A New Way to Experience Mexico: Craft Beers

I am just going to throw it out there — I am a big fan of beer. That sudsy, hoppy concoction — when done well — can compliment a great meal as well as any fine wine.

If you are the type of person who only drinks one brand of beer, than I have probably lost you already. I have several friends that think Bud Light is the only brew worth savoring. Hopefully, something you read in today’s post will inspire you to destroy your old beer paradigm and venture out into a brave new world of Mexican craft beers.

Yes, I underlined the word new in that last sentence. I want to point out that the craft beer market in Mexico only started to take off after July of 2013. Have I peaked your interest yet? Are you wondering what happened in 2013 to give rise to a new era of amazing artisanal beer creations?

A Little Background

Prior to the summer of 2013, the craft beer brewers in Mexico made up only 0.6% of the total beer market. That is a pretty low number when you consider that in the United States, craft brewers currently occupy 12% of the overall beer market.

If I ask someone to list all of the Mexican beers that they can think of, the standard names come out: Corona, Dos XX, Pacifico, Negra Modelo….and so on and so on. The one thing that all of the beers have in common is that they are all manufactured by one of the two beer giants in Mexico: Grupo Modelo or Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (Heineken).

These two companies have long had a stranglehold on the beer market in Mexico. They made it difficult for microbreweries to get a foothold because of their use of exclusivity contracts. If a restaurant, bar, or store wanted to sell any of these well known beers, they were required to sign a contract barring them from selling any other beers. This very effectively locked the microbreweries out of the market.

This all changed in the summer of 2013 when La Comisión Federal de Competencia severely limited the use of these contracts. This created an opening for craft brewers to start selling their creations in grocery stores, restaurants, and bars — and a new era was born. Since then, microbreweries have been popping up all over Mexico.

Getting Your Hands on Great Craft Beers

Since the craft beer market is still relatively small, it can be difficult to locate craft beers brewed outside of your regional area. This only leaves you with a couple of choices: 1) travel all around Mexico and visit every microbrewery, or 2) go to beer festivals.

I personally like the first option but that one can be a bit cost prohibitive since we are on a fixed income. That leaves us with the second option, beer festivals. Last weekend, we attended the Soy Cerveza beer festival in Puerto Morelos. We had an amazing time — at least what I can remember — and we plan on returning next year.


Soy Cerveza Beer Festival

The Soy Cerveza beer festival was a two day craft beer extravaganza that took place on the Malecón in Puerto Morelos. The entry fee was only $100 pesos ($5.40 USD) per person, and that price included two days of access and a free plastic cup with the festivals’s logo. Once inside, it was $20 ($1.08 USD) pesos to try a beer (about 3 ounces) or you could choose to buy the entire beer. There were about 200 domestic and foreign beers on hand.

The festival also had live music, craft beer presentations, food pairings and vendors selling delicious food (for an additional fee).


When going to a beer festival it is important to have a strategy. Mine is always to limit myself to only sampling new craft beers. I certainly did not drive all the way to the festival to just to sip a Corona.

There were so many new craft beers at the event that I was not physically able to try them all — but I did my best. Many craft beers have a higher alcohol content than commercially sold brands, so they can really sneak up on you.

That being said, it is always a good idea to take a cab to one of these events or to stay at a hotel nearby. We chose to stay about a block away from the event.


One That Stood Out

I sampled a lot of great craft beers during the event but one in particular stood out. It was a dry stout brewed by the Patito Brewery located in Mérida.

Normally, I would avoid drinking a dry stout on a hot summer’s day. A lager or a pilsner are better suited for the beach. Come to think of it, I have never seen anyone drinking a stout on the beach in my life. In spite of this glaring fact, I decided to at least sample it — and I was glad that I did.

The stout had a smooth flavor and was actually quite refreshing. I liked it so much that I drank an entire bottle of it before moving on to the next beer. In hindsight, this probably kept me from sampling as many beers as I would have liked to — but it was worth it.


Patito Dry Stout

Let’s Wrap This Up

If you are like me and you like to support small business here in Mexico, why not try a craft beer the next time you are at the bar or a store? You can help the “little guy” and experience a unique taste of Mexico at the same time.

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About the Author

Q-Roo Paul
Paul Kurtzweil (Q-Roo Paul) was a deputy sheriff in Florida for 25 years before retiring at the rank of lieutenant in 2015. He and his wife moved to Mexico looking to maximize their retirement income. In 2016, they started a blog called Two Expats Mexico (qroo.us) sharing their experiences, as well as information about the logistical and legal aspects of retiring south of the border. The blog has been viewed over two million times and the articles have been republished in numerous periodicals across Mexico.

13 Comments on "A New Way to Experience Mexico: Craft Beers"

  1. Charles Brown | July 19, 2016 at 9:39 am |

    A friend of mine, Jeffrey, started Carmen Beer in Playa del Carmen. He is from here in my hometown of Eighty Four, PA. You can see his name on the back of his red shirt in the first picture in your post. I plan on visiting his brewery in February. I hope you had a chance to sample Carmen Beer.

    • Qroo Paul | July 19, 2016 at 9:41 am |

      Small world. I did sample their beer and I liked one of them a lot. We actually purchased a few of their stickers.

      • Just before we left PDC for the summer, a friend of ours won a ‘beer party’ donated by Jeff and his wife. I do not know which beer was in the keg, but it was very smooth and light. When we get back, in November, I will be sure to buy some.

        Is the brewery still on the carretera by Sam’s Club?

        • Yes, the Carmen Beer Co. They have a nice selection of brews. I tried a few at the beer festival in Puerto Morelos.

  2. Bob Risheill | July 20, 2016 at 5:14 am |

    This is great news. I am a craft beer fanatic and my wife and I visit Mexico a couple times a year, usually Cozumel. I so miss my craft beer while in Mexico so it’s great to hear I will now have something new to look forward to. BTW, great blog, keep up the good work.

    • Qroo Paul | July 20, 2016 at 6:46 am |

      Thanks for reading the blog. I love craft beers, so I was excited to find them here in Mexico.

  3. Has anyone found a good IPA? Tried Tulum and Patito ales but they either have a sour taste or lack in hops. Went to grand opening of Carmen beer but the pale ale was 1 dimensional. Wondering where the IPAs are all hiding : D

  4. Amazing. They do a better job of beer festivals in Mexico than in the SE USA. The $1 (USD) for a three ounce taste is very reminiscent of the annual Oregon Brewers Festival in Portland. Makes a lot more sense that the “drinking events” in GA/FL, whey you pay a hefty fee for a few hours access and all you can drink (doesn’t exactly encourage tasting or responsible consumption). July must have been pretty warm, though – move the festival to January and it would be perfect!

  5. Hey there! I will be going down that way in a couple of weeks and will be visiting the Puerto Morelos area. Are there any decent breweries/specific craft beers there that our group should try out while we are there?

  6. say no more … you had me at craft beer … in Mexico? Orale…

  7. Hey Paul, did you get a chance to sample Isla Brewery when you went to Isla Mujeres? Another option for you!

Comments are closed.