The budding market for artisanal beer in Mexico, while small and still expanding locally, is enjoying double-digit annual growth, thanks to exports.
According to the Brewers’ Association of the Mexican Republic (Acermex), there are over 400 artisanal beer brands, a number that has been on the rise since 2013 when the Economic Competition Commission, Cofece, ruled that no one had the exclusive right to distribute the beverage.
But distribution has also been opening up abroad.
Acermex says that during the last five years the volume of Mexican beer exported to the United States has increased by 23%.
With one year in the market, Cervecería Reforma is one of those brands. Based in Mexico City, it took its name from the emblematic Reforma Avenue.
“On one end of the avenue you find European empires, like Chapultepec Castle, while on the other you find the ruins of the Templo Mayor [the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlán] and the Aztec empire. In between, you find modernity: high-rises, restaurants, gastronomy, colors and the Angel of Independence. We took elements from all that to create the brewery,” said owner Iván Martínez.
Cervecería Reforma offers classic beers brewed with traditional ingredients along with more experimental versions that include ingredients like the sap of the maguey plant, known as aguamiel; organic cacao beans from Oaxaca; cinnamon; and mezcal.
“We wanted to use Mexican ingredients that gave our brand and our beer its own identity,” said Martínez, who added that by the end of the month it will start exporting to Germany, Belgium and Japan.
San Miguel de Allende-based Cervecería Allende has been selling its brews for a year and a half, and already exports to eight U.S. states, Belgium and Spain, with plans to include more countries this year.
CEO Rodrigo Moncada told the newspaper El Financiero that the demand for his beer products has surpassed the company’s expectations, meaning they’ve had to double their original production projection of 60,000 bottles.
While domestic production of the ingredients needed by the breweries is on the rise, the quality is still subpar, and most must be imported.
As far as possible beer entrepreneurs use Mexican products elsewhere in their processes, taking advantage of local seasonal ingredients and sourcing their bottles, bottle caps and labels locally.
“We are a local-trend product, but with a global vision,” said Moncada. “One of our hashtags in social media is ‘think local and drink local.’ We want people from around the globe to taste what’s done in Mexico; that every time a bottle is opened, no matter where, they get to know what we are . . . our culture and traditions.”