Bracino: Born of a Love for Beer

  Bracino beers 

When Daniel Cigarroa de la Rosa, 32, director and brewer of Monterrey’s Bracino Cervecería, gives a tour of the microbrewery’s installation, two things immediately stand out: the cleanliness of the facility and the man’s love of his craft. Six years ago, Cigarroa, a native of Guerrero and a Monterrey “son by adoption,” set off on an English vacation never imagining the trip would change his life.

Bracino logoBack then, the civil engineer’s only connection to beer was that he enjoyed drinking it. Early in the trip, he discovered that some London pubs brewed a house beer. He explored different pubs and their craft brews, so unlike mass-produced beers. He asked questions, curious as to how brewers produced such a range of flavors using the same few ingredients.

When the trip ended, Cigarroa went home and started reading. He kept asking questions. Before long, he was inviting friends over to try his homebrews. Some of the friends started learning from Cigarroa. They were twenty-something guys having fun. Their beers were well-received at parties and get-togethers with other friends who spread the word. Before long, Cigarroa and three buddies pooled $25,000 pesos ($1,900 dollars) to buy better equipment and larger quantities of raw materials.  

Bracino BeersIn September, 2012, a acquaintance who owned a bar, called wanting 60 liters (16 gallons) to see how the craft beer would sale. “Send me the invoice,” he said, and Cigarroa thought, “The invoice?” The beer sold well and the friends made a little money. Soon Cervecería Bracino had an accountant and was filing for sociedad anónima status as an incorporated business.

In the ensuing year and a half, Bracino and the partners have weathered the changes that come with growing a business. There are now six partners and 35 points of sale in places as far away as Mexico City and Tijuana. When I interviewed Cigarroa, they had just added the Monterrey Wal-Marts to their portfolio and expected to be in the Los Cabos market in two weeks.

After several years of working a full-time engineering job and brewing on the side, Cigarroa now works full-time at the small plant housed in an industrial area in suburban Santa Catarina. Two other partners work part-time. They currently produce four beers: English Pale Ale, Brown Ale, Blond Ale and their signature Becerro Stout (Young Bull). Bracino’s Facebook page stays active.  

Daniel Cigarroa and Hugo Patiño

Daniel Cigarroa and Hugo Patiño

Asked about challenges, Cigarroa cited two: heavy taxes and the difficulty of getting raw materials. Compared to the United States, Mexico’s craft brewing movement is still in the early stages. Many small breweries import most of their raw materials from the States.  Initially, Bracino purchased malt from a malting plant in the central Mexico state of Hidalgo, but brewing giant Modelo bought the company and ended sales to craft brewers. Cigarroa is trying to encourage owners of several other small breweries in the area to work together as far as placing a single, larger order when they use the same suppliers, thus procuring cheaper prices. So far, the results have been mixed.   

Today Bracino is brewing 4000 liters a month, and Cigarroa is still asking questions. My brewing consultant husband, Hugo Patiño, joined us for the interview. As we toured the facilities, the two brewers started a light discussion which turned increasingly complex regarding possible improvements at Bracino. (One example: an in-depth water analysis of the well water Bracino uses in its beer.)

Daniel Cigarroa and Teresa Flores

Daniel Cigarroa and Teresa Flores

Minutes later, the conversation was interrupted when Teresa Flores arrived. A Master’s student at the University of Monterrey, Flores was working with Bracino on a project that involved quality assessment and improvement.

My final question for Cigarroa was what he most enjoyed about the business. He immediately broke into a smile and replied, “The fun. I love beer festivals, the friends who come around wanting to drink our beer, the contact with new people.”

Cigarroa added a request that the blog post include, “Bracino has been successful thanks to all the employees and salespeople, especially my friends and business partners (who are the same), that have believed in this project and supported it, even becoming part of it.”

With Cigarroa’s attitude and work ethic, and the priority he puts on valuing others, Bracino appears to have the right ingredients for years of success.