Updated: Feb 29
One of the things I missed in La Paz was nice local bars, and decent beer in general. Yes, the restaurants all sell beer, but it's mainly the really weak, tasteless lagers like Corona and Pacifico.
Places like Harker Board do sell some really good beers, like the Baja Brewing Company varieties, but they're few and far between.
We'd settled into Guadalajara for almost a week and decided we needed to explore our options. As Mrs Wench had been out and about close to Americana earlier in the day, I went to meet her and we hit the nearby hostelry Cervecería La Blanca. It started out well. And yes, we were 100% sober when we recorded this!:
Location and ambience
Cervecería La Blanca is on Calle Lope de Vega in Arcos Vallarta, just off Calle Manuel López Cotilla. It's a small venue accessed by an exterior flight of stairs to the first floor terrace.
The neighbourhood is leafy, green and quiet. The bar plays inoffensive background music at a level which makes the place feel alive, without getting in your face and making it impossible to hear yourself (or your drinking buddies).
Let's cut to the chase - what you really want to know about is the beer selection, right?. It's pretty good:
We asked the mesera what the different types were like, but our limited Spanish made this pretty difficult. We got that the Original had a hint of banana, but that was about it.
There was only one solution: try them all 😇
Back home in the UK, it's common if you're in a place that sells proper ale to ask for a taste of a few before you order. The bar staff will pour you a smidge, enough for a quick taste and swill for you and maybe a friend. As long as you're not taking the piss and trying to sample every beer on tap, most pubs are quite happy to oblige.
Not in Mexico. In Mexico City, La Paz, and here in GDL, the common approach is to offer a 'taster tray' or sampler:
Here the sampler of the 5 listed beers was MX$59/US$3.10. Helpfully they were laid out for us in the same order as the menu. As a bonus, the waitress also brought over a taste of the guest beer (cerveza de temporada).
Never ones to turn down a challenge, we heroically took one for the team. After 40 minutes or so of pure torture, working through the various glasses, we more or less agreed on a rating for each of them.
Ratings: How They Tasted
Guest Beer / Cerveza de Temporada
Sadly I forgot to ask what the name of this was! It had a nice rounded taste - malty with a hint of hoppiness. 4/5
There is, indeed, a hint of banana. I also found an slight metallic aftertaste. 3½/5
Oh Lord, now we're talking. This is a wonderful, strong, well-rounded beer which has a lovely malty tang. Perfect cold on a hot day, it's 6.3% of chewy Mexican nectar. 4½/5
Far too hoppy and fruity for me - definite citrus notes. I don't like this kind of beer. 2½/5
A strong and smooth stout taste. Bitter with hints of coffee and/or chocolate. I hate these stouts so gave it 2/5. Mrs Wench, on the other hand, loves them and rated it 4½/5. Different strokes and all that!
A delicate, musty weissbier. Very smooth, almost a whiff of vanilla to it? I wasn't that taken by it, but it's perfectly drinkable. 3½/5.
La Blanca is, first and foremost, a brewery. They make their own beer in the style of German Weissbier and Weizenbier under the supervision of their master brewer, who studied in Munich. All their offerings are varieties of white or wheat beer - hence the name, La Blanca.
If you don't speak Spanish, here's a translation from the La Blanca Facebook page:
"Located in Guadalajara, our brewery specializes in the production of wheat beers. This Weissbier style (in German "white beer") or also Weizenbier (in German "wheat beer") is a style of beer typical of the Bavarian region in southern Germany. It is characterized above all by being made not only with barley malt but with a high proportion of wheat malt, which gives it a characteristic whitish hue and therefore its name. La Blanca de México is a true Mexican Weissbier.
Made in Mexico by a true brewer, graduated from the prestigious Doemens Academy in Munich, our beer is made with German technology, imported malt and a special fresh yeast for this style."
Whatever they're doing, they're doing it right.
Cerveceria La Blanca is a small but lovely venue in the heart of Guadalajara. They make their own beer to high German standards, and it shows. These guys create really, really nice ales.
The staff are friendly and attentive, and service is good. One spoke good English, the rest didn't. It's not cheap, but neither is it stupidly expensive for what you're getting.
You wouldn't drink in here every night, but I don't think it'll let you down when you do pop round. Recommended.
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