En Mexico

I send my dispatch today from under the sunny(ish) skies of Ensenada, Mexico. There's an annual craft beer festival down here that has grown to become one of the more important dates on the annual calendar. Over a hundred breweries will be pouring beer on Saturday and as a lead-up there is a series of talks and lectures from I think largely academic types (I met a researcher last night). I got one of the golden tickets to speak, along with the very famous but elusive John Palmer, whose guide to homebrewing remains stubbornly atop the best seller lists in beer, despite my efforts.

The phrase "craft beer" is probably useful here--at least for awhile. The two large beer conglomerates have even more control over the Mexican market than the bigs ever had in the US, and small breweries are fighting an uphill battle. They seem to have adopted the US model of brewing (down to styles), and at the moment seem like a discrete category separate from the Coronas and Tecates and Pacificos.

Things are still quite new, though, and from what I can gather they're getting organized to make the laws more favorable. I jumped at the chance to come because I am remarkably ignorant our our neighbor's beer. I'll be here through Sunday, attempting to absorb as much as I can about the breweries, beer culture, beer styles (but yes, IPAs do seem to be prominent), and business in Mexico. I'll try to bird-dog the trends and see if I can find any nascent Mexican expressions that might be steering the development of distinctive, native beer styles. And I'll definitely try to sit down with at least one Mexican brewer for the podcast.

Updates as I have time, and a full report in due course.

 Carlos Macklis (R) of Norte Brewing in Tijuana, with his head brewer.

Carlos Macklis (R) of Norte Brewing in Tijuana, with his head brewer.

Jeff Alworthtravel, Mexico