Mexico’s beer scene has long been dominated by two major breweries, each pumping out gazillions of gallons of internationally famous session lagers, Corona and Modelo being the two flagship beers of each respective business.
But that’s starting to change as people are beginning to get a taste for something more flavourful. Mexican craft beer is well and truly on the rise in this country, and Guadalajara is one of the cities that’s leading the trend and kicking out some properly exquisite brews.
Having sampled as many of Guada’s real ale houses as we could, we’ve put together this list of bars that are taking the trend to new heights. So if you’re looking for the best Mexican craft beer bars in Guadalajara, you’ve come to the right place friend. Happy drinking.
El Puesto Ambulante
Juan Manuel #1562
44600 Guadalajara, Jalisco
This was by far our favourite Mexican craft beer bar in Guadalajara, and we stumbled on it by pure chance on our final night in the city. The owner and Master Brewer Abraham will run you through his tasting menu, telling you the inspiration behind all of the delicious beers on offer.
Everything here is created by him via his Ambulante brewery, and they also serve delicious looking food (unfortunately we’d just eaten so didn’t try it). Most beers are on draft but some are also in bottles if you want something to take away.
We were actually making our way home from a meal at one of Guada’s most famous restaurants (which holds the Guinness World record for the fastest service in the world, something they’re apparently more proud of than the substandard slop they churn out) when we saw El Puesto. The doors were wide open, they had a little music going on, and the sign outside read “Artesanal Beer”, something which always peaks our interest.
We wandered over and were immediately welcomed into the fold where we took seats at the tiny bar. Some might call it fate, we reckon we’ve got a nose for these things. What followed was a journey through some of the most delicious and interesting craft beer in Mexico that we’ve tasted.
The menu is reassuringly small and is made up of 3 “house beers” which are constantly available, plus 3 others which change continually and a further 2 trial type inclusions. The best way to sample them is with a taster sampler which consists of a small glass of the 6 main beers for $100MXN (£4GBP / $5.30USD) and ask Abraham to talk you through them. He’s really cool and clearly passionate about his brews.
We tried a beer inspired by the Day of the Dead which incorporated the flavours of a traditional bread that’s popular around the time of the celebration. There was also a pumpkin ale, an orange flower beer, and a mouth wateringly sour tepache beer which was sensational.
Come here for: The sensational Mexican craft beer on tap, lovingly crafted by the legenndary Abraham behind the bar. Expect a small bar with a local atmosphere and a friendly welcome.
44160 Guadalajara, Jalisco
One of Guadalajara’s more established Mexican craft beer bars, we were told about El Grillo by a few people so we knew it wasn’t to be missed. It’s got a few faces, with a relaxed outside bar on Chapultepec Avenue, a slightly grungy bar area with indie music playing and pub paraphernalia covering the walls, plus a small but more classy upstairs terrace-come-balcony.
There’s a small selection of Mexican craft beer on draft, but the largest part of the menu is around 50 bottled beers from across the country. There’s no food served here but it has an adjoined restaurant next door called La Nacional which offers decent if slightly pricey burgers and pizzas.
We came here on our first full night in Guadalajara as a few people had recommended it to us. We decided to eat at it’s sister restaurant which is adjoined on next door first, but were a little bit surprised that the extensive beer selection isn’t served in the restaurant for some reason. The food was reasonable but unremarkable and was slightly on the pricey side for what it was.
Once we’d eaten we headed next door which has a completely different atmosphere from the staid restaurant. We sat in the bar area which was pumping out a selection of indie classics and its low lit walls were decorated with beer mats from all around the globe.
They had a few local beers on tap, but the bulk of the menu is made up of bottles of Mexican craft beer from all over the country as well as some global offerings. Strangely enough despite this, many of the locals were pounding Coronas and Pacificos and completely ignoring the local craft beers. Each to their own.
The menu here is really well labelled so you know exactly what you’re getting before you order it, and the bar staff are knowledgable so will recommend a beer to suit your tastes if you want. Bottles cost around $60-90MXN (£2.50-£3.20GBP, $3.25-$4.30USD).
Come here for: Wide selection of bottles from across Mexico, a good bar atmosphere with lots of punters and a killer bowl of spicy nuts.
Av. Chapultepec 227
44160 Guadalajara, Jalisco
This is probably the most lifeless of the craft beer bars we visited in Guadalajara, however, it gains its place on the list thanks to its decent selection and awesome service. More of an after work crowd than people who are there for the beer, but it’s in a nice location on Chapultepec Avenue and has got a large outside space to the front which is pleasant to sit in.
They seem to be trying to catch-all with their beer menu which is made up entirely of bottled beers and sourced from all over the globe. There’s a food menu made up again of inoffensive but uninspiring pub fare which includes hamburgers, baguettes, sausages and fries.
Ambar has its name up in flashy stage lights over the door, but as they say, not all that sparkles is gold. That’s not to say that this bar is bad, and certainly nothing against the beer which is well sourced and varied. It’s just we prefer our bars with a little more life.
The menu has a slightly difficult to understand key which demonstrates the character of the beers. It consists of tiny pictures a bunch of hops and a beer glass, filled in to different degrees to demonstrate how much hops they contain, the colour of the beer and its body. Once you get the hang of it it’s actually quite informative but without looking properly you might miss it.
Beers range from standard American lagers to Belgian classics, and though they’re on there, there’s not a focus on Mexican craft beer because they’re not clearly labelled. The menu is instead separated into the style of beer, but the names are a decent clue as to which ones are Mexican and which ones aren’t.
The beers that we did sample were good, prices range between $50MXN to $70MXN (£2-£2.85GBP, $2.70-$3.80USD) to per bottle, and the service was outstanding. Sarah had a weird sediment suspended in her beer when it was poured from the bottle, but because we didn’t know anything about it we weren’t sure if it was correct or not.
We asked the waitress who informed us that it was completely normal for that particular beer, but if we weren’t happy with it then they’d exchange it right away no questions asked. If it’s meant to be there, it’s meant to be there, so it wasn’t an issue, but the offer of a swap if it was off putting was appreciated.
Come here for: Top quality service, a world beer approach and an after work meeting. Also El Grillo is just next door if you get a bit bored.
Patan Ale House
44160 Guadalajara, Jalisco
This place was another recommendation, this time from the guys we were staying with in our Airbnb, one of the great things about renting someone’s spare room. This place has more of a hipster vibe with 24 silver taps sticking out from white tiles on the wall behind the long bar, a dj booth with a sign that reads “I am not your f*cking iPod” and some cool stuff.
We really enjoyed this bar, even though we don’t run with the hipster set, and the drinks on offer here is purely made up of Mexican craft beer. It’s all on draft save for a single offering of a Mexican produced Red Flanders, which was a little out of our price range at 600MXN (£25GBP, $32USD). We didn’t eat here but were reliably informed that the food is really good, with a typically hipster menu with items ranging from Poutine to Cholesterol Attack Pizza.
Tucked away in an unassuming location, we almost walked right past this bar. The night we went it was one of the least busy places on a pretty popular street, some bars with queues outside to get in.
Fortunately we did a double take as we walked past and made our way in after realising that this was where we wanted to be. It’s got a kick ass selection of solely Mexican craft beers, all on tap.
The menu is well labelled, giving you a little bit about the style of beer, which city in Mexico it hails from, plus the brewery that makes it. You can order anything in one of three sizes, 475ml, 266ml or 147ml, but by far the best option is to go for a “Flight” of four beers of your choosing in the smaller size for a reasonable $99MXN (£4GBP, $5.31USD).
The beer here is really well looked after and you can get everything from double IPAs to fruit beers and anything in between. They also have a daily lunch deal where you can get a meal and a beer for a reduced price, plus an offer called Tap Tuesday where all their large glasses are just $65MXN (£2.60GBP, $3.50USD).
Inexplicably, though there are 24 taps, there were only 23 beers on the menu when we went, with number 18 missed off. I meant to ask what the reason behind it was but completely forgot in my blissed out state with four tasters of excellent Mexican craft beer in front of me. If you go and you get a chance to find out, please let me know in the comments what the reason behind it is as I’m still intrigued!
Come here for: Seriously good Mexican craft beer on tap, a trendy laid back atmosphere, and free popcorn with every round (I’m a popcorn addict so this matters). Top tip - avoid the member of staff in the green t-shirt, he dropped three full trays of flights while we were there. Bad one.
LaCer Laboratorio Cervecero
44600 Guadalajara, Jalisco
Less a bar, more a collective of breweries that have come together under one roof like a permanent beer festival, LaCer is a beautiful concept. Each brewery has their own separate stall with around 7 or 8 brewers peddling their wares in this huge space. Despite more resembling a metro station from the outside than a pub, inside is a different story and any beer lover will be as happy here as a pig in muck.
You could easily while away an entire evening doing a pretty epic pub crawl while simultaneously sitting at a single table. There are even a couple of restaurants tucked away towards the back so you could also grab your dinner while you're at it, the wood fired oven pizzas looked and smelt pretty enticing.
This place is like a battle of the bands but with breweries, where you cast your vote of support with the number of empty glasses you stack up from each one. At a guess I’d say there are potentially 100 beers available, so allow yourself at least two return visits to try them all. That, of course, is a joke.
Unless you down them all in one evening you’ve failed. I’m happy to report that we failed miserably, but what we did try was top quality. Prices ranged quite a lot here from bar to bar, but we paid around $60MXN (£2.40GBP, $3.25USD) for a draft beer which was around mid range.
Each miniature bar has its own schtick going on and sells only the tipples from its own brewery, so part of the fun is wandering around trying to narrow down what you’re going to have next. The bar staff we talked to really knew their stuff and were eager to recommend based on the kind of beers you usually go for.
This seemed like the home of Guadalajara’s of Mexican craft beer scene, and if you only have time to visit one place but want to try a wide selection of its finest beers then definitely put this top of your list.
Come here for: Beer feels, a broad array of the best Mexican craft beer on tap, and a festival-like atmosphere.
There are loads of artisanal and craft beer bars in Guadalajara, this is just the best of the ones the we tried. If you have any suggestions of any more which should be on here let us know what they're called in the comments and why they're worth a visit.