Haze over Mexico City

Meet the brothers bringing craft to Mexico City


Home to a staggering 21 million people, Mexico City is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the world. Yet in 2016, it was a craft beer wasteland, with no independent breweries and only a handful of bars selling imported bottled beers. This seemed like madness to brothers Rodrigo and Ernesto Mora, who had experienced craft beer culture in other countries, and believed it could find a home in the Mexican capital.

That’s why in 2017 the pair quit their day jobs to open the city’s first tasting room – the ingeniously named Tasting Room – offering craft on keg and can for the first time. 

“Here in Mexico, can culture and keg culture were non-existent,” says Rodrigo. “So when we started, we used to import kegs from the United States. We were very familiar with US breweries and craft beer, so we were buying in Sierra Nevada, Stone, the old school west coast. We weren’t making any money, but it was great. We were also buying from Baja California, which is the north part of Mexico, really close to San Diego. Those guys were already making beer a long time before us.”

Fully committed, and with the bar doing well, moving into brewing themselves was a logical next step. Ernesto had previously worked as a brewer, and their passion for North American beer had given them a good idea of where they wanted to go. Their first steps, however, weren’t entirely smooth.

“Our first brews were a lager and an IPA and they were… not cool,” continues Rodrigo with a laugh. “But then it happens that we met this brewery from California, called Humble Sea, and we went there to do some collaboration, so that’s really where we learned to make these incredible hazy IPAs. Nobody was making these beers in Mexico at the time; you could get Other Half, Finback, even Cloudwater, but nobody was making it fresh and local.”

Returning to Mexico City, Ernesto and Rodrigo set to work putting what they had learned into practice on a tiny 100-litre kit in their mum’s garage. 

“The thing was that we already had our own taproom, so these small batches of very fresh beer started selling out in a day or two, and word got round, and people started noticing us. Because we did a really good job with the beer.

“So then we had to make a decision: do we have an army of these little 100-litre fermenters, or do we scale everything up. So at the start of 2020, we bought our first proper brewhouse and three 1500-litre fermenters.”

Timing-wise, this looks like a disaster. No sooner was the new kit installed and the first brew in the tank, than the world entered the long months of Covid lockdown. For Morenos though, it was a strange kind of blessing; while the brothers’ beloved taproom was forced to temporarily shut, a lot of the macro breweries halted production completely. Suddenly, Morenos was one of the only sources of beer in town, and was producing the kind of high-quality canned beer that might otherwise have struggled to gain traction in a macro-dominated landscape. It was an overnight phenomenon.

Rodrigo says: “We had to buy another 1500-litre fermenter, then a 4000-litre just in that first year 2020/2021. It was an absolutely crazy time. My brother was brewing round the clock, and I was managing the online shop, and we were just trying to get all this beer packaged and out.”

Morenos managed to keep this momentum up coming out of lockdown, and in 2023/2024 added another 4000-litre tank and two 7000-litres. The course that was set by the brothers’ fateful visit to Humble Sea has held firm, and around 80% of its current volume is still juicy, fruity, aromatic hazy IPA.

There is a palpable yearning to develop the brewing further though, and Rodrigo confirms Morenos will be coming back around to its early lager experiments, with a lot more experience under the belt. The only reason it has taken so long is that, with demand for its juice-bombs so high, the relative expense of brewing a quality lager makes it feel like a bit of a self-indulgence.

It also has big plans on the hospitality side, with a second taproom location and a significant expansion of the original Tasting Room site in Colonia Roma, one of Mexico City’s trendiest districts. This will involve a step-up in its already excellent food menu (we’re promised a fusion of Mexican and Italian cuisine), the addition of a bottle shop, and the construction of a spectacular new rooftop terrace.

“There’s so much we want to do with the bars, which is after all where we started,” says Rodrigo. “For example, we’re working on our beer cocktails; we have an amazing girl over here called Claudia who uses beer, but not in an obvious, lazy way. She’ll decarbonate the beer and make it into cordials, so it’s almost like bitters – it’s really creative.”

As for the wider craft scene in Mexico city, it’s still tiny, but growing. Morenos is by far the most developed, but there are green shoots of independent brewing peeping through, with a clutch of much smaller outfits now taking the first steps toward proper commercialisation. It feels like a tremendous opportunity, especially with a brewery as accomplished as Moreno beating a path for them.

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