Published in Pacific Pearl Magazine december 2020 issue
Everybody knows that we love beer in Mazatlan, especially our beloved Pacifico. For more than 120 years the local brewery has been brewing billions of gallons of this amber nectar. Thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of the German immigrants and their thirst for ‘das Bier’, it has been produced locally since the 19th century. The first intents were taken by Celso Fuhrken who brewed Gambrinus beer, referring to the legendary European inventor of beer and Jacob Lang who brewed Lager, Porter and Ale. Both breweries and others who followed did not succeed commercially, because of lack of funding and high production costs. In 1900 five German businessmen with investment of the Melchers Company, started the Pacific brewery. Initially the Pacifico brewery offered two types of beer; the Munich dark beer and the Lager clear beer. It was delivered by horse-drawn carriages. The latter was more popular, so that is what we now know as Pacifico beer. In the 1950’s the Pacifico brewery was bought by Grupo Modelo. Since 2012 it has become part of the Belgian consortium Anheuser-Busch InBev, making it available to Pacifico beer fans in the US.
Now for those of us who like beer with more punch than a Pacifico, there were sadly only few options. The seasonal highlight was the arrival of Noche Buena bock beer, which translate to Christmas Eve or Poinsettia. This specialty beer is only available from October through December, so you need to stock up if you wanted it to last into the New Year. It continues to be sold in Mazatlan’s supermarket.
Mazatlan’s craft breweries
For some local beer fanatics, this wasn’t good enough. They took matters into their own hands, In 1995 Valentino’s opened the first microbrewery of Latin America by master brewer Rogelio Fontes. He organized the first local beer festival in 1996. After a few year unfortunately this brewery closed. But the passion for craft beer didn’t disappear, it went ‘underground’. Groups of beer tasters and home brewers popped up around town. Mazatlán’s home brew club ‘Los Fermentonicos’ organized internal competitions, stimulating younger home brewers to try their luck. One of them, Edvin Jonsson, took it a step further and opened the Tres Islas microbrewery in 2016. Several others like El Navegante, La Cueva del Diablo and La Bichola followed in the following years.
Cerveceria Tres Islas
This brewpub opened its doors in 2016 in the industrial harbor quarter of downtown Mazatlan. This hasn’t stopped any thirsty drinkers finding their way to this tucked away location. The first year consumption often exceeded production, which was obviously a good problem to have for a startup. You can find IPA, Hazy IPA, Pilsner, Porter, Scottish and Blonde ale on tap. They boast four awards in the Copa Cerveza MX national beer competition, winning a silver medal with their Porter in 2016, twice a gold medal with their Scottish in 2017 and 2018 and another gold medal with their Black lager in 2019.
The brewpub is currently closed because of roadworks in front of the brewery. But you can find Tres Islas beer at the tap takeover at Mano Santa restaurant in the Marina area or at Hector’s Bistro, Piquillas, Angelinas, Water’s Edge, Sports box and Bier Garden. At Mano Santa you can also get growlers to go. The small one-liter growler costs $190 pesos including the bottle or $100 pesos for refills if you bring a Tres Islas growler. The larger 1.9 liter (1/2 gallon) growler costs $330 pesos or $200 pesos for refills.
Cerveceria El Navegante
This brewpub on the Malecon started welcoming guests at the beginning of 2019. Its name ‘the sailor’ refers to Mazatlán’s maritime past and the British pub exterior combines perfectly with the craft beers you can enjoy inside. There is a wide range of options, ranging from Golden ale, Weiss bier, brown Ale, Porter, Stout and IPA. Their Golden ale won a bronze medal at last year’s Copa Cerveza MX national beer competition. They have recently reopened after a pause due to the pandemic. The opening hours are Thu and Sun 1.00-9.00 p.m. and Fri-Sat 3.00-11.00 p.m. For refills you can bring your own clean growler, even if it’s another brand and they charge $100 pesos per liter.
Cerveceria La Bichola
A recent addition to local brewpubs is Cerveceria La Bichola. This flashy pub with full-glass exterior is located on Ejercito Mexicano Avenue, which isn’t your traditional party area but worth the detour. Its name is a fun twist on local slang, where ‘bichi’ means naked. You can find four craft beer varieties: Pale Ale, Porter, Pilsner and IPA. Opening hours are Mon-Sat from 1.00-10.00 p.m. You can listen to live music on Fridays and Saturdays. Get your takeaway 1.9 liter (1/2 gallon) growler for $350 pesos or $230 pesos for refills. They don’t accept growlers from any other brands.
Maaike Hoekstra has lived in Mexico for over 15 years. She is passionate about Mexican culture and food. Here are the stories and recipes she finds along the way.