When you are soaking up the heat and strong sunshine along the ocean, there is really no better accompaniment than a cold, crisp beer. But, at some point my body rebels and screams, “I just can’t drink one more damn Pacifico!” Last October, I wrote a story on a new brewery in Isla Mujeres, a short ferry ride from Cancun. Drinking craft beer (especially on an island) in Mexico made me positively giddy. This month I visited Baja California Sur and happily discovered that the craft beer industry is slowly gaining some ground in this part of Mexico as well.
We were actually able to try at least one craft beer in every town we visited. In Cabo San Lucas, we called on not one, but two breweries, both of which had some darn good beer. The first one, Baja Brewing Company, is owned by ex-pats from Colorado and even has two locations. One is a rooftop bar on top of a condo building, but we were not able to visit this location because they opened later in the day. We did, however, go to the main taproom conveniently located on the harbor. All the beers were decent to very good, and pretty true to style. The Peyote Pale Ale was especially refreshing in the Cabo heat.
Next, we ventured a few blocks off the beaten path and out of the main tourist area. We heard from a customer at Baja Brewing that there was another restaurant/brewery where they are making good beer. Cerveceria Ramuri is an artesanal, smaller-batch brewery with some styles that are harder to find south of the border, like saison and strong ale. Both of these beers were highly enjoyable.
In La Paz, we attempted to visit a very small craft brewery, but it was closed on Mondays, which was the only day we were there. The beer gods had our back, though, because as we were strolling along the ocean walkway, I spotted a convenience store with a tub of interesting-looking bottles sitting outside its door. The shopkeeper told us it was a brand-new beer made in La Paz that had only been on the market for two weeks. Unfortunately, my phone’s memory card decided to take a nose dive, so my picture of the bottle did not save, and I don’t remember the name of it. I can tell you that it was a hefeweizen, and it was a nice beer to drink while walking along the beach.
Loreto is a lovely fishing village located about 200 miles north of La Paz. It has a population of less than 20,000, but a sizable amount of Canadian and U.S. ex-pats live there. As this was the least touristy town on our journey, we did not expect to find our favorite craft beer of the trip in Loreto. However, that is exactly what happened. El Zopilote (Vulture) Brewing Company/1697 Mexican Food and Craft Beer currently brews only three types of beer — an IPA, a pale ale, and a stout. The IPA was a too little bitter, as well as hoppy, so it was not our favorite. The pale ale was fantastic. They were out of the El Bandito Black Stout on site, but we were able to try it on draft later in the day at another local hotel. The stout was solid, with both chocolate and coffee notes.
It was not our first visit to Los Muertos Brewing in Puerto Vallarta. This brewery is always a welcome stop, due to their low, low prices, and lunchtime pizza and beer combos. However, they suffer from a carbonation issue, and all the beers are a little thin. Trust me, though, after days of drinking all the Mexican macros, hanging out at Los Muertos is still a delightful experience. It’s also a cool place to people watch, because it is on a busy corner in Old Town, and the walls open up to let in the ocean breezes.
Our last beer stop in Mexico was a beautiful, large beer bar and restaurant on the malecon (esplanade), called Cerveceria Union. We enjoyed a fabulous lunch of totstadas de pulpo (octopus) and molcajete de pollo with a Minerva Pale Ale. (Readers, are you noticing a theme? Perhaps a distinct craving for some pronounced hops?) They have dozens of beers on tap, including a large selection of Mexican craft beers. Cerveceria Union is a definite must do for the beer lover in Puerto Vallarta.
Growlers are now readily available at many of the breweries in Mexico. For your next adventure in Baja, I suggest buying a growler or two and hiring a boat with a captain for a few hours so you can drink your craft beer while relaxing on the water and enjoying the incredible scenery.