24 Mar Texas Craft Beer in Mexico – Beer4Mex
Texas Craft Beer in Mexico – Beer4Mex
Texas craft beer in Mexico isn’t really a thing. Yet. Raul and Natan are aiming to completely change that by giving Texas craft beer makers a leg up in the Mexican market with their grassroots approach.
The Beginning of Texas Craft Beer in Mexico
Corona, Dos Equis, Modelo, all have strong followings here in Texas. Why can’t some of our strong Texas breweries have strong followings in Mexico, too? The connection between Mexico and Texas is so closely bound throughout history that not having Texas beer in Mexico almost sounds silly.
Raul and Natan of Beer4Mex aren’t laughing, though. They’ve made it their personal goal to get Texas craft beer in Mexico, and they’ve already had some great success. A few of our team members and contributors have roots in Mexico, so when we were given the opportunity to ask these two some questions, we didn’t hesitate!
Natan Vazquez and Raul Jimenez met in elementary school in the southeastern state of Tabasco (yeah, like the sauce) in Mexico. After graduating college, their pursuit of careers in the oil and gas industry took them to opposite ends of the globe.
Natan explains, “But… Beer brought us back [together] in 2019! And with an abundant flow of beers and burgers at Petrol Station, we started to talk good stuff. Before heading home, we stopped at Brash Brewing to have our stouts, and after a couple of Cortados there, we (began to) regret not having these fantastic places and beers in Mexico. That is how we started solving the amazing puzzle to bridge Texas and Mexico for good independent craft beer with good social and community potential.”
They really got the ball rolling in November 2020, when they approached several players in the Texas beer scene.
It seems like there are many other countries with burgeoning craft beer scenes. Why Mexico?
Raul: In the words of Guillermo del Toro, naturally because we are Mexicans. See, the Mexican craft beer scene has been developing at a steady pace and in the past 2 to 4 years, new breweries, craft beers, and online shops have captured an audience that wanted to try beers different to what macro breweries are offering. But the reason that triggered our interest in Mexico, is that we can naturally distinguish the good [beers] from the USA and the benefit we could bring to our community. At the end of the day, Texas State map has the Mexico border imprinted on it. That is such an inspiring motivation, isn’t it?
Mexican Lagers are one of my favorite styles of beer. I’ve been telling brewers to make more of them since the beginning of 2018, and it only took 3 years for everybody in Houston to start catching on. Do craft beer drinkers in Mexico give a crap about Mexican Lagers? Why or why not?
Natan: well, when I visit Mexican taprooms and other craft beer places, the trend is to cater IPA, NEIPA and Stouts lovers, but this has a B side and allow me to extend my explanation….I imagine you have noticed, the way we drink beer in Mexico is different from anywhere in the world. Don’t get surprised to see the coolers packed in Mazatlan or people in a wedding in Oaxaca or Guadalajara with loads of cases piled up for guests to toast the just married. Then, look around and you will have no choice but to try our lagers in all sorts of Micheladas, with either celery, prawns, sauces, ice… in Beer4mex we are naturally building something parallel with no precedents but we have to admit we are intrinsically born with the thirst of our Mexican lagers and I hardly see this divorce in craft beer drinkers, and this connect to your point…it’s perhaps a North American trend: we need more well-constructed quality Mexican lagers in USA also!
Baa Baa Brewhouse was the first to take a shot with y’all. Marcus and Kinga are potentially two of our favorite people in the industry. They were the first people to sit and chat with us for an interview when we had like 13 followers and very little else – hell, the other beer writers in town wouldn’t even give us the time of day! What do you think it is about them that makes them roll the dice on people like us?
Natan: Marcus and Kinga are incredible human beings, very kind, generous and look after their community and people around them. They have a certain magnetism and with no doubt, they noticed something special in BC or B4M as we all started from the ground level. But if there is something we admire is the persistence of the brewery. Baa Baa Brewhouse has taken by surprise the entire state, and I bet I can say further and that comes with [great] responsibility. Convincing a community of their capability requires not only talent but time and we mirrored this patience on the way: we saw how the beer was brewed, we put brick by brick on the relation, we made a map of our plan, then one day we were sending Baa Baa Brewhouse to Mexico. Like you say, we found we love Texan beer, and the voice needs to be louder.
Raul: We want to head into Spring with LiveOak (taking a shot here with their lagers in the Mexican market), repeat Baa Baa Brewhouse, SpindleTap, and hopefully by then, Equal Parts. In general, we have some other good names on the radar, but there is nothing solid yet, and like we say in Mexico, “del plato a la boca, se cae la sopa”…..believe us, we are working every day on creating a model that works for all. The Texan community, breweries, and local Mexican scene.
Who do you wish was next, but isn’t? (Yet). And what makes you think their beer will sell well in Mexico?
Natan: People in México ask about Jester King and if we are going to bring some beers down. We have been visiting the farm since 2014 and my wife fell in love with sours and farmhouse beers because of them. This brewery is very close to our hearts and its number one in our wish list. Contact was made but we need to follow up on that. Their beer will sell because the customers in México are looking for new beers and the quality they produce is undeniable.
We have been talking to PHP for several months now and we hope that now that they opened their new facility we could get some Electric Jellyfish. We have been visiting PHP for about 4 to 5 years now, that is the place where we eat right after arriving in Austin, every time the experience has been amazing. Their beers and can art are amazing, we have taken samples of hazy and stouts and all the feedback is positive and we get asked how soon we can get this beer to México.
Overall, we want to see the popularity of Texan beer rise. Every single brewery in Texas has created a great community and spirit, and definitely besides PHP and Jester King, we would like to bring to Mexico names like Real Ale, Turning Point, Brash, Celestial, Zilker, and Eureka Heights among others. We are on our way to convincing Mexicans that Texas is a state with an amazing beer culture like no one else in the world.
Talk to me about the Mexican consumer. How are they different from American craft beer drinkers? How are they similar?
Raul: Let’s first start with a clear statement: we consume American [culture] in [large] quantities!!! Since I was a child I remember hours spent on any given Sunday watching Joe Montana’s San Francisco 49ers vs Dan Marino’s Miami Dolphins, or a lunch with friends at the local McDonald’s or simply listening to the King of Pop’s latest release, “Beat It”.
With the above, notice that we have a gap between what is available in the US and Mexico. In a sense we are caught in a time bubble from 10 years ago. In México you can hear people referring to great American craft beer and mentioning Sierra Nevada, Stone, Founders, and Great Divide which to some extent are available in Mexico. If you ask them about Imprint, RAR, The Veil, Weldwerks, The Alchemist, they don’t know who those breweries are.
This mirrors perhaps a great movement in America’s styles availability. Just now, Mexican breweries, bars, and bottle shops started migrating their cellars to include [things like] sour IPAs, White Stouts, Fruited Sours, NEIPAs and the Mexican community is leaning more towards these “new” styles.
Josh’s family is from Mexico, and he has family there still. My mother was born in Mexico City, and although we’ve all emigrated, I still visit from time to time for vacation. Next time we go back, what are a few spots we have to hit up for a beer and why?
Natan: Mexico City is today a cosmopolitan city with access to all kind of services and styles, so I wouldn’t miss the following spots:
Cerveza en Punto – is very likely the best bottle shop in México City, they also have taps with an excellent selection of local and imported kegs, perfect for gauging what is going on in the country.
Doble Malta – awesome selection of local and imported craft beer, kegs, bottles, and cans.
Drunkendog – 40 taps with local and some imported kegs, wide selection of bottles and cans.
Taberna Calacas – Rock, local and imported craft beer, Mexican comfort food (mini trompo) and local bar atmosphere. They share their spot with 2 local breweries Sinestesia and La Revoltosa, and they have their offerings on tap all the time.
Yeccan – This was home for me during the time I lived in México City from 2018 to 2020. Food is delicious, they have their own beers on tap as well as others from local breweries, cans and bottles available as well.
We haven’t finished yet! If your visit is a little bit longer and you want to head out the city buzz, visit the blooming Queretaro – 3 hours from México City, but worth visiting since they are well known for their production of wines and nowadays beer. In Cerveza Hercules you will find all that you need.
Cerveceria Hercules is one of the big players in México, Josh Brengle (former production manager in Cigar City Brewing) joined the brewery in 2017 and together with the team in Hercules has been producing great ales and not giving into the hype yet. Cerveceria Hercules has one of the best taprooms I have ever visited. They have the best food I have ever eaten in a taproom as well. You need to check out the link for Jardin Hercules, they are developing a barrel-aged program and their first offerings, Debut and Triple Castigo are doing great in a country where most customers have not drunk a wild beer ever before.
Where do you see Beer4Mex in 5 years?
Raul: A big part of our work is to discuss the way we want this project to evolve. Our priority is to ensure Texan craft beer is a household name in the neighboring country while preserving the value of the breweries. That will probably take around 3 years. Then that will take us to the next level which is to be the best reference when it comes to bringing US craft beer in Mexico, and we are taking fundamental steps to achieve that goal. We will focus on American beer, our communities, and our customers at all times.
What would you say to any brewery on the fence about putting their product in the hands of beer drinkers in Mexico?
Natan: Mexican beer drinkers are getting sophisticated in principle, and we are helping in this transformation.
Mexico’s budding craft beer scene is a bit ahead of its industry, or the demand is ahead of the supply. Much like we’ve seen in the Gulf Coast with the haze craze, sometimes it takes beer from far away to ignite new creativity in the market. Natan and Raul are unique in their grassroots approach, and we expect to see more and more Texan craft beers next time we visit South of the border.
Beers to you, Houston.