Sunday, August 28, 2011

A couple great articles on Mexican craft beer (in Spanish)

There are a couple new articles up at that are really well written actually engage in some much needed criticism. The first is a review of the recent beer festival in San Miguel de Allende and includes some reviews of newer microbreweries. The second is a critique on the quality of some of the craft brews and the way some restaurants/shops/bars treat beer, leading to some pretty awful experiences. If you read Spanish, I highly recommend checking them out. My own personal perception if the craft beer movement in Mexico is that there is very little criticism of the quality of the beers being produced. There needs to be some more honesty if craft beer is going to grow here, so those who are interested in trying a cerveza artesanal are not turned off by tasting a poor-quality or poorly-treated beer.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The lack of posting

My work is taking over my life right now, so I haven't had a lot of time to update the blog. I'll try to post when I can, and hopefully I'll get back to a more regular blogging schedule in a few weeks.

Purple Hand Honey Ale

Purple Hand Honey Ale

1 out of 5


This beer is really boring. If there was a blind taste test between a Bohemia Clásica and this, it would be hard to tell the difference. It basically tastes like one of the better commercial lagers. It is supposed to be a honey ale, but the flavor of honey is so unnoticeable.

This beer is also fairly expensive. I bought it a long time ago at the Beer Box for something like 45 pesos if I remember correctly.

Cerveza Homero Hefeweizen

Cerveza Homero Hefeweizen

4 out of 5


When I first moved to Mexico City I was able to easily find the fabled Duff Beer and drank a fair amount of it. It was a solid pilsner that was much better than your typical Mexican lager. Sadly, it disappeared from the market, probably due to copyright problems. It is supposed to be coming back as Ffud, but I still haven't seen it available where I shop for beers.

Despite my longing for another bottle of Duff, at least there is Homero hefeweizen to satisfy my craving for a Simpsons related beer. This hefeweizen is very solid, medium-bodied and cloudy like a wheat beer should be. It has nice hints of banana and oranges, but the fruitiness is not overpowering. The one problem with the beer is that is was a little too carbonated.

You can buy a bottle of Cerveza Homero at El Deposito.

7 Barrios de Cervecería Lesnez

Cervecería Lesnez is based out of San Luis Potosí and produces the 7 Barrios line of beers. I'm generally not impressed, although their Brown is pretty decent. They also make an blond ale which I haven't seen available anywhere in the city.

7 Barrios Amber Ale, 2 out of 5, 5.1%ABV 

This beer was fairly nutty, with hints of caramel and vanilla. Definitely did not taste like an amber ale to me. It may have been too old and certainly wasn't enjoyable.

7 Barrios English Brown Ale, 4 out of 5 , 5.1%ABV

The Brown is the best of the 7 Barrios beers I have tried. It was easy to drink and slightly hoppy, not something I'm used to tasting in most of the boring brown ales available in Mexico City.

7 Barrios Hefeweizen, 1 out of 5, 5.1%ABV

Wow, this is one of the worst hefeweizen's I've ever had. Very weak and light, almost no flavor at all. There is a slight hint of sourness to it that makes it unpleasant.

You can buy all three of these beers at La Belga.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Calavera's Smoky Scottish Ale on Tap!

I just recently reviewed Calavera's Smoky Scottish Ale and fell in love with it. Thankfully, you can also enjoy this beer on tap at El Deposito. I have to admit, this beer works slightly better in the bottle. The smokiness of the beer becomes a little sour in the draft version, but it is still an enjoyable beer.

Bayernbräu Weissbier

Bayernbräu Weissbier


3 out of 5

When I think of German-style beers, the first thing that comes to mind is that they taste like bananas. Not all of them, but I've had a few too many that do. This weissbier, made in Puebla, tastes just like bananas. I tend to like wheat beers, but not when they have an overt banana flavor. If you like that style of beer, then you'll probably like this weissbier. I also found the beer to be slightly too carbonated.

Bayernbräu Brewery in Puebla seems to have recently started making this beer again. I had learned of the brewery many months ago and starting investigating where I could find their beer, but came up empty. A Beer Box employee told me they closed up shop. Obviously he was wrong and I'm glad to see they are producing again.

You can find this beer for sale at La Belga.

Calavera Morningstar IPA

Calavera Morningstar IPA

??? ABV

4 out of 5

Calavera has recently released their IPA, and they have done a fine job of it. I was a little skeptical because their American Pale Ale (not yet reviewed on this site) is a pretty poor excuse for a pale ale. The Morningstar, however, is a solid example of an American-style IPA, with strong floral hops. In fact, after drinking so much beer from Mexico, I've started to forget what it is like to have a beer like this, where the hops are like a punch in the face. They dominate the beer and I love it! The only critique I have of this beer (and it is a small one), is that there is a slight sweetness to it. I noticed the sweetness right away when I first sampled it, but it started to fade the more I drank.

Right now the Morningstar IPA is only available on tap. You can find it at El Deposito, Makena, and a bar I haven't had the chance to check out, El Trappist in Condesa at Alvaro Obregón 298, Local D. I enjoyed this beer at El Deposito, where it cost 80 pesos (!) for a half liter.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Minerva Imperial Stout

Minerva Imperial Stout


3 out of 5

When I think of Imperial Stouts, I think of beers that could substitute for a meal. They are thick, creamy, and full of flavor. Minerva's Imperial Stout has a decent flavor, but it is so watery that I would hesitate to even call this a regular stout. Maybe a black lager instead? It isn't a bad beer by any means, there are nice aromas of chocolate and coffee, and you can really taste the toasted malts. It is actually a fairly drinkable beer that I wouldn't mind having again, but if people buy this and think this is what an imperial stout should be like, that is really unfortunate.

You can find this beer just about anywhere that sells craft brews. My local Superama usually has this and the pale ale available for about 18 pesos a bottle. You can also get it at La Belga, El Deposito, The Beer Box, Beer and Fashion, The Beer Company, etc etc.

Calavera Smoky Scottish Ale 80/-

Calavera Smoky Scottish Ale


5 out of 5

I have been a little harsh on Calavera on this blog but I knew they could do better than the beers I have previously sampled.  They nail it with this Smoky Scottish Ale, which I absolutely loved! I remember seeing this beer for sale when I first arrived in Mexico, but never got around to trying it. It disappeared from the market for a while, but now it is back and I just tried it for the first time. It is a fairly light-bodied brown ale with a slight sweetness and nuttiness, and a slight hint of caramel. The underlying flavors really complement the smokiness of the beer well. One thing I don't particularly like about run-of-the-mill browns is that they are sweet, which for me, makes it hard to drink more than one. The smokiness in this beer, which is very very noticeable, dries the beer out a bit and makes it much more drinkable. I am also a complete sucker for anything smoked: cheese, oysters, chiles, beer, etc. If its tastes smokey, I'll probably like it. So, if you don't like all things smoked, then maybe this beer will be a little too strange or unappealing, but if you do, then I highly recommend it. Next time I'm at the beer store I'm stocking up, because this beer is about to become a regular.

I purchased this 330ml bottle at La Belga for ~30 pesos. It is also available in a 750ml version.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cervezas de barril en Graciela!

Cucapá Chupacabras Pale Ale
If you haven't been to Graciela in Colonia Roma yet, you need to go. They are really changing the game as far as beer bars go in Mexico City. The last two times I have been they have had Cucapá beers on tap. As far as I know, no other place in Mexico City does. While what they have available at any given time may vary widely, they have had their Honey, Obscura, Clasica and Chupacabras on tap.

Graciela Amber Ale
Graciela also has a rotating arsenal of house beers. So far I have tried their Blond Ale, Brown Ale, Pale Ale, IPA, Stout, and the above pictured Amber Ale.

All draft beers are 50 pesos for a 1/2 liter, 100 pesos for a liter. I recommend the half liter since sometimes they give you a little more (and you can try more beers!).

Lorelle Meets the Obsolete

Front: On Welfare LP
 Lorelle Meets the Obsolete is my new favorite band from Mexico. Originally from Guadalajara, they now reside in Mexico City. A few months back they released their first album, On Welfare, via Captcha Records out of Chicago.
Back: On Welfare LP

They play fairly noisy (but mellow) modern psychedelic rock with some elements of drone that would be more at home in Austin or Brooklyn than here in Mexico.

You can go stream the entire album for free over at their bandcamp, or at the bottom of this post.

When I first heard the record I was bummed that I would have to wait until I return to the US to pick up a copy of the vinyl, but I checked out the band's tumblr page and they are willing to set up personal meetings to sell you a copy of their record. I of course took advantage of this and just got my copy a few days ago. The vinyl is very high quality and the packaging is just beautiful. If you want a copy and are in Mexico City, just get in touch with the band. Black vinyl is 100 pesos, color is 150. (Amazingly, this is cheaper than ordering the record from the label!!)

Right now they don't have any scheduled shows but they told me there is a possibility they will be playing in Mexico City in early September, and they have a confirmed gig for late October.

Vintage Vinyl Record Convention, Mexico City, 2011

 Since I first found out about the Vintage Vinyl show I couldn't contain my excitement to actually attend a record show in Mexico. While I have enjoyed shopping for records in Mexico in the street markets and in the stores, record shows are much more interesting and I was starting to miss the ones back home. Unfortunately, the Vintage Vinyl show, supposedly the first record show in Mexico City, was a let down.
 I am pretty happy with my finds, but it was fairly difficult to find anything worth buying at the show. Part of my disappointment is probably due to me expecting something similar to record shows in the US geared towards collectors. Vintage Vinyl was definitely not geared towards record collectors. It seems the main audience were people who still casually listen to records or younger hipsters that have recently gotten into vinyl.
 Most of the available records at the show were the typical American/UK rock and pop that you can find anywhere in Mexico. Lots and lots of common records from the Beatles, CCR, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, plus countless other classic rock and 80s pop records. There was virtually no punk or metal, hardly any jazz (except one guy who had probably 50 Oscar Peterson records?!?), few sellers that had any rock mexicano, and only two sellers that had any new vinyl from current Mexican bands.
 I recognized some of the sellers here. Discos de Ayer and Retroactivo Records were present, although they certainly didn't have anything special at the show (you would be better off going to their stores). There was also one seller from Balderas that I recognized, plus a lot of vendors who typically sell in other markets like Lagunilla, Tepito, etc. I don't think anyone who sells at El Chopo came to the show, which I found somewhat surprising. I did learn about Discos Amapola, which I had not heard of before, but they deal mostly with newer imports that I can get for cheaper when I travel back to the US. One thing Discos Amapola and their friends at the show should be commended for is that they brought a few record players for people to listen before they buy. They were extremely friendly, and let me check out some records I hadn't heard before. Stores/sellers that let you listen before you buy definitely deserve repeat business.
 Despite my complaints, I had a good time at the show and I hope it happens again next year.

I did find a few records I have been looking for, plus a couple others I picked up on a whim.

What I found:
Coil - Panic/Tainted Love 12"
Esquivel - Latin-Esque LP
Caronte - Magos y Dragones LP
Toño Quirazco - Homenaje a Santo y Johnny LP
The High Fidelity Orchestra - My Girl LP
Polvo - Have You Ever Been There?/Can't Get Enough? 7"
Los Rockin Devils - Pata Pata Psicodelico 7"
Question Mark and the Mysterians - 96 Tears 7"
Inservibles - ¿Cual es tu pedo, ñero?
Inservibles - Demo 2008 7"
Darkness - Requiem cassette

The Polvo, Toño Quirazco, and High Fidelity Orchestra records were all on my want list of Mexican records and I'm really glad to have found them for reasonable prices at the show. I'll be doing individual posts of these in the future.

I'm not a huge Coil fan, but I do love their cover of Tainted Love so I had to get this 12". I remember being a young teenager when the Wax Trax Black Box came out. There was a VHS companion to the box set which included a video for Tainted Love, and it is probably still one of the darkest and most disturbing videos I've seen. Whenever I hear this song, no matter who is singing it, the images of this video always come to mind.

The Caronte LP is probably one of the worst Mexican metal LPs out there, but it is also one of the earliest releases on the Mexican Avanzada Metalica label. I'm trying to collect as many releases from that label as possible so I figured I should pick it up, plus it was cheap. Los Rockin Devils are a pretty run of the mill Mexican garage band, but I loved the cover of this 45 so I grabbed it. Question Mark and the Mysterians are great, so I couldn't pass up this Mexican pressing of their 96 Tears ep. Inservibles are a current lo-fi punk band from Mexico City which a friend recently turned me on to. Discos Amapola had their records so I decided to grab these. Esquivel is pretty hit or miss for me, but I hadn't seen the Latin-Esque LP before, and his records are hard to find in nice condition. Probably the biggest surprise of the record show was the Darkness cassette I found. I had never heard of them before, but the tape was basically free. There is literally no information on this old-school Mexican death metal band online, but this album is absolutely amazing. Right now I don't have a way to transfer cassette to mp3, but this music needs to be shared.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Craft Beer in Guanajuato?

I am heading to the city of Guanajuato soon for work, but I haven't been able to find any information on places to drink or purchase cerveza artesanal. Are there any readers out there that know the city and can recommend some bars?

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Have you even been to these places?

Chilango magazine's webpage has a new article up on places to buy vinyl in Mexico City. There is really not much interesting here, but this description of El Chopo is mindblowing:

"What you will mainly find is Mexican rock, from the time of rock n' roll of the likes of César Costa and Los Hermano Carrión, to lps of bands like La Revolución de Emiliano Zapata, Three Souls in My Mind, Caifanes, La Maldita Vecindad, the early works of Javier Bátiz and a lot of other things."

Really? Has the author of this piece ever been to El Chopo? You can find this type of music at El Chopo for sure, but it isn't very easy and only a few sellers deal in this kind of music there. El Chopo is mostly metal, punk, and goth, with a  minority of sellers dealing in other things like rock mexicano, jazz, blues, reggae, and techno. Sorry Chilango, but you need some better reporters.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Record Show in Mexico City Tomorrow!

I've posted about the Vintage Vinyl Record Show that is taking place before, but I just wanted to remind everyone that it starts tomorrow and goes through Sunday. The show is taking place at the Foro Cultural MUJAM in Colonia Doctores.

If you are reading this and attend, let me know what you pick up! I'll be posting my finds on the blog.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

One thing Americans can learn from craft beer in Mexico

A typical beer section in the U.S. (taken from Draft Mag)
Draft Magazine has a new story up about "beer paralysis," the inability to make a decision when shopping for beer. I have experienced beer paralysis on numerous occasions in the U.S., primarily because there are so many choices and many of those choices are fairly expensive. Buying beer becomes an ordeal since it usually takes about an hour to come to a decision when faced with such a wide array of choices. Of course, I can always buy a six-pack of something I know is great (which usually means I just buy a six-pack of something from Deschuttes or Great Divide), but when there are so many craft beers to choose from, I'd rather try something new. The problem is that, in most places in the U.S., you can only buy a six-pack. If the beer happens to be mediocre or terrible, then you are stuck with 5 extra bottles of garbage and just wasted 8-12 dollars.

In Mexico, this is never a problem. Nobody sells craft beer in 6-packs, everything is sold by the bottle. The practical reason for this is that craft beer is fairly expensive here, especially compared to what most people make in a day's work, so sellers are much more likely to make a sale of a few bottles of something unknown to most people rather than expect somebody to fork over 150 pesos on a beer they have never tried. But, I never face beer paralysis in Mexico, because I can just go to any store, buy as many bottles as I want, and mix it up between what I know to be good and a few beers I haven't tried before.

I have been to a few stores in the U.S. that do allow you to make your own six-pack or buy by the bottle, but half the time the only beers available are ones where the employees broke a bottle from a six-pack. Needless to say, this means the individual bottle selection is pretty small. Now that I know the benefits of buying by the bottle, it will be hard to transition back when or if I ever move back to the U.S. Craft beer lovers in the U.S. need to start raising hell and demanding that their favorite beer stores start offering more beers by the bottle. It seems like a win for everyone since more people will be able to try more styles of beer, which is good for the breweries, and it is good for the stores since more customers will become familiar with more of their product.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Cucapá La Migra Imperial Stout

Cucapá La Migra Imperial Stout


5 out of 5

Yes! Cucapá does it again! This beer is absolutely amazing. Previously I had tried the Winter 2010-11 version of this beer, and while I thought it was ok, it was not the greatness I had come to expect from Cucapá. This imperial stout is much hoppier than most other versions of the style, but I am a complete hop-head and that is why I like this beer so much. It almost comes close to a Black IPA in hoppiness, though not quite. It also has nice chocolate flavors that really complement the hops and roasted malts. The bottle says it also contains piloncillo from Sonora which one might think would make the beer sweet, but the sweetness is not overpowering. In fact, the beer has a fairly bitter finish. The one thing I would like to see is some more body in this beer, it is fairly full-bodied, but when a beer is labeled as an imperial stout I expect a much creamier beer. Still, this beer is great and I'm already dreaming about the next time I can have one.

I got this 650ml bottle at La Belga for 120 pesos.

21 Beer Pale Ale

21 Beer Pale Ale


2 out of 5

First thing's first, this is not a pale ale. At least compared to every single other pale ale I've ever had in my life (except for some of the recent disasters I've tried), you will be sorely disappointed drinking this beer if you want a medium-bodied, hoppy ale. However, this is not a bad beer at all and I would drink it again if the price was right. This pale, yellowish ale is very light-bodied, with a slight hint of malts, and tastes very bready. I would liken this beer more towards an amber or blond ale, but even the better amber and blond ales I've had are not as light as this beer. When I first poured it, it looked a lot like a Corona or some other terrible Mexican lager, but thankfully the lightness of it is deceiving. Had this beer been labeled something else besides a pale ale it would probably get a higher rating, but because of false advertising I only gave it a 2.

21 Beer is produced in Zapopan, Jalisco, but is owned by a company out of Canada?? I don't really understand what is going on here, but you can check out their webpage for more info.

I picked this up at The Beer Company in Coyoacán for around 25-30 pesos.