The new malting plant in Puebla. The new malting plant in Puebla.

Artisanal beer makers celebrate their new malting plant

Puebla facility will initially supply 10 microbreweries but capacity will increase in the future

A new malting plant that will exclusively supply Mexico’s growing artisanal beer industry opened in Puebla yesterday with a public-private investment of 30 million pesos (US $1.5 million).

Located in the municipality of Oriental, the plant — called Maltería Central Altiplano — will initially produce 60 tonnes of malt annually for 10 craft breweries. But it will eventually have the capacity to produce 1,000 tonnes a year.

The director of Acermex, Mexico’s independent brewers’ association, told the news website Expansión that the facility will eliminate the need for microbreweries to import beer-making ingredients from the United States, Canada and European countries.

“This is the first time that we will have an independent malting plant. Before, there were only the ones that Heineken CM [Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma] and Grupo Modelo AB InBev [Anheuser-Busch] have . . .” Paz Austin said.

Malt imports from small breweries increased by 7% between 2015 and 2016, according to the most recent available statistics, and demand for the product continues to grow.

Eight years ago, there were just 14 independent breweries in Mexico but Acermex data shows that there are now 630.

The new plant is the brainchild of Carlos Bencomo, the founder of the microbrewery Cervecería de Colima. The federal Secretariat of Agriculture contributed 2.5 million pesos (US $125,000) towards its construction.

The barley used to make the malt will come from 20 local producers while the plant will initially provide direct employment for 15 people.

Among the breweries that will purchase the malt are the Yucatán-based Patito, Jalisco’s Minerva, 5 de Mayo from Puebla, Mexico City’s La Chingonería and Bencomo’s company, Colima.

Maribel Quiroga, the director of the National Chamber of the Beer Industry or Cerveceros de México, told Expansión that within one year the goal is to have 40% of all base malts used in Mexican beer produced domestically.

“. . . We want the ingredients used by . . . breweries to be Mexican and to support Mexican agriculture,” she said.

Bencomo told Forbes México that beyond satisfying the demand for malt, another goal of the new plant is to encourage entrepreneurs to open new microbreweries.

The plant is expected to make Puebla a focal point for the domestic craft beer industry and two new independent breweries are slated to open in the state in the near future.

“There is a whole industry that is generated by craft beer, such as this malting plant, companies dedicated to the production of specialized machinery [and] restaurants . . . the true heroes are the artisanal beer entrepreneurs because they were willing to take a chance in this complicated industry and to educate consumers to show them that there is another kind of beer,” Austin said.

Mexico is the world’s fourth largest beer producer and the number one exporter.

However, craft beer currently accounts for only 0.1% of exports, with Heineken CM and Modelo sharing a duopoly.

Source: Expansión (sp), Forbes México (sp)

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