Epic mountains, delectable steak, Malbec wine…Patagonia is famous for all of these things, but beer? I had no clue, but this mountainous pocket of southern Argentina is brimming with top-notch craft beer.
I arrived in Bariloche, a charming city nestled in northern Patagonia at the foothills of the Andes and on the southern shore of the glimmering cobalt blue Nahuel Huapi Lake. This place is stunning. It reminds me of Lake Tahoe in California, but I dare say more majestic.
I came here to get some nature on, but unknowingly came to a hub of phenomenal microbreweries and bustling little nightlife. It makes sense, with the heavy Swiss and German influence visible in the architecture and copious chocolate shops, that scrumptious beer would find its way here too.
On the weekends during the summer season from December to February, just up the hill from the main square, traffic is blocked off and tables are brought out and stages are set up. Live music fills the evening hours of late setting sun and crowds gather to take in the sounds and partake of the cascading tap beer.
There are some really great eateries and close to a dozen bars within a block radius in the center of Bariloche that offer tremendous Happy Hour specials. Two beautiful pints for $40 Argentine pesos (less than $4 US) is a steal.
At a dangerously close stumbling distance to where I was staying, there was a bar named Konna with exceptional beer. Offered on tap is a choice of three beers: rubia (blonde), roja (red), or negra (stout). Konna’s brewery is on the outskirts of town and their brand of brews can only be purchased at this locale, and at Refugio Frey. Frey is a four-hour steep hike into the mountains, where brawny excursionists leg up kegs in backpacks for campers and overnighters.
I fell in love with the roja. I’ve never been one to veer towards amber ales but something about this red called my name like a smooth talking vixen. Like Christina Hendricks dressed in lederhosen chatting me up in Argentine Spanish. Konna’s roja has subtle complexities of toasty malts and is well rounded. It is also infused with a clean mineral aspect that is characteristic of all the beers in Bariloche. It must have something to do with brewing with glacial lake water.
Konna’s stout is also appetizing. A raven colored velvety number, full-flavored and lighter bodied than its dark complexion might imply. My other favorite regional brew houses were Bachmann and Berlina.
Down the main road along the lake there are a handful of breweries offer beer tasting with a gorgeous view. Bariloche is to beer what Mendoza is to wine in Argentina.
The craft beer scene exploded in Bariloche about 10 years ago, and yet few of these local delights have made it into bottles or to export.
But for now, the beer taps flow where Patagonian winds blow, and I consider myself fortunate to have discovered this little slice of brewski paradise.
Annie is a freelance journalist doing an around the world trip for the year of 2015. She has worked in restaurants from Athens, Georgia to Ischia, Italy, from New York City to Cornwall, England. From serving, to being a cook, baker, bartender, barista and manager, she’s experienced food and drink from every angle.