Kunstmann Brewery's story began 30 years ago, in 1991. Back then, the brewery's founder Armin Kunstmann wanted to return the joy of making beer to the city of Valdivia (Chile). Especially after a massive earthquake the year before its foundation ended with emblematic producers in the southern part of the country.
The brand carried out their first formulas in the Kunstmann family’s home kitchen, where the whole household helped with different tasks. After several trials, they managed to optimize the procedure until finally crafting their specialty: Kunstmann Lager. With this first success, the family installed a small plant in the Torobayo sector.
The brewery's social calling
Business Excellence had the opportunity to interview Armin Kunstmann and his second-generation son and general manager, Alejandro Kunstmann. They talked to us a bit more about the company's foundations, their present, and vision. "We are located in the south of the country. From there, we constantly work to be an engine of change and positive impact for the Los Ríos Region through different actions", mentioned Alejandro.
Some of those actions include:
-Carrying out alliances with local producers to boost the area's economy.
-Supporting public and private institutions to promote the development of entrepreneurship
-High-impact programs to reduce the ecological footprint
For Kunstmann Brewery, creating quality beers through responsible processes that don't impact the environment negatively are paramount. They are committed to the region's development. Plus, the region's richness, from abundant soft water to the Valdivian jungle's essence, is the company's inspiration.
"It is the affection and sense of responsibility with our hometown, Valdivia, that guides our sustainability actions. We work on a daily basis to contribute to the city, economically and environmentally", explains Mr. Kunstmann senior. The company is especially concerned about water care, considering that it is one of the ingredients of the secret formula. "The waters of this area are characterized by being the softest in the country and make Kunstmann a unique product," he goes on.
The brewery's interest in caring for water has led to an agreement in its final stages with the Centro de Humedales Río Cruces (Río Cruces Wetlands Center). In collaboration with them, Kunstmann Brewery will support the protection of these ecosystems in southern Chile through a mutual plan of action.
From Valdivia to the world
Kunstmann is a brewing family that's passionate about making specialty beers. "Even though the competition in Chile - and the region - is enormous, we do not compromise on quality," states its founder. "Our brewmasters are professionals trained in the best brewing schools in Europe. Each variety we offer is specially designed and analyzed for fans of craft beers. The ingredients used are also important. We favor the use of local ingredients, which enhance the area's economic development since our activity's focus is Valdivia".
Currently, Kunstmann Brewery leads the craft beer market in Chile, with 17 different specialties. "We want to have a specialty for each particular taste so that beer lovers can find a unique experience. This challenges us to constantly search and experiment, to offer new specialties and surprise in each of our new presentations", noted the youngest of the Kunstmann’s.
Bierfest Kunstmann, an event that has become a tradition
The company has been celebrating the largest beer festival in the south of Chile for 17 years, called Bierfest Kunstmann. Every year the festival brings together thousands of fans of craft specialties. "It's a unique event that we carry out in the Valdivian summer, which celebrates the German cultural roots and mobilizes the entire community," said Mr. Kunstmann senior. "We offer the best of experiences around Valdivia's craft culture, considered the beer capital of Chile and Latin America's pint rendezvous".
Currently, dozens of institutions benefit from this beer festival, such as the Firemen of Valdivia. This institution managed to build its headquarters due to fundraising from the event. Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, the Bierfest Kunstmann innovation team decided to go through with the event anyway, making it the first online Bierfest in the country. It's also an excellent opportunity for local folk groups to meet and promote their traditions through this celebration.
Consequences of the pandemic
Nonetheless, Mr. Kunstmann senior did express that the pandemic was a worldwide catastrophe that took them by surprise. "Our priority and concern is the safety and health of our collaborators," he explained. That's why the company had to formulate strict protocols that would minimize the risks of infection.
The brewery constantly promotes self-care in compliance with the internal and external measures dictated by health authorities. Some Government authorities' actions imply that the company's beer bars throughout the country have to close for unknown periods. But that hasn’t stopped this brewery from doing what they love. The pandemic forced the company to create their e-commerce, promoting not only beer varieties but also experiences.
"The Kunstmann consumer has chosen us over time because they enjoy the whole experience. We constantly seek to provide a brewing experience based on the quality of our various beers. We even like to share our brewing process, so people get to know which are the faces behind this family business, our collaborators", says Armin Kunstmann proudly.
Present and future
Kunstmann is the largest brewery with craft varieties in the Chilean market. They have 17 specialties to date, plus a line of experimental beers that change periodically, considering innovation and experimentation are in the company's DNA. All of those varieties are produced in their only factory located in Valdivia, south of Chile.
Peru, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Colombia, Bolivia, and Brazil are some of the countries the Kunstmann experience has arrived. Their workforce is made up of 182 collaborators who are crucial for the development of the brewery.
Regarding their long-term vision, the brewery seeks to strengthen its craft leadership in Chile. Their goal is to increase production volumes and market share. They also wish to continue being a benchmark in brewing innovation, both in processes, products, and experiences. "We also hope to consolidate our recognized specialty Kunstmann Torobayo as the icon beer of the craft movement in Chile and South America”, specified Alejandro Kunstmann. So, if you’re ever in South America and come across a Kunstmann beer, make sure to raise a glass in Kunstmann’s name.