Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cuautemoc Moctezuma Brewery Tour

A little brewery tour back-tracking here.

Because our flight back to the states this year was out of Guadalajara, Mexico. we decided to spend a few days checking out this colossal city and part of that exploration for me was a tour of one of the brewing facilities of the second largest brewery in Mexico, Cerveceria Cuautemoc Moctezuma.

The makers of such popular light lagers as Dos Equis, Sol, Indio, Bohemia (my personal favorite), Tecate and many others, Moctezuma takes second place behind Modelo in beer sales and popularity (Moctezuma and Modelo are kind of like the Coors and Budweizer of Mexico). Moctezuma is the result of a old merger between Cuautemoc and Moctezuma, and combined, operate six large scale breweries in several states in the country including Guadalajara, where they primarily pump out Dos Equis (light and dark). I understand that they were recently bought out by Heineken.

Traveling by taxi through the run down and heavily graffiti'd urban streets of Guadalajara, I arrived at the front gates of this huge factory and got a couple pictures of the exterior before being met by their spokesman and tour guide. Because the brewery was mostly shut down for the religious holiday 'Semana Santa' for the week, they were not open to the public. However, with the help of Susan's excellent spanish to sympathetically translate my desperate pleading over the phone, I was granted the privilege of a private tour of the facility. Unfortunately, as I entered, my camera was confiscated at the front desk by the security guard, something about stealing trade secrets was what I overheard and was able to interpret with my limited Spanish. Consequently, I have no pictures of the interior of the plant except the one my tour guide took of me in front of the stainless steel boil kettles.

I can't be held responsible for the quality of this picture, my guide took it!

I've been on tours of large breweries before and this one, like the others, was impressive simply because of the grand scale of the operation. But I space out trying to comprehend the vastness of ginormous production plants like this. It simply overwhelms me. Looking around, I generally understood the enormous equipment used, the boil kettles, lauter tuns, etc. but was again amazed and confused by the abundant and seemingly endless stretches of oversized stainless steel pipes coming from and leading back to who knows where.

Leaving the main brewing room, we spent a little time in the bottling facility watching miles of conveyor belts shuttle thousands of bottles. Next to this was the bottle cleaning machine. In Mexico, deposits are paid on the bottles and most beer bottles are returned to the retailer after consumption. They are then returned to the bottling plant where they get cleaned, sanitized and refilled. Because of this, it's difficult for homebrewers to accumulate bottles for their own use. As we stood watching from an elevated platform with the high pitched grinding of gears and clattering bottles my guide explained important information. It was difficult to understand what he was saying to me as he competed with the loud machines. I couldn't hear over the noise, I just nodded.

The tour ended quickly and I was anxious to get to the sampling. He led me to an outdoor picnic area that was shaded with huge canopies with Tecate printed across the top. A stand up refrigerator stood behind a worn plywood bar. beside this was a wall mounted display case with the many different labels of beers. I was about to write many different 'styles' of beer but there are really only two styles found at Moctezuma, light or dark lager. In any case I noticed a bottle of bock but was quickly told that that was a seasonal beer of limited supply and not available now.
I looked through the assortment.

"Bohemia?" I asked.


Then I noticed and asked about the Superior brand but again, no, that is an export which you can get in the U.S.

"How about a Dos Equis?" he asked.

"Sure." I replied.

"O.K., light or dark?"


Anonymous said...

Is that a beer ransom bomb you have straped on there?

Carlos Soberman said...

I'm sure with your eagle eyes you managed to steal all their trade secrets, even without the aid of your camera. Now you can brew the same kind of swill at home - in the unlikely event you would want to. Greetings from rainy Detroit.
Carlos y Linda

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