There is a new cervecería in Puerto Vallarta, the aptly named Beer Bank. More than ninety-five different microbrews are stocked, including beers from Mexico, as well as Germany, Belgium, Cuba, Japan, the U.S. and other countries with a fine microbrew tradition.
Paulina Castro Garcia, the affable owner and a Puerto Vallarta native, learned to appreciate microbrews when she lived in Querétaro. She told us that most beer in Mexico is produced by two big companies, Modelo and Cuauhtemoc.
“We really don’t have the option to choose among a wide variety of beers style in Mexico, because everywhere you go there’re always the same beers. Once I started to try all these different beer styles of microbrews at bars and restauants in Querétaro, I didn’t like commercial Mexican beer any more. When I went to the Beer Bank in Queretaro I really liked the concept of having beer from all over the world.
“I wanted to see Mexican craft beer available for everyone, and to get people to learn more about the culture of beer. It’s one of the most consumed beverages in the world, but we don’t know anything about it. It has a big story to tell and no one is telling it. So I thought it was a good opportunity to have this concept in Puerto Vallarta.”
By definition, microbrews, sometimes known as craft beers, are beers made in a limited quantity with an emphasis on quality, rather than mass production.
Each bottle of Fuller’s Vintage Ale, with an alcoholic content of 8.5%, is numbered. In 2010, only 160,000 bottles of this beer were produced for world-wide distribution. Its high alcohol content means it can be cellared.
Another interesting note: India Pale Ale, also containing an alcoholic content of 8.5%, is so named because it required more alcohol to withstand the long ocean voyage to India without spoiling, while it continued to ferment slowly during the journey. British troops appreciated its fruity hop flavor, which must have helped wash down their curries. It mellow dryness also pairs well with Mexican dishes.
The microbrewery business is growing year by year in Mexico, with most of the the production in Baja California. Cervecería de Baja California bottle Cucapá and have an unusually named cerveza, Chupacabras, an American style pale ale named after the infamous creature of Latin American lore that sucks the blood of goats. Hopefully, this beer will not leave you that thirsty, but rather with an appreciation for a malty, smooth beer that pours a frothy head and suggests a floral, hop aroma.
Beer Bank is a rare instance of a cervecería selling a great product, and offering the opportunity to learn the history and qualities of each beer label. Paulina will help you select the best beer to serve with your menu. For us, she recommended a Cucapá Obscura to compliment a spicy Mexican meal and a Floreffe Biere d’Abbaye Prima Melior, with its undertones of coffee, licorice and raisin, to serve with chocolate cake. Other beers include Cuban beers (unavailable in the US, thanks to misguided foreign policy), organic honey beer, and Mexican chile-flavored beer.
Besides the Beer Bank here in Puerto Vallarta, there are three others in Celaya, Tampico and Querétaro. To see a complete list of their inventory, go to www.beerbank.com.mx and select “catalogo”. Beer Bank also sells wholesale, distributing to bars and restaurants.
Beer Bank is located at Avenida México 1293 in Colonia 5 de Deciembre, two blocks north of Leys grocery store, on the bay side of the street. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 4:30 – 9:00 p.m. Phone 322-222-9220.
Update: This store has closed. Beer Banks in Mexico are in Celaya, Queretaro and Guadalajara. (April, 2012)