Our new article, “Expat Entrepreneurs in Mexico: Puerto Vallarta’s Brewmaster”, got me thinking about all the wonderful Mexican beer I’ve had over the years. I’m particularly fond of Negra Modelo, a smooth amber beer I reach for on a hot summer day.
Mexico is home to many excellent beer brands but not that many beer companies. In fact, brewing giants Grupo Modelo and FEMSA, which is owned by the Dutch company Heineken, share well over 90 percent of the Mexican beer market.
The Spanish introduced beer to Mexico in the 16th century but production was tightly controlled and beer was heavily taxed. Production didn’t really get going until the Spanish exited during the Mexican Revolution of 1810. By the time Napoleon put the Austrian Maximilian I on the throne in 1864 breweries began popping up all over Mexico, aided by an influx of German immigrants. By the early 20th century there were nearly 40 brewing companies throughout the country.
Today, Mexico is the world’s sixth-largest beer producer and sixth-largest beer consumer. Mexican beer is sold in over 150 countries around the world. Which brings me to the development of microbreweries in Mexico and Conner Watts’ microbrewery in Puerto Vallarta, the subject of our new article.
Watts, 38, opened the Los Muertos Brewing Company in Puerto Vallarta’s southside just five years ago and now has added another location just north of downtown along Avenida Francisco Villa near Colonia Gaviotas.
From Park City, Utah, Watts and his wife Stephanie were married in PV in 2009 and decided to make the Bay of Banderas area their new home. Watts had built a bar from scratch in Park City and wanted to try his hand at brewing his own beer. He sold everything in Utah, found a great corner location in PV’s Zona Romantica and opened the city’s first microbrewery in 2012.
Microbreweries are not on every corner in Mexico. Reportedly, the first microbrewery opened in Mazatán several decades ago, followed by several in Mexico City. Guadalajara has come on strong as a microbrewery center. The Minerva brand in Guadalajara received top honors at the World Beer Cup in 2010 in the category of English-Style Mild Ale for its Minerva Pale Ale.
Microbreweries usually differentiate their brews from the big beer producers by making a variety of ales and stouts and focus less on lagers, the market dominated by the giants. Watts’ Los Muertos Brewing Company offers between seven and 12 flavors, depending on the time of year and storage capacity.
If you’re a beer lover, Mexico is heaven. And it just keeps getting better. Saludos!