Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Coming Soon!

Sorry for the lack of posting as of late. In a few days I will begin conducting my first "tour" of Mexican craft beers for a home brewer and beer aficionado from D.C., which will provide me with a lot of new material for the blog.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Calavera Dubbel

Calavera Dubbel de Abadía (Abbey Ale)


3 out of 5

This Belgian dubbel by Calavera is slightly better than their Tripel or their Witbier. The beer is a copper color and has a nice spicy flavor of typical Belgian-style beers. The problem with this beer, and also the witbier, is that it is way too carbonated. The insane levels of carbonation in the beer make it very difficult to taste anything distinct in it. I would like to say more about the beer, since I do like it better than the other attempts at Belgian ales by Calavera, but the cringe-inducing carbonation makes that almost impossible.

I purchased this 750ml bottle for 90 pesos at Liverpool. You can also find this beer at La Belga in either the 330ml or 750ml version.

Tempus Doble Malta

Tempus Imperial Altbier


3 out of 5

Tempus is brewed by Primus, based out of Tlalnepantla, Estado de México. Their doble malta is a slightly dark, golden color with strong malt and caramel flavors. It is also light-bodied and fairly easy to drink.

This Doble Malta and other Tempus beers are available just about anywhere that serves cervezas artesanales in the city. You can find it on draft at Zazá, La Nacional (next door to La Belga), and Makena. In the bottle, you can drink this at Al Andar, Lucille's, and El Deposito. You can also buy this for takeout at La Belga, El Deposito, and The Beer Box.

Cerveza Toro

Toro Golden Ale


4 out of 5

I was very pleasantly surprised when I tried this bottle-conditioned ale from Querétaro. The flavor is fairly unique and extremely refreshing. It pours fairly cloudy, like a hefeweizen. The beer itself has a nice mix of malt, vanilla and apricot flavors. If someone was trying to sell me a beer that tasted like that, I'd probably say no thanks, but I really did like this beer.

This particular bottle was enjoyed at Makena for 55 pesos. I have not seen it for sale at my usual places to buy beer, but according to the Toro website, it is available at The Beer Company and The Beer Box. Last time I was at a Beer Box, they didn't have this beer. I still haven't had the chance to check out the Beer Company, but I will soon and hope to report back with good news.

Ocozol Azafrán

Ocozol Saffron Ale

??? %ABV

2 out of 5

A very light golden ale with a slight flavor of saffron at the beginning, which then disappears. In fact, besides the initial taste of saffron, this beer has almost no taste at all. Very bland. The idea of putting saffron in the beer is interesting and there is the potential that this beer could get better if the brewer works on the recipe more, but as it stands, this beer is disappointing.

I have only had one other beer by Ocozol, a porter made with black pepper. That beer was also pretty underwhelming.

This 10oz glass of saffron ale was purchased at Makena for 45 pesos.

Azteca IPA

Azteca IPA


2 out of 5

This beer really should not be called an IPA. Slightly hoppy and bitter, but by far one of the worst IPA's I've ever had. The beer itself is too light bodied and the hop flavor is just too weak.

On its own, this beer is still very drinkable and not unpleasant, but it is very disappointing as far as IPAs go.

I had this 10oz glass at Makena for 45 pesos.

Makena Pub

 Makena is a great little pub located in the heart of Condesa. They carry several different craft beers on tap, plus a decent selection of bottled beers. They also have a full bar if your friends don't like beer, plus a small selection of appetizers if you get hungry.

There are two floors to this small place. The upstairs is small and isolated, just a small set of tables. Downstairs is where the bar is, with a small tv, several tables, and a few couches if you feel like lounging. When I was there it was a pretty relaxed atmosphere, but I can imagine that at night on the weekends it gets very packed very quickly. I wish the music here was better, at least it wasn't too loud and I could drown it out. They had MTV videos on the television on mute, while playing some mediocre rock and dance music in the background.
On tap, you can get beers here by Ocozol, Azteca, Cosaco, and Tempus. The Ocozol beers are brewed by the owner of the pub, and as far as I know, are only available here at Makena and at El Deposito. On this particular visit, they had on tap the Ocozol Azafrán (Saffron Ale), the Azteca IPA, the Azteca Manzana Ale, the blond, red and porter by Cosaco (stay away from these beers!), and I think just the Tempus clásica (which is not very good). For bottles, besides the standard selection of commercial Mexican beers, they had various styles of beer from Calavera, Tempus, Toro, and some imported German beers.

The prices were fairly typical, you can order the beer on tap in a caña (about 10oz) for 45 pesos, or in a pint for 60 pesos. The one bottle of Toro I had was 55 pesos.

Makena is located at Tamaulipas 56 in Condesa. It is equidistant from the Metro stops Juanacatlan, Patriotismo, and Chilpancingo, so look at the map and figure out from where you want to walk. It is also fairly close to the Campeche metrobus stop on Linea 1. If you exit there, walk north on Insurgentes one block, turn right on Michoacan, follow Michoacan through Parque México, then turn right on Tamaulipas.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

YouTube Channel

I have created a YouTube channel where I will be featuring some of the harder to find music I come across. There is some music up there not yet linked on the blog, but I hope to correct that in the near future. A link to the channel is also available on the left-hand side of the blog.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Simpatico Beer

Simpatico Pilsner (?)


3 out of 5

I had never seen or heard of this beer the other day when I went to The Beer Box looking for some new beers to try. The beer itself is a very light golden beer, I think it is a pilsner. Since there is basically no information about this beer online, or on the bottle, I can't be one hundred percent sure. It doesn't have much flavor at all, just a small hint of malt. It isn't a particularly bad beer if you are just looking for a simple light refreshing beer, but there isn't a whole lot that really draws me to it.

Simpatico is made by Cervercería Mexicana, based out of Tecate, Baja California. It seems this beer was first made back in the 1980s, and then disappeared from the market? I don't really know the story, but there is an interesting facebook page of people from all over the world looking for this beer. It seems it has a bit of a cult following which makes sense in comparison to other standard Mexican lagers, but compared to the recent crop of craft brews, Simpatico isn't really all that special.

You can buy this beer for 29 pesos at the Beer Box.

Baja Blond

Baja Brewing Company Cream Ale


4 out 5

This cream ale made by Baja Brewing Company out of Baja California Sur is an excellent light, crisp ale which would be perfect for sitting outside on a hot day, or on the beach somewhere. Cream ales are supposed to be very similar to lagers, and that is exactly what it tastes like to me, a high quality lager. Just a hint of maltiness and very refreshing.

Unfortunately I have had a hard time finding this beer, and finally broke down and spent 50 pesos for a single bottle at The Beer Box. Their Baja Red is only 33 pesos at La Belga, so I'm not sure why this particular beer was so expensive, but Beer Box prices are some of the highest I've seen in the city. Because of the price, I probably won't be drinking this beer often (or ever), but it is a really good example of light, refreshing beer.

UPDATE June 16, 2011: I just saw this at La Belga, so pick it up there for cheaper.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Calavera Witbier

Calavera Belgian Style White Ale


2 out of 5

Calavera's witbier is pretty mediocre. I think I would prefer a Blue Moon over this, and I don't even really like Blue Moon. It is slightly sour, and extremely bland. On the plus side, it is easy to drink so it isn't actually an unpleasant beer, just not a very good example of a witbier.

I purchased this particular bottle at a Liverpool near the Obrero Mundial metrobus stop on Linea 3 for 33 pesos. You can also get this beer at La Belga and El Deposito (near Metro/Metrobus Patriotismo). Occasionally you can find this beer on tap at Zazá.

Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout

Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout


3 out of 5

This is a decent stout by Calavera, although calling it an imperial stout is a bit of a stretch. It is made with chile so I was hoping for a little bit more of a unique flavor, but I couldn't even tell there was chile in it. The flavor overall falls a little flat, and the weak body leaves something to be desired.

You can get this beer at La Belga for 40 pesos in the 330ml version, or ~100-120 pesos for the 750ml version (I can't remember the exact price right now).

Calavera Tripel

Calavera Tripel de Abadía (Abbey Ale)


2 out of 5

This beer by Calavera (Tlalnepantla, Estado de México) was pretty disappointing. The beer itself is a deep golden belgian style ale with absolutely no head and very lightly carbonated (even though on the bottle it says the head is "dense and creamy"). You can tell they are trying to imitate belgian style ales with the spicy aroma and flavor, but the overwhelming flavor of this beer is just alcohol. You also get the alcohol flavor in the nose and the finish. Not very pleasant at all. On my first few drinks, I thought it even tasted a little salty. I have never had a beer that I thought tasted salty before. Calavera needs to spend more time on their beer recipes and less on their bottle designs. Maybe if I hadn't been sampling a bunch of real Belgian beers recently I'd be a little more kind, but this beer is an extremely poor substitute.

The beer itself is also pretty expensive, 40 pesos for this 330ml bottle, so I doubt I will be trying this again. It is also available in a 750ml bottle for ~100 pesos.

You can get this beer at La Belga and El Deposito (near Metro/Metrobus Patriotismo).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

The Beer Factory

A view from outside the Beer Factory in Mundo E.
 I hadn't been to the Beer Factory in a long time, but after spending a lot of time sampling some of the newer microbrews available in the city, I thought I should make another trip up to the Beer Factory to see how they compared. The one I went to is located in the Mall Mundo E in Tlalnepantla, just outside of Mexico City. The mall itself is pretty horrible with a fake main street facade and fake sky painted on the ceiling like a nightmarish version of a shopping mall from Las Vegas. The horrendous atmosphere does not disappear upon entering the Beer Factory. The place is giant, reminiscent of chain restaurants like TGI Fridays or Chilis but with slightly more of a sports bar feel. They have giant television screens and loud obnoxious music to make me despise the place even more.

One of the fermentation tanks you can see inside the restaurant.

A sampler of their cervezas exóticas.

What makes the place worse is that they offer what are called cervezas exóticas. I know Mexicans have a tendency to desecrate beer by putting lime, salt, tabasco, clamato and whatever else they can think of in their beer, but its mostly forgivable since it is usually mixed in with beer that is undrinkable on its own. However, these concoctions of their Mediterranean Light Ale mixed in with fruit juices are absolutely horrendous. On this particular sampler were coconut beer, mango beer, cranberry beer, tamarind beer, strawberries and cream beer, and passion fruit beer. I would have a hard time telling the difference between these and a sampler of Boing! if I was doing a blind taste test. Despite being absolutely terrible, I would guess fully half of the people in the Beer Factory were drinking these beers. The coconut beer seemed particularly popular. Mexican craft brewers have a long way to go. 0 out of 5 for all of their cervezas exóticas.

A sampler of their cervezas artesanales.
 Now, the real beer that they do have at the Beer Factory. Despite all the problems with this place, their beers are not that bad. On this sampler is their Mediterranean Light Ale (4%ABV), their Coronel Pilsner (5.2%ABV), their Coyote Pale Ale (4.8%ABV), their Santa Fe Vienna Lager (5.6%ABV), their Luna Llena Stout (6.0%ABV), and a seasonal beer, which they called "Summer Beer"(8.0%ABV).  The vienna lager was probably the worst of the six, since I only had a few sips it is hard to say whether or not I would prefer this over a Negra Modelo or a Bohemia Oscura. Probably not. It gets a 1 out of 5. The pilsner was drinkable but nothing special, 2 out of 5. I'm not really sure what to think of the Summer Beer, it was slightly sour and malty, but light and easy to drink. If I go back anytime soon I'll have a full glass, but the jury's still out on that one.
Coyote Pale Ale
 The Coyote Pale Ale is probably their best beer in my opinion, but it is not great. It is an English style pale ale, and I'm slightly biased towards American pale ales, but the Coyote still have a good amount of hop flavor. It is just a little bit too light for my tastes when it comes to pale ales. Somewhat similar in taste to the Minerva Pale Ale, and nowhere near as good as the Cucapá Chupacabras Pale Ale. I give it a 3 out of 5.
Luna Llena Stout
 The Luna Llena Stout is also a decent attempt at a stout, although it is pretty light and bland. I prefer full-bodied, robust stouts and the Luna Llena does not deliver there. It has a nice roasted malt flavor, but is really lacking in any hints of chocolate or coffee. This beer is similar in style to the Sierra Nevada Stout which is decent, but not a stout I would drink when there are other options. This beer gets a 3 out of 5.

Mediterránea Light Ale
I didn't actually drink this beer, I just tried some of it, but it is pretty self explanatory. Tastes like a light beer with just a hint of hops. Better than your typical Mexican lager, but nowhere near as good as the Pale Ale or the Stout. However, I would much prefer to drink this if I was sitting on a hot beach somewhere. Sadly, I don't think that will be happening anytime soon. 2 out of 5.

The Beer Factory is also a restaurant. The only thing I had there were french fries (not recommended) and their cheesecake. They make a mean cheesecake, one of the best I've had in the city. They also make neapolitan style pizzas which look pretty tasty from what I saw at other tables. Next time I will be trying their pizza.

You can order their beers in a number of different sizes. The samplers of 6 beers are around 65 pesos. Any of their craft brews can be ordered in 300ml glasses for 53 pesos, 500ml glasses for 69 pesos, or 1L glasses for 131 pesos. You can also order giant tubes of beer at your table, that come with a frozen core and your own tap. Not sure how much those cost, but they seem to be popular. Two guys sitting next to us ordered two of them, not sure if they had to spend the night at the mall or not. The fruit drinks that supposedly have beer in them cost a little bit more than their real beers. Not only are the fruity beers downright wretched, they are more expensive. Why would anyone order these?

The Beer Factory has several locations around the Metropolitan area, just check out their website. However, most of these locations are not particularly convenient if you are located near the center of the D.F. The Mundo E location is not particularly easy to get to, but it is the one I know how to find. Probably the easiest way to get there is to get off at the Rosario metro stop on the orange line and grab a cab to Mundo E. Every cab driver in that area should know how to get there. You can also catch a bus from Rosario, which is what I do. If you ask around, someone should tell you which bus to take to Mundo E. The mall is not close, so expect to be on the bus for a while.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Interface - Dictadura

 This LP by Interface, a Mexican electronic band, was a recent find at Bop!. I had never heard of the band before finding the record, but I was intrigued by the cover, and the owner of Bop! was gracious enough to play it for me. Musically it is similar to early Front 242 and other early electronic/industrial bands on Wax Trax! Records. Dictadura is their second LP, released in 1989. Their first LP, Autómata, was released in 1984 and was a little more upbeat than the darker Dictadura. Both LPs are nearly impossible to find, and there is virtually no information about this band on the internet. I know I'll be keeping my eyes pealed for their first LP now.

Track listing:
1. Un pueblo, una nación, un líder
2. Psicosis de traición
3. El mundo se vino abajo
4. Arrullo de barraca
5. Sabotage express
6. No
7. Cabaret sprovieri
8. Héroes desechables

You can also check out a sample of music from their first album here.

More information about Bop! Libros y Discos here.

Revolution Records

Of all the places to shop for used records in Mexico City, Revolution Records has to be my least favorite. They have a pretty large selection of common rock, latin, disco, jazz, and miscellaneous records. Their prices are decent, and so is the condition of many of their albums, but I rarely find anything worth buying at this place. Occasionally I'll stop here and find something worth picking up, but if you are looking for records in Mexico that you won't find anywhere else, then I definitely recommend checking out Discos de Ayer, Bop!, and ABC Discos before coming here.

Revolution Records also seems to be the place where old music guys just come and hang out. I never see anyone buy anything here, but there are always several guys just hanging out, talking about music and other things.

Revolution Records is located at Insurgentes 395 in Condesa, right on the corner of Insurgentes and Campeche. The google maps link is off by a block, but it will get you there. The store is right in front of the Metrobus stop Campeche, or you can get off at Metro Chilpancingo and walk north on Insurgentes a few blocks.

ABC Discos

 ABC Discos is another impossible to find used record store located just two blocks from the Zocalo in the Centro Histórico.  They have a large selection of mostly common rock and pop from the 50s to the 80s, and smaller selections of jazz, international, and latin. The one thing this store seems to specialize in is old Mexican garage rock from bands like Los Teen Tops, Los Hooligans, Los Rockin' Devils, Los Crazy Boys, Los..., etc. You can find a lot of very cheap vinyl copies of records from these types of bands, mostly later reissues, but also some original presses. Most of these garage bands are just glorified cover bands, since very few of them wrote original music, but it is sometimes fun to hear how they translated into Spanish and covered hit songs of the 50s and 60s from the U.S. and the U.K.
 The other noteworthy thing about this shop is their selection of CD reissues of mostly old Orfeon material from groups like Semanforash, Javier Batiz, Toncho Pilatos, La fachada de piedra, Love Army, and other Mexican classic rock, psych, punk, jazz, and ska from the 60s to the early 80s. These cd reissues are not very easy to find, and this is the one place besides El Chopo where I know I can find these discs.  They also have a small selection of metal cds, and some music dvds.

ABC Discos is located at Venustiano Carranza 67, between the streets Isabel la Católica and 5 de febrero. The picture on your left is what you will see when you arrive at the address. To the left of the Nutrisa is the Comercial VC, one of those long corridors common in the Centro with a number of vendors lining either side. Just walk in and go all the way to the end of the corridor, and ABC Discos will be on your right side, Local 02. They are open Monday through Saturday 11:30am-7pm.

The closest metro stop is the Zocalo stop.

Friday, June 10, 2011


I was looking for a new place to have a beer and ran across a German restaurant in Condesa called "Frankfurt." They have a large selection of Belgian, German, Russian, and UK bottled beers, some bottled varieties of Sam Adams, and regular Mexican clara y oscura on tap. They had most of the Belgian beers I blogged about previously, including everything from St. Bernardus. I was hoping they would have more Mexican craft brews, although they did have a few bottles of Jack Beer. Not a great place, but if you are dying for some German food while in Mexico City and a decent beer to go with it, then it might be worth checking out. 

Frankfurt is located at Tamaulipas 136. According to some comments on this site, you shouldn't use your credit card here. They will steal your number.

Al Andar Restuarante y Mescalería

Al Andar is a very small little restaurant located in the Centro Histórico that has a decent selection of Mexican cervezas artesanales and mezcal. On my visit, they had the Guera, Morena and Bufadora by TJ Beer, Cucapá's Green Card Barley Wine, all the Tempus beers, Jack's Chocolate Stout, all the standard Mexican beers made by the two major companies, Carlsberg and Tsing-tao.

Their menu was pretty eclectic, lots of fish dishes, vegetarian options, tacos, quesadillas, salads, sandwiches, etc. And, what mescalería would be complete without some chapulines on the menu? If you are looking to drink beer/mezcal and munch on some grasshoppers but don't want to head to Oaxaca, then this is the place to go.

Al Andar is located at Regina 56, a pedestrian mall just south of the Zocalo between the streets Isabel La Católica and 5 de febrero. Please note that the linked map is not exactly accurate, google maps places it about 3 blocks east of where Al Andar is actually located, but it will get you into the right vicinity. The closest metro stop is Isabel la Católica, but you can walk to Al Andar from any other location in the area of the Zocalo.

La Belga

La Belga is my favorite place to purchase Mexican craft beers. It is a tiny little place, just a small room packed with bottles lining both sides of the store, but they have a great selection. You can find just about any beer made by TJ Beer, Minerva, Cucapá, Tempus, Baja Brewing Company, 7 Barrios, Calavera, and several other Mexican craft brews depending on availability. They also carry a large selection of beers from Belgium (duh), Germany, and the UK, plus a few others from other countries. Unfortunately, their selection of American beers is pretty limited, just a few types of beer from Butte Creek, Eel River, and Samuel Adams.

The major reason I go here over other places (i.e. The Beer Box and El Deposito) is that the prices are slightly cheaper. Since good beer is not exactly cheap in Mexico, saving a few pesos on every bottle adds up quickly. The staff is also quite friendly and very knowledgeable about the beers they carry.

Check out their website for hours, contact info, and pictures of some of the beers they carry. They also have a small fridge in case you want to purchase a cold beer. While you can't sit down and drink beer at La Belga, you can go next door to La Nacional to enjoy several different Mexican craft brews by the bottle or on tap.

La Belga and La Nacional are both located near the corner of Orizaba and Querétaro in Colonia Roma. La Belga is actually on Querétaro, while La Nacional sits on the corner.

Getting to La Belga: Metrobus - Linea 1, Sonora stop; or Linea 3, Hospital General stop. Metro - Hospital General. (You'll need a map to walk from these stops to La Belga).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

LPs at the Balderas Street Market

 The stalls on Balderas are one of my favorite places to go for records. It is possible to find just about anything here, and since they don't have to pay the overhead of keeping a store open, the prices are very cheap. It is possible to find anything from the most common junk for 10-20 pesos a record, lots of decent albums in the 40-100 peso range, and several rare records anywhere from 200-800 pesos.
 The condition of the LPs at most of the stalls is surprisingly good. While most people here who deal in records don't do much to protect the jackets, most of the vinyl I have bothered to look at and purchase at these stalls ranges from VG+ to NM.
 The genres of music you will find here is also pretty eclectic. The large majority of the records are classic rock, pop, and jazz, but you will also find a lot of latin music, classical, prog, blues, the occasional metal LP, and lots of other international records.
 On this particular day that I took the pictures, there were four different stalls to check out, sometimes there are more, sometimes less. Most of the sellers here are open Monday through Saturday from about 1pm to about 7pm, but don't show up right at 1pm and expect to find everything set up. It is usually better to go around 4 or 5pm, and you will find more people selling on Fridays and Saturdays than earlier in the week.

I picked up these three records on this trip to the street market, I'll get up some more of my finds from there at a later date. Testament's Souls of Black and Depeche Mode's Violator are both Mexican presses. I was extremely surprised to find an original Tomato press of Townes Van Zandt's Flyin' Shoes. This record is definitely one of my better finds here.

The Balderas Street Market (I just made up the name, not sure what else to call it) is located on Balderas in the Centro Histórico, between the streets Juarez and Artículo 123. The best way to get there is get off at Metro/Metrobus Juarez and walk north on Balderas, or exit Metrobus Hidalgo and walk south on Balderas. The record shop Discos de Ayer is also right across the street from these stalls.

UPDATE June 16, 2011: If you keep walking south on Balderas (on the west side of the street) all the way down to the Balderas Metrobus station, you will find a few more record stalls. I hadn't visited these stalls before, but it doesn't not seem like I was missing much. The stalls closer to Hidalgo Metrobus stop have a much more interesting selection.

Belgian Beers

Here is a random selection of Belgian beers that I have laying around the house. Belgian beers are relatively easy to find in Mexico City. I'm not exactly sure why, but it is much easier to find a large assortment of beers from Belgium than just about any beer from the U.S. While I don't think I have had a Belgian beer I truly disliked, it is a rare occasion that I will buy one here in Mexico because they are so expensive. Individual bottles usually range in price from 40-60 pesos. The only reason I have so many pictured here is Superama was having a clearance sale on their imported beers for 25 pesos/bottle.

I do not plan on reviewing individual imported brews, but if I was going to recommend one of the 12 pictured here, I would suggest the St. Bernardus Wit, the best wheat beer I've had in a long time.

You can find these and other Belgian beers for sale at La Belga, El Deposito, The Beer Box and occasionally at large supermarkets.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tijuana Bufadora Premium Lager

TJ Beer Bufadora Maibock/Helles Bock


3 out of 5

TJ Beer considers this a Maibock, a style I am not particularly familiar with, but I was expecting a strong lager and that is more or less what this beer is. It is light and easy to drink, which is slightly dangerous with the high alcohol content. This golden-colored lager is slightly sweet with a hint of caramel. While this is a good beer, my main problem with this beer is that I don't particularly care to drink beers with such a high ABV that aren't ales. I like lagers on hot days, on the beach, or when I want to have several beers at a time, but this particular beer doesn't really work for that. Their Tijuana Guera is probably better suited to my tastes for lagers, but don't let that scare you away from the Bufadora. It is a good beer, I just do not see myself drinking this very often.

The Bufadora is available at La Belga for 28 pesos/bottle.

Getting to La Belga: Metrobus - Linea 1, Sonora stop; or Linea 3, Hospital General stop. Metro - Hospital General. (You'll need a map to walk from these stops to La Belga).

Monday, June 6, 2011

Bar Zazá

 Zazá is my favorite place to go and have a few cervezas artesanales in the city. They only serve beer on draft, and there is usually something new to try every time I visit. On most visits, you can count on them having Cosaco and Tempus on tap. Cosaco produces an Amber Ale (la guera), a Red Ale (la roja), and a porter (la oscura). Personally, I think Cosaco beers are very mediocre, although certainly better than a Corona. If I have to drink Cosaco, I'll drink the guera, and the porter is passable. Stay away from the roja at all costs. For Tempus, they have the clasica and the doble malta. All Tempus beers are very malty, and the doble malta is a pretty decent beer with strong malt and caramel flavors. The clasica (or dorada? I'm not sure) is pretty bad though, almost sour, I do not recommend it. If you happen to be with someone else with bad taste in beer, they also have one of the major beer brands on tap, I think Sol but I could be wrong. It doesn't really matter what it is though, trying to differentiate among the variations of clara or oscura of any major brand of Mexican beer is a near impossible task.

In addition to Cosaco and Tempus, Zazá usually has beers by Calavera and Azteca on tap, though they often run out and the particular styles they have change often. I highly recommend trying whatever they have by either of these breweries. On my last visit, I sampled the Azteca Manzana Ale and the Imperial Stout, both excellent beers. On the menu, they also list a stout by the Beer Factory, but they have never had this available on my many visits to Zazá within the last year. All the microbrews on draft cost 55 pesos.

Not only is this a great place to drink, Zazá also makes pretty incredible brick oven pizzas. One of the biggest problems with most pizzas in the city is the crust, but Zazá gets the crust just right. Their medium pizzas run about 100-140 pesos and are probably enough for two people, unless you are like me and can eat an entire pizza no matter what size it is. They also have other appetizers and entrees, but I haven't had anything else there except the french fries. If you are looking for a slightly more upscale place to eat before or after having drinks at Zazá, you can also check out Casa D'Italia and Vecchio Forno, which are just a couple blocks from Zazá.

As far as the atmosphere goes, Zazá is extremely laid back and informal, which is just the kind of place I like. They usually have music playing, but it is never too loud like a lot of establishments, and it is usually an eclectic of mix of jazz, garage rock, classic rock, soul, ska, and punk. My only gripe is that while the music they play is usually pretty good, it just sounds like someone put their ipod on shuffle, somewhat ruining the ambience of the place. The staff is fairly friendly, although usually completely unknowledgeable about the beer. Make sure you ask several times what beers they have until they actually go check. Since Zazá is pretty far out of the way compared to most other places in Condesa, there isn't much else around and fortunately this means there are very few ambulantes passing by annoying the customers.

Zazá is located at Pachuca 1, right on the corner of Pachuca and Veracruz, just a few blocks from the Chapultepec Metro stop.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Baja Red

Baja Brewing Company Red Ale


5 out of 5

Baja Brewing Company is based out of Baja California Sur and was formed in 2007 by several Americans from Colorado (at least that is the story I get from their website). This particular beer, the Baja Red, is a phenomenal Red Ale. Even though the bottle says "ale ambar" this beer is much more full-bodied and full of flavor than amber ales I am familiar with. The only other Baja beer I have had was their oscura especial, which was extremely mediocre. Nevertheless, I look forward to trying some of their other beers if I can find them.

I like a good red ale, but in my experience, they are few and far between. The only other Mexican breweries I know of that make a red ale are Cosaco, with their cerveza roja, and Hacienda Pueblilla, with their Catrina red ale. The Cosaco red ale is atrocious, probably one of the worst beers I have ever had, and while I have not tried the Catrina, I am not a big fan of the other beers made by Hacienda Pueblilla out of Hidalgo (i.e. their pale ale and stout).

I picked up this bottle for 33 pesos at La Belga.

Getting to La Belga: Metrobus - Linea 1, Sonora stop; or Linea 3, Hospital General stop. Metro - Hospital General. (You'll need a map to walk from these stops to La Belga).

Cucapá Honey

Cucapá Honey Amber Ale


4 out of 5

I am pleasantly surprised at how good this beer tastes. For months I have been avoiding this beer because I thought the honey would make it sweet (I really prefer bitter beers). While Cucapá is my favorite Mexican brewery, I know they make some duds (i.e. their Oscura). I was completely wrong on this one. The first thing I noticed was the hops in the nose, not too overpowering but certainly enough for me to notice. There is a faint hint of honey in the nose, but upon tasting the honey almost completely disappears. Only in the finish did I get a small taste of the honey, mixed in with some malts. This beer is very drinkable and if you are looking for a light beer with lots of flavor, you would be hard pressed to find something better in Mexico. It is a toss up over whether I prefer this Honey Ale or Cucapá's Clasica Blonde Ale when I want something light but tasty. Looks like I'll need to do a side by side comparison in the future!

Get this for takeout at El Deposito, La Belga (for 27 pesos), or The Beer Box. Drink it at La Nacional (for 55 pesos) or El Deposito.

Getting to El Deposito: Metro/Metrobus Patriotismo.
Getting to La Belga: Metrobus - Linea 1, Sonora stop; or Linea 3, Hospital General stop. Metro - Hospital General. (You'll need a map to walk from these stops to La Belga).
Getting to La Nacional: Right next door to La Belga, on the corner of Orizaba and Querétaro.

Some history about Mexican microbrews

The growth of microbrews, or cervezas artesanales, in Mexico is fairly recent. These beers are notoriously difficult to find, fairly expensive, and the brewers face an uphill battle against the monopolistic practices of the two major breweries in the country that produce most of the garbage that passes for beer here. There are a few English language articles that get into some of the background behind the microbrewers that are worth checking out, one from the LA Times, and another from AP.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Cerveza Perro Negro

There is a brand new Cervecería out of Guadalajara named Perro Negro. Right now they have a porter that seems to only be available locally in Guadalajara. Hopefully they branch out soon and get a few of their bottles to Mexico City. You can read more about the new brewery here (in Spanish).

As soon as I can get my hands on a bottle, I will give it a review.