On Open Doors and Hoppy Beers


In last night’s crappy work dream, my English class burgeoned from 30 or so to 3,000 in a matter of minutes mixed between native speakers who wanted composition class and non-native near beginners. I suppose that’s called a nightmare. All I could do was try to take roll and divide people according to their ability, but the class kept growing. All the while I was late for my bartending job. What’s worse than a 70 hour per week semester? Dreaming about working while asleep.

In the real world, I  gave up one of my many jobs last week at one particular university here in Santiago upon completing the semester. They said the doors are open if I ever want to return, which I do appreciate. I’ve taken the “diversify your portfolio” advice quite seriously, and work between teaching Spanish, English, translating, editing, interpreting, transcribing and writing. Sometimes I feel like a word service machine. The problem I’ve discovered is my inability – or lack of desire – to teach adolescents who couldn’t give two shits about learning something. Of course, they’re not all like that, but serious motivational challenges abound. My cheerleading skills only go so far. I’m a pretty good teacher, but I’m an excellent tutor; I prefer one-on-one. If someone is motivated enough to seek out help on their own, they are much more likely to value their time, and mine, which makes me care a whole lot. We all get more out of it. That was a big lesson.

Aside from the pure joy of a break, I love this time of year because I go home and see my family and friends in the States. This winter hasn’t been too cold, but regardless. Summer in Chicago anyone? Wisconsin’s natural places? Wunderbar. Didn’t you mention beer, you ask? Great question. I have always been quite a fan of brewed beverages in most forms. Of all the places in South America, Chile has the widest variety of artisanal national beers and imports, but the Chilean palette doesn’t favor much the hopped variety. A few years ago, there were pretty much none, so I loved going home and getting my hands on a Lagunitas or one of any million microbrews battling about who could bring more hops. However, there are a number of nice offerings on the market here now.

Leyenda is a small cervercería built by a couple of friendly women. That wouldn’t be surprising elsewhere, but I think for Chile it’s remarkable to have women beer brewer/owners. My favorite beer by them is the IPA. This medium-bodied beer has a high alcohol content, with a decent amount of hops and a slight floral finish. It’s not overpowering, and you can have several quite easily. One of the best bars to get it at is Rubik. This link lists where else you can find their liquids. Speaking of Rubik, this is one of my favorite bars in the city. I occasional work there, too. (diversify!) Marcela is in the kitchen, making it one of the best night spots for bar food around. There is the front patio, back enclosed patio, primary bar area with actual bar stools, another section with booths and they just added another level upstairs. Ale and Aldo are the owners, and quite lovely, bilingual people. In fact, everyone that works there is very friendly and genuine. Aside from Leyenda on tap, they have a very large list of national and imported bottles. Unlike some of the disappointing establishments, Rubik actually has everything stocked, too.

Rothhammer is another excellent Chilean microbrewer producing unfiltered, bottle-conditioned beverages. I haven’t had all of their varieties yet because I usually go for the Brutal Hops. There’s nothing brutal about it. It’s a consistently good pick with the right amount of hops. Their Politik Kills Double Imperial Pilsner is excellent as well, if you’re looking for a lighter body with less bitterness. Anywhere you find Rothhammer in Chile, give it a try. You shan’t be disappointed.

Spoh, is a beer with a lame name of little fame, but of wonderful taste. It hasn’t been around for too long, but it will likely stick around for some time to come. They have several styles, but again, I’ve gone with the IPA every time. The owner of The Shamrock – a great Irish pub I’ve finally gotten a minute to investigate – tells me that the name of the beer originally was Hops, but after the brewcrew had printed up all their swag and such, CCU [the giant-est beer distributor in Chile] had apparently trademarked that word and sued the fledgling company, so they reordered the title to Spoh. Anyhow, look for the small South Andean Deer called the huemul on the bottle. That’s the one. This taste festival has a very light body, and is similar in style to a hopped weiss beer. Check out The Shamrock on a Friday for fish fry, grab a Spoh and you may get to hear live Irish music, too. Did I mention their prices are insanely fair? They offer a pretty good selection of whiskies, too. I do not happen to work there.


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