The history of craft beer in Mexico traces its history to before the Spanish conquest when the natives brewed fermented beverages with ingredients ranging from corn, cocoa beans to agave.
One of them is a drink called izquiate or tesgüino, which is brewed with corn. Then the Conquistadors introduced barley, which would eventually become the main ingredient in Mexican beer.
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Fast-forward to Mexico in the early 20th century when a combination of German cultural influence and prohibition in the United States brought a boom in beer production. Grupo Modelo--which brews Corona, Modelo and Pacifico--was formed in 1925. Between them and Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery (FEMSA)--which brews Dos Equis, Tecate and Sol--both companies control at least 90 percent of the beer market in Mexico. Because of the duopoly, growth is extremely difficult for craft brewers in Mexico. When someone mentions "Mexican cartels," the term certainly applies to breweries as well.
However, Mexican craft brewers are aware of the demand for their product and have made some progress in recent years. There are many craft breweries that exist throughout the country, although not as many as in the United States. Here is a list of Mexico's most interesting brews that we'd like to see on store shelves in South Florida.
Cerveceria Hacienda makes three beers all weighing in at 7 percent alcohol-by-volume: Hidalgo Stout, Jaguar Pale Ale and Catrina Red Ale. Started in 2007, Cerveceria Hacienda is a boutique brewery operating out of a converted Hacienda in the countryside outside of Pachuca, Mexico.
9. Consorcio Cervecero de Baja California
This Tijuana brewery is one of two microbreweries in the city and located a few miles south of the (in)famous Revolucion Boulevard. The brew six lagers and have a brewpub attached to the brewery: Tijuana Light (3.5 percent ABV), Bronca--a pilsner (4.9 percent ABV), Guera--a pale lager (4.8 percent ABV), Brava--a Dunkler Bock (5.9 percent ABV), Morena--an amber lager (4.5 percent ABV) and Bufadora--a Dopplebock (7.5 percent ABV). Here is a little video to watch about the TJ brewery, courtesy of It's Just A Life Story blog
Cerveceria launched their three-beer Tempus series in September of 2007: Inspiracion--an altbier (5.2 percent ABV), Golden Ale (4.3 percent ABV) and Imperial altbier (7 percent ABV), which one a bronze medal at the 2009 Australian International Beer Awards.
Based in Zapopan in the state of Jalisco, Cerveceria Minerva brews five beers: Colonial--a Kolsch (5 percent ABV), Viena--an amber lager (5 percent ABV), Stout Imperial (7 percent ABV), a pale ale (6 percent ABV) and Malverde--a pilsner (6 percent ABV).
Calavera is the Spanish word for skull, which is their logo. Started in 2009 and based in Tlalnepantla de Baz, their beers have consistently won several awards throughout the Mexican and United States beer festival circuit. Calavera brews several beers, but one of their highest rated is their Mexican imperial stout, which sits at 8.5 percent ABV.
Based in Mexico City, Cerveceria Jack brews eight beers, with four of them being fruit beers. But their stoutest is their chocolate stout, weighing in at 8.3 percent ABV.
Based in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Cerveceria LesNez brews seven ales for their Siete Barrios series: an amber, a brown, a blonde, a hefeweizen and a Belgian (all 5.1 percent ABV); and a chocolate Christmas ale (5.8 percent ABV).
Baja Brewing Company was started in 2007 in San Jose el Cabo by Colorado home-brewer Jordan Gardenhire, his father Charlie, Rob Kelly and David Hatfield. They brew several beers, but one of their most interesting is Baja Peyote Pale Ale (6.5 percent ABV).
Based in Mexicali, this cerveceria started bottling production in 2006. They make a many brew, but one of their more intriguing beers is their tequila barrel-aged barleywine weighing in at a hefty 10 percent ABV.
Instilled with a revolutionary spirit, Cerveceria Insurgente brews five ales that sticks pitchforks and sickles in the asses of Mexican beer cartels: a brown (5.5 percent ABV), La Lupulosa IPA (7.3 percent), Nocturna Black IPA, Saison Chouette (4.9 percent ABV) and Tiniebla witbier (5.3 percent ABV). Feliz Cinco de Mayo!