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This Chilean Brewery Makes Beer from Desert Fog

In a region water is scarce, beer doesn’t seem like the most obvious business choice, but for a brewery in Chile, it’s working.

Cerverceria Atrapaniebla is a family-owned brewery in the town of Peña Blanca in the Atacama Desert of Chile, an area which is one of the driest places on Earth . Brothers Miguel and Marco Carcuro, however, have found a way to make two styles of beer with an unusual process: by using fog water.

While rain and standing water is rare, a fog called camanchaca is abundant in the Atacama. The brothers have taken advantage of nets researchers use to collect water for residents and, in turn, use that water to make fog beer. The nets are giant screens with tight mesh to collect the condensed water, which drifts into the continent from the Pacific Ocean. The water is collected in its purest form, free of minerals and contaminants, making for an ideal base to start brewing beer.

Special nets gather sea fog to condense into water for beer.

Atrapaniebla, the name of the brewery is extremely appropriate then, since in Spanish it means “fog catcher.”

They don’t make much beer at Atrapaniebla, though, with production maxxing out at approximately 24,000 liters. But that’s understandable, given the origins and the process of obtaining the water. The beer is sold throughout the South American nation and has won multiple awards. Unfortunately, with a lack of natural resources, it’s unlikely the beer will become a global success.

Atrapaniebla currently makes two fog beers: a brown ale and a Scottish ale.

The Scottish ale is a “Beer of medium complexity where several layers appear, in the first they emphasize mainly the sweetness of the malt and slight touches of caramel, if we go deeper we will find saline and fresh notes of a soft toast, well integrated and of low intensity,” Atrapaniebla’s website reads. The brewery suggests pairing the beer with white meat fish and fresh fruit.

The brown ale is a touch darker, with nuttier, maltier notes and can stand up to more substantial food flavors like beef or lamb.

Chile has made waves with its beautiful wines, but Atrapaniebla, judging it only by its water along, certainly makes some of the most unique beer in the world. And we can’t wait to get to Chile to try it out.

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Pat Evans
Pat Evans is a writer based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, focusing on food and beer, spirits, business, and sports. His full…
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