Published On: Sun, Apr 24th, 2016

A beer drinker’s guide to the Yucatan Part 2: Craft beer on the Riviera Maya

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Craft beer blogger Jacopo Mazzeo recently visited the Riviera Maya and other parts of the Yucatan Peninsula. He writes that Mexico is one of the most underrated craft beer destinations in the world. Here is Part 2 of his two-part article.

Following Mérida, I spent a couple of days in Tulum, a small village in the south of the Quintana Roo state. Generally speaking, craft beer is not particularly popular there. Despite this, bottles of Cerveceria Tulum can be easily found in town. The brewery, based in Cancun, produces one beer only: an American Pale Ale with elegant floral and biscuity notes, light hoppy aroma and a medium body that makes it a very pleasant drink.

The northern part of the Quintana Roo state benefits from a much higher interest towards craft beer when compared to the south. The town ofPlaya del Carmen, for instance, has been a top tourist destination for years. As a consequence, good craft beer is much easier to find there. The local Club de la Cerveza is probably the best pub I visited on my trip around the Yucatán peninsula: knowledgeable staff, good storage standards and service. I could find a wide range of styles on the menu; I tried an Irish Stout on draught (from local brewery Carmen, very refreshing), a Dunkelweizen(Bocanegra, Monterrey, Nuevo León), and a more popular Dia de los Muertos IPA (Cervecería Mexicana – owned by Grupo Modelo – Tecate, Baja California). I certainly enjoyed the Stout and the IPA, while the Dunkelweizen, thick and sweet, was perhaps not the best choice given the unbearable heat that day.

Regrettably, I could not visit the Cicerone, a further craft beer bar just a couple of minutes walking from the Club.

On the other hand, I found the time to try something different instead. La PerlaRestaurant is likely the only place in the area to serve Pulque. Pulque is a traditional Mexican brew, made from agave sap. It’s viscous, milky-white, of low alcohol content and quite sweet. It recalls a very light white wine. Pulque isn’t particularly common in the south, but in central Mexico it’s been produced for millennia. Although today it’s experiencing a sort of revival, I was surprised to find it in Playa del Carmen, but I’m really pleased I got the chance to taste it.

Puerto Morelos is a small town north of Playa del Carmen, conveniently located at 30 minutes by coach from Cancun Airport. If a resort-town like Playa is not your cup of tea, and prefer to spend your time on the Riviera in a more tranquil environment, then you should definitely opt for Puerto Morelos. The town is geographically split into two areas: one facing the sea and one about 2 miles inland, separated by thick vegetation.

In the inland bit, just next to the coach station, there’s a remarkable craft beer bar called Micheladas del Semaforo. The bar is named after ‘michelada’, which is a very popular Mexican cocktail. Not one I would necessarily recommend, but if you’re a mixologist looking for inspiration…well, then it’s something you can really sink your teeth into. A michelada is made with beer (traditionally a pale lager), lime juice, plus selected sauces, spices, and ice. It’s usually served in a salt-rimmed glass, just like a margarita. At Micheladas del semaforo one may order a michelada made with any of the craft beers on the menu!

That beer menu is indeed noteworthy. It features a good amount of international beers, but the focus is certainly on Mexican brews, which are even sorted by geographical area. On my visit to the pub I first went for a big name: Colonial Clara by Minerva (Tijuana, Baja California). A very clean kölsch, with graceful honey notes. Minerva is arguably one of the biggest names of the Mexican craft brewing scene; six-packs of Minerva beer are easily found at supermarkets.

For the sake of consistency, I remained on the ‘German’ track and tried a remarkable interpretation of a maibock: Bufadora by Cervecería Tijuana (now owned by Grupo Modelo, Tijuana, Baja California). Cervecería Tijuana is only one of the former craft breweries that were recently bought out by Grupo Modelo.

Buying-out is becoming an issue in Mexico as much as it already is in the US or the UK.  Despite this, Mexicancerveza artesanal is in a remarkably good shape, getting better year after year. The country is experiencing an exponential growth in number of microbreweries and hopefully local and federal governments will soon undertake serious reforms in order to help the Mexican microbrewing industry to thrive. Once this will be sorted, I’m expecting to see more and more Mexican quality beer exported to the US and Europe.

By Jacopo Mazzeo for TYT

Jacopo Mazzeo is a beer sommelier and blogger who writes regularly about international beer-drinking trends on beerwithoutfrontiers.com.

Mexico Travel Care

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