This year, October’s writers traveled to dozens of countries and drank hundreds of beers, but one place truly captured their hearts. From its coastal paradise that’s a refuge for adventurous brewers to its volcanic foothills where a brewery making beers from agave sap, Mexico is this year’s best beer destination—and one you should add to your 2020 travel list. Here’s why:
There’s a lot going on in Mexico City—which is not surprising, considering it’s one of the largest cities in the world and the most populous city in North America. What is surprising is when it comes to beer the people driving the small-but-might craft revolution are women. The city is home to Adelitas, a women-led beer collective, that “is pushing to make visible the work of women within the industry, from those on the taproom floor to the marketers, brewers and founders.” Explore the city through six of its women-led breweries.
Baja California Sur
Boasting 1,243 miles of coastline, Baja Sur is a popular escape for the sport fisherman, the spring breaker, and the aspiring brewer alike. Specifically, four brewers are taking on the region’s beer scene, which, like much of Mexico, is dominated by macro lagers. Meet Baja Brewing Company, El Beer Shop, La Micro Brewery, and Todos Santos Brewing Company, four of the most ambitious—and only—breweries in Baja Sur trying to turn the tourist destination into a craft beer destination.
For two brewers in Puerto Vallarta, the road to opening a brewery was far from traditional. “I brewed my first batch of beer on pozole pots,” said Aarón Montes Meza, owner of El Terrible Brewing in Puerto Vallarta’s Coapinole neighborhood: “a bonafide barrio about 25 minutes northeast from downtown.” Meanwhile, in the Emiliano Zapata neighborhood of El Centro, Monzón Brewing is a small brewery and taproom run by two Seattle natives who were sick of drinking Pacifico, Corona, and Dos Equis. Combined, these breweries are bringing dry-hopped pilsners and session IPAs to Puerto Vallarta.
“The historical center of the city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1993, and its tourist infrastructure is accordingly robust with many hotels. But for the most part, it’s Mexicans who visit Zacatecas; I could count the number of international tourists I spotted on one hand.” The secret is out about Zacatecas, a city in central Mexico that’s rich with history and beer. From nopal cactus goses at Brigada Mutante to hibiscus agua fresca ales at Chacuaco Cervecera, it’s a city that proves there’s a lot more happening in Mexican beer than lagers adorned with limes.