Mexican Beer - Cerveza Mexicana

Mesoamerican alcoholic beverages

Photo of Agave plant in Mexico © Al BarrusOver a thousand years ago the Mesoamerican peoples of ancient Mexico were drinking "pulque," an alcoholic substance made from fermented sap, extracted from the heart of the agave cactus. The Native American Tarahumara people of northwestern Mexico continue to use ground corn and native grasses to make a fermented corn beer called "tesgüino." The recipes for these alcoholic beverages are often said to have originated directly from the ancient gods, and these ancient alcoholic concoctions were used primarily during religious ceremonies and festivals.

The arrival of European beer

Mexican Label on American Bottle of Beer © Al BarrusEuropean beer, brewed with barley, wasn't introduced into Mexico, until after the arrival of, Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortés. However, early on, there was a short supply of the European beer, due to lack of the necessary brewing ingredients. In efforts lower the cost of brewing and make beer more readily available, barley was planted in Mexico, but the Spanish government soon enacted higher taxes on the Mexican grown grains, as well as more stringent regulatory requirements, in order to ensure the continued sales of the beer being imported from Europe. It wasn't until after the Mexican War of Independence, and the end of Spanish rule, that beer production really began to pick up in Mexico.

German brew-masters influence

In the late 1890s, as well as after both the first and second World Wars, there were large influxes of German immigrants that moved into Mexico. The age-old brewing techniques of the German brew-masters were incorporated into Mexican beer production, and continue to influence the flavor of many Mexican beers today. At the end of the Mexican Revolution, there were approximately three dozen breweries operating in Mexico. However, soon thereafter, the smaller breweries began being consolidated into the two present day Mexican brewing giants, Cerveceria Modelo and Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma, who between them produce more than 90% of all beer brewed in Mexico. Currently, Mexico has become one of the largest exporters, with Mexican beer being shipped to over 150 countries around the world.