Mexico has long been known for excellent beer. The first commercial brewery was set up near Mexico city back in 1543 by a guy named Alfonso de Herrero. Fast forward until much later when Mexico went through a major expansion of beer production after the 1910 revolution with more than 30 companies producing fine pilsners (e.g. Corona, Pacifico & Modelo Especial) and Vienna style dark beers (e.g. Negra Modelo & Dos Equis Ambar). Well, here we are in 2014 and Mexican beer, while still good, is 90% owned by just two companies, one of which is half owned by Anheuser Busch of the U.S.A.
The other 10% includes some up and coming micro breweries which produce some good beers that – at least here in Mexico City – cost “un ojo de la cara”. That’s like saying it cost “an arm and a leg” for you gringos. The few times we’ve visited restaurants that served these beers we were shell shocked when we got the bill as it seemed even more expensive than similar places you’d find in major U.S. cities. Not only that, many upper end restaurants here seem to be more “hat than cattle” as they say in Texas. While second class restaurants here generally churn out super good food and commercial brew at reasonable prices, the upper end seems more likely to leave you gastronomically dissatisfied and much lighter in the wallet. So far, the Mexican microbrews we’ve had have been super expensive and while some are quite good, they’ve generally not quite been up to the same quality standards that we are used to with the great U.S. microbrews.
Luckily, I met some really nice guys here that have started a brew club and are brewing some dynamite “all grain” beers. They’ve given me the encouragement to get back into brewing after a 17 year hiatus. Claudia and I made several batches of “extract” brew back in Seattle before we moved to Mississippi. There, the brew equipment sat in a dark corner for all those years until we were packing for the move to Mexico City. I thought “why not throw this stuff is in since we’re not doing anything with it here?” So we did. Yesterday, Nick & Pete helped me get one 5 gallon batch of Dead Ringer IPA in the fermenter and it is cooking away. While that ferments, we’ll have about a month to locate some additional brewing equipment and maybe a kegerator (I hate bottling beer) for dispensing the brew.
We are looking forward to brewing many more batches while here in Mexico. Just like we’ve always found with our home-made products (salsa, tomato sauce, pesto, etc.) back home, we’re hoping we’ll find that our home brew will be better than most of what people are selling out there. Cheaper? We’ll see about that. We’ll enjoy the process in any case and many thanks to Nick & Pete for all of their help in getting us re-started.