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Wednesday, October 4, 2023

For the love of beer, the story of Thodes and Yucatán’s booming microbrew scene

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.

The beer scene in Yucatán has undergone some major changes over the past decade. Once under the control of a couple of major corporations worth billions, new breweries ranging from midsize companies to “mom and pop” operations seem to be springing up all over.

While in the not-so-distant days of early microbrewing in Yucatán, there was still much room for improvement, a handful of enthusiastic upstarts sure seem to be ramping up the quality and competition. 

One of these new generations of breweries is Thodes, led by the husband-and-wife team of César Sosa Solis and Malena Serrano. 

Experimentation is a big part of what makes a brewery great, so Cesar and Malena are always on the lookout for their next big breakthrough. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The dream began just over five years ago when Cesar was playing video games with his friends and lamenting the lack of more interesting choices of beer on the local market.

Being a fan of cooking and experimentation, Cesar decided to purchase a basic brewing kit online, which he quickly outgrew. 

“I was really enjoying experimenting with the brewing kit, but quickly realized that if I wanted to create something really worthwhile, I would have to invest a good deal of time and more money into it,” recalls Cesar. 

Malena is hard at work stirring ingredients together for Thodes’ next batch. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

With bonuses from their day jobs, Cesar and Malena began to invest more heavily into the goal of owning and operating their own brewery.

Around the same time, the couple noticed a growing demand for branded microbrews at restaurants and bars in Mérida, but also markets like Izamal, Cancún, and Playa del Carmen. 

“Distribution has, from the beginning, been one of our biggest hurdles, so creating craft beers for sale at established businesses made a lot of sense to us,” said Malena, who now takes care of day-to-day business operations. 

Thodes produces and sells five lines of beers ranging from fruity to bitter and even spicy. 

Thodes’ Phelddagrif Jamaica Ale is refreshing and perfect for particularly hot days, with or without a spicy rim. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

But the duo and their handful of employees are always up for experimentation in search of their next breakthrough brew.   

“Brewing beer is no simple process, but other than care and love, the result has everything to do with the quality of your ingredients, be it the yeast or choice of flavorings like chocolate, chilies or passionfruit,” he says.

Another aspect that makes Thodes stand apart from its competitors is its creative branding, based on mythological creatures from cultures such as the Norse and more than a dash of Dungeons and Dragons-style fantasy. 

The brand’s most popular varieties include their excellent Session IPA as well as their full-bodied Imperial Stout. 

Cesar and Malena share knowledge with other up-and-coming breweries on the Peninsula, as they see the success of one as a win for all.

Thodes has won eight national brewing awards, and more are sure to come. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“Let’s be realistic. We have the capacity to produce about 2,000 liters a month. In the grand scheme of things, that is nothing to the likes of Grupo Modelo or Heineken, but to us, it means the world. A big part of what we are trying to do is create a market where choice is not limited to whatever you happen to find in an OXXO,” said Cesar.  

But despite their emphasis on quality, the folks at Thodes do not take themselves so seriously to the point of being purists.

“You can get a beer at the convenience store for 20 pesos or so, and our beers are 60 pesos and over. We know very few people drink microbrews exclusively, and that’s ok… There is nothing wrong with kicking back one or two artisanal beers before switching to an Indio or Pacifico. At the end of the day, it’s all about drinking what you enjoy,” says Malena. 

Thodes beer can be found at several specialty beer stores in Mérida as well as restaurants and bars, including Bird in Centro and El Garage in Fraccionamiento Las Americas. Place orders directly by calling +52 991-118-8979 or email quiero@thodes.beer.

Web: https://thodes.beer
Instagram: @thodes.brewery

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