My First Workaway: Working in an Artisanal Brewery in Chile

StefanoBudget travel, Chile, Stories Comments

Working in an Artisanal Brewery in Chile

Yay! How are you guys? I just finished my first Workaway here in Chile. It has been an amazing experience. I have been working in an artisanal brewery in Chile. Precisely in Villa Cerro Castillo, Northern Patagonia. Below an idea on how it looks like:

The view from the brewery

The view from the brewery

How did I find it? Easy question. Go to Workaway, a volunteering website, and scroll and scroll and scroll and scroll until you find something you like.

I decided for a brewery because it sounded like fun. Furthermore, learning how to make beer might always come in handy.

For whom do not know what Workaway is: a volunteering website where a lot of hosts will offer you food and board in exchange for few hours a day of work.

Mario & Root, the owners of this little brewery (the plant has a capacity of 3000 L/month) are nice people.

The tasks were different: we had to mill the grains, clean the boiling pots and the fermenters, clean the barrels and the bottles, fill them and put the label on.

Grinding the wheat

Grinding the wheat

The atmosphere was quite good. We had breakfast altogether, we usually worked side by side (the brewery is in the house!) and we had a lot of fun – and a lot of beers as well.

I must say that I partly changed my previous idea of volunteering. Besides the fact we use to think that volunteering involves some activity with kids or old people, or the construction of a water well somewhere in Africa…I imagined just the good part of it, actually. Wrongly, I came here expecting beer tasting all days and to mix some strange substances in order to make the perfect foamy concoction. No way – this was a big mistake of mine.

Working in a brewery means hard work, dirty hands, and a lot of cleaning. Barrels are pretty heavy when full, and I didn’t manage to shake them to mix them with carbon dioxide gas for more than two and a half minutes. My fellow Alessio, an Italian well-traveled guy randomly met here (I mean, I’m in a pueblo of fewer than 500 people in Chilean Patagonia, approx.13000 km from Italy, and well, I found an Italian working in the same house of mine. It’s really true we are everywhere), has been much stronger with a record of like 6 barrels in a row. Not bad.

I had time to do a couple of trekkings as well. With Alessio, we explored the riverside of the Rio Ibanez and walked up to the Lagoon at the foot of the Cerro Castillo. Amazing hike and amazing view at the end, sipping a home-made beer!

In the free time, I read a lot: Vagabonding by Rolf Plotts, in particular, has made me think a lot. It has been written in 2003, 14 years ago. And it sounds so fresh. The advice he gives on how to be a vagabond, and not a tourist, are (old but) gold. Still, it’s incredible how people try to find new ways of traveling. In a travel world where we can have free food dumpster diving, free accommodation couchsurfing, and free transport hitchhiking, I think we couldn’t go further but there’s always a guy who makes something new – and better. I really suggest this read to everyone who loves traveling frugally and the unexpected.

Next adventure: Hiking Torres del Paine with a couple of friends!

Talk you soon!

Stefano