The world is having a love affair with Oaxaca. And what’s not to love? It’s an incredibly vibrant city with young and hip locals, is Mexico’s mezcal capital, and boasts one of the country’s most interesting food scenes. Oh, and then there’s Oaxaca craft beer.

Despite the notoriety of its mezcal scene, Oaxaca’s craft beer community is growing quickly in tandem. In fact, beer is often consumed alongside mezcal and is always to blame for the next morning’s headache as locals insist that it’s impossible to get a hangover from mezcal alone (a claim I greatly dispute).

Oaxaca is a town where art is everywhere and artisans reign supreme. It’s no wonder that regional tastes have begun to shift from light and familiar big beer offerings to small batches of cerveza artesanal made with incredible skill and care. Though dive bars and saloon style spots are still as popular as ever offering a more traditional experience, like beer by the bucket, hipster hangouts are popping up at an unprecedented pace. I wrote a piece on Mexico’s beer industry last year, and it’s exciting to see all of the changes only a year later.

Oaxaca Craft Beer Guide

Oaxaca Breweries

Oaxaca Craft Beer - Santisima Flor de Lupolo
Oaxaca Craft Beer - La Santisima Flor de Lupolo
Oaxaca Craft Beer - Santisima Flor de Lupulo

Santísima Flor de Lupolo

This self-described nano brewery is impressive. Not only because of the minuscule size of its operation but the quality of beer it churns out. The tap room is dominated by a long wooden bar where most customers congregate, while the high ceilings make the small space feel anything but claustrophobic. A rotating trio of beers are on tap in limited quantities – popular brews sell out quickly – spanning an array of styles like a hazy Guava Wit, a double hopped Pale Ale, and a surprisingly sessionable Black IPA to name a few. You’ll probably run into Jorge, the enthusiastic master brewer, whose energy is contagious. Tell him I say hi.

Tierra Blanca

It’s hard not to love Tierra Blanca at first sight with its beautifully sleek bottles and super trendy tap room. But luckily they also deliver on the beer front. Principle beers include the orange forward Wit Bier Tierra Blanca, Tierra Grana a hibiscus-infused Red Ale, and smoky Stout Tierra Ahumada. Clearly a Oaxacan craft brewery through and through with a focus on incorporating local ingredients and recommended food pairings like mole and chapulines (toasted grasshoppers). A visit to Tierra Blanca’s tap room on Martires de Tacubaya is prudent for any Oaxaca craft beer enthusiast, where you can taste a variety of one-off and experimental brews alongside a healthy offering of cervezas artesanales from around Mexico.

Oaxaca Craft Beer - Consejo Cervecero
Oaxaca Craft Beer - Consejo Cervecero
Oaxaca Craft Beer - Consejo Cervecero

Consejo Cervecero

You can find Consejo Cervecero‘s two flagship brews all around Oaxaca. The always popular Rey Oh! Baby APA and Boy Stout Oatmeal Stout (both are puns that I wish someone would explain to me) are available all over town in bottle and in a select few establishment by draft. But to really get a feel for the beers they’re producing, head to their taproom in the local neighbourhood of Reforma. Grab a seat at one of the picnic tables in the small beer garden and sample the range of Consejo Cervecero’s beers that aren’t available elsewhere. The team that runs the brewery are quite possibly the loveliest human beings I’ve ever come across, so you’re in good hands.

Cervecería Teufel

A hybrid brewery focusing on German recipes, Teufel means ‘devil’ in German, Cervecería Teufel still goes out of its way to feature traditional Oaxacan flavours. Brewing since 2011, Teufel was one of the first players to make craft beer in Oaxaca, and today offers five mainstay beers that are sold in bottles, including their Bolaoru APA made with Oaxacan purple corn and Portfirio, a Mezcal Porter. While Teufel doesn’t have a physical location, you can find their beer in  local restaurants and bottle shops throughout Oaxaca as well as in shops further afield, including in Guadalajara, Mexico City, and Monterrey.

Oaxaca Craft Beer Bars & Restaurants

Oaxaca Craft Beer - La Mezcalarita
Oaxaca Craft Beer - La Mezcalarita

La Mezcalerita

If you’re interested at all in craft beer or mezcal, you need to stop in at La Mezcalarita. Inside is reminiscent of an authentic mezcaleria with faded colored walls and tiled tables, while a large rooftop patio offers splendid views of this more subdued part of town. A large fridge holds dozens of craft beer brands from around Mexico, including a good selection of Oaxaca craft beer. If you get carried away by the choice, grab a few bottles to take with you. And if you haven’t tried pulque, the ultra traditional beverage that’s making a comeback, you can give it a try here too. La Mezcalarita also does some delicious Oaxacan food with daily specials.

El Destilado

El Destilado is, without a doubt, one of the best dining experiences in Oaxaca. It’s the type of spot that wouldn’t be out of place in any large city and that you’d make your local without hesitation. Completely unpretentious and totally approachable, the restaurant, helmed by three American expats, features traditional Mexican dishes with a contemporary twist. Though the menu is rejigged often to focus on what’s in season, I’ve enjoyed the Guacamole (with an unexpected dynamite combo of sweet potato and peanuts), the Pumpkin Ravioli (sublime!) and one of the only moles that I yearned for seconds of. But El Destilado makes this list because of its selection of craft beers from around the country, all listed by state, including Insurgentes from Tijuana and La Chingonería from Mexico City.

Tabeerna Los Inmortales

You know a place is legit when they’ve managed to sneak ‘beer’ into their name. This beer-bar-bottle-shop combo is located on the southern edge of the city centre, and though may not appear as polished as some of the other spots on this list, it’s a hidden gem for craft beer lovers in Oaxaca. While you will find the local breweries well represented, there’s also a broad range of Mexican craft brewers like Cerveza 8 Regiones, Santa Holodia and Cervezas 19 Norte. The staff are cool and can guide you to some of the more interesting beers on offer, and I’ve always found unique beers at Los Inmortales that I haven’t seen elsewhere in Oaxaca. Pop a cap or two while digging into a burger or grab a bunch to take with you to try later.

Oaxaca Craft Beer - La Gourmand
Oaxaca Craft Beer - La Gourmand

La Gourmand

La Gourmand is a deli-restaurant that’s attached to La Santísimia Flor de Lupolo with the servers often going between the two to grab food and craft beer. If you’re looking to try beer from the brewery (it’s not bottled so it’s only available on site) and you arrive before it opens at 4, grab a seat in La Gourmand. There’s also a wide selection of other cervezas artesanales from around the country so it’s an ideal spot for a DIY Mexican craft beer tour. The deli serves up amazing sandwiches on freshly baked breads and a meat and cheese board that I’m still dreaming about. Bonus: if you’re having a beer in the brewery, you can order food from La Gourmand. It’s a match made in beer-carb heaven.

Zandunga

Zandunga is a vibrant restaurant with wonderful food and a decent selection of craft beer from Oaxaca and beyond. Though the (drinkable) star of Zandunga is clearly mezcal (the cocktails are dope!), it does have one of the better craft beer selections on offer at a Oaxacan restaurant. Their beer list (with both draft and bottles available) includes a strong Oaxaca craft beer showing: La Juquileña, Tierra Blanca and Consejo Cervecero. The food, a regional niche of Oaxacan cuisine from Tehuantepec, is hearty and delicious with unmissable dishes like the Garnaches (corn tortillas topped with beef), Molotes de Platano (plantains with crema fresca) and Cochito Horneado (super tender stewed pork). As if it couldn’t get any better, the service at Zandunga is excellent (my favorite waiter always compliments my rudimentary Spanish!).

Honorable Mentions: Pal Dolor (artisanal mezcal and cocktails on a hip rooftop patio with a few craft beer options), Casa Oaxaca (easily one of the city’s top restaurants with a selection of Oaxaca craft beer by the bottle), La Biznaga (traditional cuisine with Consejo Cervecero on tap).

Bottle Shops

Capitela

An excellent beer store on a small street in Reforma that’s the perfect place to peruse all the craft beer available in Oaxaca. You can find a nice mix of regional Mexican craft beer and American breweries here, and helpful staff to point you in the right direction.

Beer Company Oaxaca

The Beer Company is a franchised chain throughout Mexico but most locations are independently owned and operated. While in Oaxaca, I visited the Beer Company in Reforma often to stock up on interesting and obscure Mexican craft beers. The small street-side shop has a few tables, where locals like to gather to watch their national soccer team in action.

Craft beer is definitely on the upswing in Oaxaca and things change so quickly. I find more craft options at more bars and restaurants every time I visit. If you have a great Oaxaca craft beer spot that’s not included here, let me know and I’ll add it. Do it for the good beer karma!

Oaxaca Craft Beer Guide
Article by Lauren Barth // Photos by JP Bervoets