Cinco de Mayo - The Beer, the History, and the Best Excuse to Wear a Sombrero

It’s Cinco de Mayo, and, if you’re anything like us here at Loyale, you’re planning on celebrating with a few cervezas. With that in mind, we thought we’d pass along some interesting facts about Mexican beer, Mexican beer history, the growing craft beer movement in Mexico, and how Mexican beer has influenced American craft beers. ¡Vámanos!


Everyone knows that Mexican beer is perfectly suited for hot climates and spicy food, but did you know that Mexico is also the largest beer exporter in the world? How did that happen?


Lets start with a brief history lesson. Mexico has a rich history of fermented beverages, but its beer history starts with European influences. Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican army’s defeat of French forces in 1862 at the Battle of Puebla. However, a year after the Battle of Puebla, French forces captured Mexico City and installed an Austrian, Maximilian, as the emperor of Mexico. Maximilian had quite the taste for beer and brought Austrian brewers with him to Mexico to brew dark, Vienna style beers for him. While Maximilian was pushed out of power after only three years, the brewing techniques stuck around and many of today’s dark Mexican beers (think Dos Equis Amber or Negra Modelo) can be traced back to those first Austrian brewers.


Next, a wave of German immigrants came to Mexico throughout the second half of the 19th century and brought their brewing traditions with them. Lighter style pilsners and lagers began to appear throughout the country and by the 1890s the first large scale breweries opened in Mexico. Today, Mexico is mostly known for its crisp, light lagers (think Corona) and pilsners (think Pacifico).


In homage to Mexican brewing, a number of US craft breweries have begun to produce their own takes on the traditional Mexican beers. Walk around your local craft breweries this time of year and you’ll likely see Mexican-inspired black lagers, pale lagers, and pilsners. Want an example in Santa Barbara? Stop by Pure Order Brewing and enjoy their VIVA Lager

But what about Mexican craft beer in Mexico? Good question. Its just starting to take off, so watch out. For decades the Mexican beer market was controlled by just two huge breweries that produced pretty much all of the Mexican beers available in the US. But that’s just starting to change. Mexican craft breweries are popping up around the larger cities and the government has started to embrace them by making the business climate friendlier to them. Don’t be surprised if you start to see Mexican tequila barrel-aged beers on the shelf in the next few years!