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Monday, April 18, 2011

Craft Brewing Migrates South to Mexico

Ken Ellingwood had a fantastic article in yesterday's Los Angeles Times about a new wave of craft breweries in Mexico. It seems like a natural fit--Mexico has long had a great beer-drinking culture, and back in the dark days of hyper-consolidation in the US, Mexican beer was often the best and most diverse variety on supermarket shelves.
Mostly self-taught, the Mexican brewers have launched an array of offerings, from Belgian-style wheat beers and imperial stouts to an ale aged in tequila barrels. They want to translate a hobby into commercial success in a country that is increasingly quick to embrace foreign trends, from smartphones to designer coffee.

"There's a niche. People are looking for something different," said Jaime Andreu, commercial director of the Primus Brewery and spokesman for the Mexican microbrewers association, which has 16 members.
There is a problem, though: consolidation left Mexico with two brewing giants, and they have all the legal and institutional power to quash the upstarts.
The newcomers say the vast majority of restaurants and bars in Mexico are off-limits because the establishments have agreements to buy only from one of the two giants, Grupo Modelo or Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma, in exchange for equipment and discounts.
The little breweries have a few cards to play, but I won't spoil the ending. Go read the article--it's fascinating stuff.


  1. Wouldn't 'migrates' imply that craft brewing had _moved_ from here to there? As far as I know (may need to double check this afternoon) our craft breweries are still in place. ;-)

  2. I think my syntax is on relatively solid footing, but an editor might have suggested "craft brewing movement." Sadly, I have no editor...

  3. Sounds a lot like Brazil: brewing giants have exclusive rights at most bars and restaurants...

  4. Sounds like here as well. Brewpubs are the key weapon in breaking the duopoly.

  5. I just visited a brewpub in San Jose Del Cabo: Baja Brewing. It was really cool to have some craft beer after a week straight of light Mexican cervezas. It's a cool establishment, but the beers themselves could use a little work. Some issues with diacetyl and other minor off-flavors, but overall a good experience.

  6. I was wondering how a brew-pub would do in Baja when I was down their a few months ago. I don't see why one wouldn't work in one of the many "Americanized" tourists spots. Of course I don't think imperial stouts, and oak aged beers will thrive. But I could see a number of session brews, reds, ipas, pales, browns, etc... working.

  7. What I find troubling is that they're not developing their own craft beer scene so much as importing ours. While it's great to see people in other countries doing rifs on American, Belgian, and English ales there's no actual unique brewing culture developing. The reason this worries me is that it creates a future homoginized beerscape where various cultures make creative versions of the same styles. Nothing truly new or unique.

  8. Mexico should, do what I understand Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria to have done during his rule of Mexico [1863 - 1867], bring in German brewmeisters.

    According to the Slate article of 02 March 2011, 'Brauereisterben; Germany's beer culture is in decline' [] Germany trained brewmeisters are available for relocation.