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How did a Canadian end up in the Riviera Maya and start brewing beer?
This week I’m happy to interview local business owner, Jungle John of the Mundo Maya Brewing Company. John moved to Playa del Carmen in 1994. Having run a few small startups he eventually decided to move on. But in time, John combined his long-time hobby, the lack of good craft beer in the region, and the now craft brew craze sweeping North America to fuel his return to Playa del Carmen.
Of all the places in Mexico, why did John choose to start brewing beer in Playa del Carmen?
There are a number of markets in Mexico that would be receptive to craft beer. However, the great beaches, amazing weather, and the development of Playa del Carmen made returning to open his microbrewery an easy decision. As one of the pioneering Gringos of the area, John has seen a growth in not only expats and international residents, but an influx of Mexican nationals who appreciate the cultural diversity. This makes for a perfect small market for craft beer.
With now a steady customer base, and expanding locations offering his beers, John went from brewing his first batch in 2012 (the year of the Mayan prophecy), to forming an association of local brewers.
How easy is it to procure the equipment required to start a microbrewery in Mexico?
When John got his start, there were few resources available to set up a microbrewery. Though there are now companies in Northern Mexico that sell the equipment, ordering and shipping parts is still very much an arduous process. John skirted all of these obstacles when he took it upon himself to drive from Toronto to North Carolina to procure the parts required to get started. Having then assembled his equipment in Canada, he drove everything to Miami for shipment to its final destination of Puerto Morelos, Mexico.
What are the varieties of beer that Mundo Maya is currently brewing?
John is now brewing four styles of beer; Vienna Lager, a malt-forward, sweeter beer, that’s very popular in Mexico, an IPA (Indian Pale Ale), an Oatmeal Stout, and finally an American-style Wheat beer.
Mundo Maya has recently opened a draft bar in Mateo’s Mexican Grill in Tulum. This provides an exciting chance to create small-batch, one-off, seasonal beers. This relationship with Mateo’s enables John the opportunity to showcase his abilities with their latest creation – an infused beer using the local fruit, mamey.
Though John does most of the work himself, he occasionally hires a bottle washer and helper with cleaning and other odd jobs. Aside from Roberta Satangelo, his partner and part owner who initially helped with sales and getting the business going, John is still largely a one-man operation.
John’s favorite parts of Mexico (other than Playa del Carmen!)
Playa del Carmen is by far John’s #1 place to be. Like his hometown of Toronto, he finds there is plenty of diversity in people, restaurants, and culture. John continues to enjoy simply having a cold beer on the beach and watching the people relax and have fun.
For a quick getaway, it’s easy for him to travel to Chiapas, Oaxaca by truck or plane.
John’s secret spot.
Chamico’s a great, quiet escape from Playa del Carmen. A rustic, Mayan family-run hut on the beach sporting a few plastic tables and chairs, Chamico’s a great place for some cold beers, ceviche with lobster, open hammocks and a chill vibe that reminds John of the Playa del Carmen, 20 years ago.
Where can you find a Mundo Maya beer?
Mahekal beach bar
Casa de Agua
Mateo’s Mexican Grill
Playa del Carmen https://www.locogringo.com/mexico/vacation-destinations/riviera-maya/playa-del-carmen/
Mundo Maya Brewing Company http://mundomayabrewingcompany.com/mundomaya/about-us/
Mateo’s Mexican Grill in Tulum http://www.mateosmexicangrill.us/
Mundo Maya on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/mundomayabrewing/
Kay’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Loco Gringo Website http://www.locogringo.com/
Bobby in NJ https://www.youtube.com/user/BobbyFromNJ
El Hongo http://www.el-hongo.com/info.html