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.
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.