The Mexican craft beer revolution

It’s tough to find a beer in Mexico City that isn’t produced by one of the country’s two giant beer companies. With few exceptions, restaurants and bars serve the same four or five beers — the only question is whether an establishment will carry FEMSA brands (Sol, Indio, Bohemia) or Modelo (Victoria, Pacifico, Negra Modelo).

That’s changing lately. A Mexican craft beer trend is sweeping the city, with independent, non-monopoly produced brews suddenly popping up in bars and restaurants. Many of these beers are made in Guadalajara, but some are produced in Mexico City. While craft brews have been popular in the United States for a while, this is staggering news for Mexicans and expats. More brews mean we have a choice now. A choice!

Probably the best new craft-beer bar is El Depósito, which opened a few months ago in Condesa. They stock around 140 beers from around the world, including Shiner Bock. I think my heart stopped beating when I saw Shiner’s distinctive yellow bottle — Shiner was the nectar of my 20′s, along with Silk Panties shots at Cosmos in Dallas.

El Depósito also sells Belgian lambics, smoked German Rauchbier and other bottles that are hard to find in Mexico. And they carry eight artisanal Mexican brews, including Cucapá, Poe, Malverde and Minerva.

Crayton and I snagged the last table a few Fridays ago, around 8 p.m. It’s an open, airy place, with shelves of beer and fridges on one side, and a bar on the other. Music videos played on mute on flat screens. Guns’n'Roses “Don’t Cry” swept out of the speakers, launching us into a discussion about the great power ballads.

At the register, I ordered a Cucapá Clasica for me and a Poe for Crayton, both of which are Mexican brews. We munched on popcorn and people-watched. (If you’re hungry, El Depósito also sells burritos.)

The super-hip waitress reminded me of the chola girls who used to intimidate me in junior high — feathered bangs, straight hair, big hoop earrings, heavy black eyeliner. Funny how things change because now I liked her look. Everyone else was in jeans and T-shirts.

We each had two beers and then had to move on to meet a friend for dinner. But I’d definitely go back. It’s a casual place without any of the pretentiousness that sometimes comes with Condesa. Plus it’s great to see a place that supports the independent beer scene in Mexico. If you’re in favor of opening up the Mexican beer market to something other than Victoria or Indio, you must pay them a visit.

You can even pick up a six pack to go — the price is slightly cheaper than drinking it there.

INFO
El Depósito
Baja California 375, near Benjamin Franklin
Phone: 5271-0716
Check them out on Facebook.

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24 Responses to “The Mexican craft beer revolution”
  1. Cooking in Mexico

    I, too, came of drinking age in Texas (Austin) and know Shiner Bock well.

    I’m sure we’ll see independently brewed beer in the Puerto Vallarta area, if it isn’t here already.

  2. Leah Flinn

    This is fantastic news! Means that there is hope that something like this will come to Veracruz!

    I love Shiner Bock. Not very popular in Ohio and eastward, but brother who lives in Nebraska introduced me to it and I fell in love. Yuengling was the beer of my (younger) 20s…ah the nostalgia.

  3. mymothersbrain

    OMG, that POE looks great! Can you ship me one? :-)
    (Great blog post, btw.)

    • Lesley

      Thanks! Next time I’m in Dallas I’ll bring you one. :-)

  4. Alfonso

    Heck yeah, Shiner Bock! It’s the beer that fuels my life.

    • Lesley

      I didn’t expect so much Shiner love with this post. Makes me very, very happy. One day I will fulfill my dream to visit the Shiner brewery…

  5. Zac

    I went to El Deposito on accident recently. I enjoy what they are doing, but I have found that every “world” beer-store I have been to so far, has more or less the same selection, and El Deposito has the highest prices I’ve come across. I highly recommend La Belga in Roma. The cross street is Orizaba, but I don’t remember which street it is actually on. Queretaro? Around there.

    I’ve got plans to make beer with a friend of mine, the malts we can get here, but the hops will be much cheaper to have shipped from the states, than to buy in Mexico it looks like.

    I’m dying for a double IPA.

    • Lesley

      Zac: Really? I’ve been to La Belga and thought El Depósito had a bigger selection. My visit to La Belga was awhile ago, though. What I like about El Depósito is that you can sit and drink the beer there. Don’t know if you can do that yet at LB. It felt kind of small and cramped. Again, though, love what they’re doing and that they’re offering a choice beyond Victoria.

      Ooh, you’re going to make beer here! Can I try once you’ve got a working sample? I overheard at El Depósito last time I was there that a Mexican brewer is coming out with an IPA soon. Unfortunately I don’t remember who.

      • Zac

        El Deposito is physically MUCH bigger, but if I had to place a bet on who carried more beers, I’d put my money on La Belga. While it is literally a very tiny place, they manage to pack in a huge selection. I doubt it will ever open up to sitting and having a beer, as the space just doesn’t allow for it, but for grab-and-go tasty beers, it’s my shop of choice.

        I’m planning on making beer here! If it never happens, it wouldn’t be the first thing I’ve talked about doing and not done. I do have a friend with the space to do it, and the desire to do it. I assume we would have some sort of tasting once we’ve got something worthy of it :) I’d love to try the Mexican IPA when it comes out!

  6. Zac

    replying again because I forgot to subscribe to follow-up comments :)

  7. Laura

    I still get Google alerts for “craft beer in Mexico City,” and just got an alert for this! Nice report–glad you enjoyed El Deposito. ;)

  8. nancyflores

    great post, lesley! i’ll drink a shiner in your honor : )

  9. Don Cuevas

    We are here in Newark, NJ, at an airport hotel. Last night at supper, we ordered our favorite Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.
    I saw another customer get a Corona (meh!) with the requiste lime wedge in its neck. Tastes vary widely.
    ($6.00 a bottle, by the way. That’s dollars, not pesos.)

    In an earlier post by Crayton, he mentioned Lucille, on Orizaba, in Col. Roma. Refresh my memory, please, as to what was offered there. We’ll be staying close to that bar when we return from the U.S.

    Saludos,
    Don Cuevas

    • Lesley

      Hi DC: Just realized I never replied to your question about Lucille. Don’t know if I’m too late on that one, but the place offers a handful of Mexican craft brews — perhaps three or varieties? — along with the usual Mexican beer suspects. I believe Minverva is one of them; I don’t think they have Cucapa, or at least they didn’t the last time I was there. You may want to call and inquire.

      Lucille also requires a food purchase with alcohol. I recommend the arrachera tacos. Don’t be tempted by the “Totochos,” which sound enticingly like American style nachos, but resemble a poor man’s movie-theater version instead.

  10. Daniel H.

    I stumbled upon this place some weeks ago, too. Impressive, but I couldn’t sit around and have a brew. Will have to go back! And I have not checked out La Belga but I will as well. We need a place like this downtown!! – D

  11. Joanna

    thank you for this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i need to get my butt up to the condesa and get me some SHINER BOCK! my husband will be VERY happy ;)

  12. Katie

    We just went to El Deposito on this last trip and loved it! We loved the super relaxed atmosphere. It kind of reminded us of Tijuana bars. Our friend told us that you can order food from the Argentinian place across the street: pizzas, empanadas, etc, and they will bring them over to you at El Deposito. Craft beer and Argentine pizza in DF? Sold.

    • Lesley

      Cool! Glad you enjoyed it. Didn’t know about the Argentinean deal — empanadas and beer is one of my faves. On the Tijuana thing: Crayton and I have been wanting to plan a trip there. I’ll have to hit you up for recommendations whenever we decide to go.

  13. Robert

    Thanks Lesley,

    I’ve been looking for a decent beer selection since arriving in the DF in April. Belgian beers are my favorite but I love sampling new beers. I think I’ll go there tonight and enjoy some beer.

    Being from Austin, Shiner Bock has always been a favorite of mine. In fact Shiner sponsors our tailgate at University of Texas football games. Good times…

    • Lesley T.

      Hi Robert: Glad this was helpful to you. Also, I’m very excited that one of my readers is a Longhorn. Welcome to DF!

  14. Robert

    Hi Lesley,
    I’m back in the DF and plan to head there again tomorrow afternoon. Once again thanks for the write up.

  15. Chris

    Hey, just came from El Deposito on Baja California. Thanks for the write up. Unfortunately not great news. They didn’t have Shiner and the guy at the store said they haven’t carried it in about 8 months. Hope this saves someone the heartache. Unless they bring it back in, we’re back to the “usual” suspects in terms of “World” beer in DF.

  16. Yann

    Sorry for the shameless self promotion, but I just started a new blog on craft beers in Mexico City –
    http://beerandrecordsinmexicocity.blogspot.com/

    I’m still working on getting a lot of information up there, but hopefully its helpful to others who read this post.

    And, for those going to La Belga, make sure to check out La Nacional right next door on the corner of Orizaba and Querétaro. Even though you can’t sit down and drink a beer at La Belga, you can sample beers from Cucapá, TJ Beer, Tempus, and others at La Nacional.

    I also highly recommend checking out Zazá for a variety of craft beers on draft, and great pizzas. More info here: http://beerandrecordsinmexicocity.blogspot.com/2011/06/bar-zaza.html

  17. Fred

    I remember how much I loved Shiner Bock when I first tried it in San Antonio back in 2003!

    Danke f

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