I went to Playa del Carmen’s “La Quinta” specifically looking for craft beer, my plan was to buy a few bottles and bring them back to my resort and drink them there. I had researched and found two potential locations; Club de la Cerveza and TNT Bar and Beer Store. My search for Mexican craft beer in Mexico was in full force and I was determined to find something I could drink. Armed with just names and no addresses I walked aimlessly around the strip hunting for anything beer.
After walking in numerous stores that had “beer” signs I never found either of the places. So I sat outside of a souvenir shop feeling defeated with an overpriced bottle of water in my hand, poised to give up and go home. We decided to just head back and after walking just ten feet a Delirium Tremens pink elephant caught my eye. I turned to look and like Pepe Le Pew I was swept away into a blissful trance of craft beer. There was only one problem, it was closed. Here I was at noon looking for a beer and a snack and they didn’t open for another four hours. I took a few pictures and left feeling utterly defeated like the Mets in the 2000 World Series.
I did manage to go back another day to buy packaged goods with only minutes to spare before I boarded the last bus back to my resort, there was only one problem, they didn’t sell packaged goods. Strike two!
Last night in Mexico before heading back to the states, I took a taxi to the bar determined to have some Mexican craft beer.
Finally a Drink!
Walking up to the bar you are surrounded by locals and tourists drinking under dimly lit tables enjoying craft beer in a calm, friendly atmosphere. The patio’s backdrop is the bar, a dimly lit wood clad everything, beer signs a plenty and a wide array of beer glasses overhead. The bar makes you feel instantly comfortable, in that I’ve been here before kind of way.
My first beer was Cucapa Runaway IPA
I normally do not like to talk to the owners of businesses I intend to write about because I don’t like to feel obligated to praise a place, I made an exception in this case because I liked the place so much. I was happy to talk to Miguel and hear about the bar’s three year tenure and some of the other beers he likes but can’t get or likes but can’t get in good enough quality to be sold in the bar. He was honest with me about his beer selection and recommend only two beers, one that I was already drinking and another stout, so I did.
Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout
Everywhere you look you are surrounded by craft beer stuff. BeerAdvocate, Draft and Zymurgy magazines line the wall in front of the bar along with tons of empty bottles and cans of quality craft beer. Ornate lanterns hang from the ceiling and brick walls accent the wooden built ins cabinets. This place looks the part and in decor, can stand toe to toe with most bars here in the states.
So what about the beer?
I only had two bottled beers and sampled two beers on tap, Akumal Pale Ale and Mundo Maya IPA both of which were served too warm for the style, good thing it was only a taste, I would have hated to send back a beer in a foreign country for being too warm. Out of the the two, I enjoyed the Mundo Maya since it had more of the typical American IPA traits while the Akumal was more of a sessionable German take on a Pale Ale. (side note: I had Mundo Maya at Soy Cerveza Beer fest and it was better as the hops were more vibrant and it was less malty)
The Calavera Mexican Imperial Stout was the best of the bottled lot, it was right on style and had enough going on that made me respect the beer. Coffee, spicey, roasty notes big in this beer, slightly thinner than I would have liked but I am in Mexico and probably don’t want a beer that finished at 1.025 OG coating my tongue like motor oil. The Cucapa Runaway IPA was a respectable IPA that’s more on the malty side but does a good enough job to stay true to the style.
The bottle selection was extensive and they have a very large menu of beers that give very good detail of the beers. Looking through the menu probably took longer than drinking the beers though but that’s a good thing.
For anyone in the Playa del Carmen area this is a MUST STOP! As I told Miguel, there is literally no craft beer for miles and miles and miles and then you have this gem of a bar. If I lived in this area, this would more than likely be my living room as all I needed would be here. This is a fantastic bar set amongst a vast sea of craft beer emptiness and instead of being just a mediocre bar, it elevates the stakes and makes it the craft beer destination of Playa del Carmen.
PS I found TNT and they don’t sell craft beer, at least not on the day I was there.