’t a fluke. My plan was to live in Santiago for two months, and in that time I wanted to work with at least one local brewery to produce a collaboration beer. Bootstrapping my gypsy brewing from scratch in Santiago was a goal with many challenging aspects: new country, new culture, new city, and a much shorter timeline.
As soon as I knew my departure date from Buenos Aires, I got to work on Santiago. I started by researching craft beer in Chile. I read about Chilean brewing history and learned about the state of the craft beer scene in Santiago. I didn’t have any connections in Santiago and I didn’t expect anyone to know about me or have tried Bushido beer, so I wrote a short piece about the work I did in Buenos Aires to share with potential brewing partners, which I eventually published.
I made a list of all the craft breweries in and around Santiago, read more about each of them, and collected whatever contact information I could find online. I identified the breweries that seemed like good partnership candidates and drafted letters to them in English and Spanish.
Since I was planning to be in Chile for only a few months I knew I didn’t have time to wait and contact breweries after I arrived, so I sent the first round of introduction letters a few weeks before heading to Santiago. A few breweries didn’t reply, one wasn’t interested, some weren’t able to collaborate given the short timeline, and one brewery responded immediately with an enthusiastic interest in collaborating: Cerveza Loom in Bella Vista!
Loom is the local brewpub in Santiago. Boasting great burgers and fries, local beers, and a fun staff, Loom is an excellent place to hang out with friends in the hip neighborhood of Bella Vista.
Loom and I exchanged messages and made a plan to meet. I visited the brewpub the night I arrived in Santiago. There I met Jaime, the brewmaster and one of the founders of Loom, and JP, the brewer. We drank some beers and talked about collaboration ideas. At the end of the week I returned to Loom to help JP brew a beer and become familiar with their equipment.
Jaime and I talked beer style ideas and exchanged recipe drafts via email. We both wanted to do a strong dark beer that would play well to the type of water at the brewery, so we decided to do an Imperial Stout.
Jaime asked me to name the beer. We sought input from Loom’s followers on Facebook, and JP and I talked for a while about different themes from which to draw upon, including names from Chilean folklore. I decided to give the beer a name that would communicate something about the style and sound good in Spanish, English, and Japanese. I also wanted a Japanese name that would be easily pronounceable by the mostly Spanish-speaking clientele at Loom.
That’s where Noukoumizu (i.e. Agua Oscura in Spanish, Dark Water in English) came from!
Loom’s graphic designer created a logo for the beer release announcement and a Facebook event was made to promote the evening. The beer went on tap on a Friday night and friends and strangers came out to try it. Noukoumizu was well-received by everyone!
I succeeded in meeting my goal to gypsy brew in Santiago within two months. The collaboration with Loom was a success. Had I stayed in Santiago longer, for sure I would have wanted to brew with Jaime and JP again.
While living in Santiago, I continued to explore the local craft beer scene and reach out to other breweries to talk about collaborating. Once I was “on the ground” I found local breweries that I didn’t discover online before arriving. Some of those breweries would have been great partners and we would have brewed some kick-ass beers together if I had stayed longer.
However, that’s the end of this Chilean chapter, and it’s time for me to return to the United States. Where and when will Bushido Brewery brew again? Stay tuned to find out!
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