Homebrewers in Mexico are few and far between so I was excited to be invited to one of the local cervecero's house for a few samples of his beer and a discussion about brewing beer at home in Mexico.
Barry lives just outside the city limits here in San Miguel in a beautiful house he designed himself. He met us in the driveway at the stone path that led to his 'man cave'/brewery. The first thing I noticed as we entered was the three tap handles coming out of the wall near the bar sink. Above is shelving with custom labeled beer mugs and pitcher and the walls are decorated with signs advertising his favorites. An island bar made with rough hewn wood and a stainless sink separate the kitchen area from the lounge section. A big screen t.v. on the opposite wall had the game on and that end of the room was furnished with what looked like some pretty comfortable chairs and a couch. But we ended up standing around the bar during the whole visit drawing beers off the taps, talking shop and investigating the brewing operation and kegerator set up in the next room, where beer lines run from his corney kegs through the concrete wall to the taps. His brewing area is neat, organized and clean. A large cistern under the floor provides his cooling water which is pumped through a plate chiller and then circulated back to the cistern, conserving his supply and maintaining low temperatures. Barry says he brews extract kits that he orders from the states and is happy to continue with extract which prompted me to ask him about brewing some all-grain batches. Why change a good thing seems to be his attitude and judging by the quality of the beers he offered up I can't argue with him. I sampled three of the beers he had on tap and all were very good. A stout with rich flavors and full mouthfeel, a dunkelweizen that tasted of the classic malt and phenolic spice characteristics that make it one of my favorite styles and a brown ale that was equally good.
Barry for the most part has had to ship in all of his brewing equipment from the U.S. including a More Beer fermentor that is equipped with a chilling jacket that keeps his ales fermenting cool in spite of the high temperatures that are typical here in San Miguel. I suspect his cool fermentation practices have something to do with his extract brews having a fresh malt quality as I didn't detect any of those flavor components that I associate with extract use in beers.
Also, an impressive feature in the brewery was the wall rack that shelved dozens of bottles of Barry's home made wine. We didn't get into tasting the wine but based on the quality of the beer I suspect it's quite good.
Besides an avid homebrewer, Barry has been very involved in dog training, working specifically boarder collies, and has the awards and memorabilia displayed on walls of the lounge area to prove his skill.
It was great to be able to spend some time with another homebrewer down here and talk about what I'm so passionate about with another enthusiast. I'm looking forward to checking back in with Barry as more of his beers come out of the fermentor. In the mean time, I'll be keeping a look out for others down here that are taking on the task of brewing good beer in a climate that challenges the skills of the best brewers.
If you're a homebrewer in the vicinity of San Miguel I'd love to hear from you. Send me a note and let's see if we can meet and talk about beer and brewing in Mexico over a cold one. Cheers!