History of the Cervecería de Mexicali

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This company was founded in 1924 and has installed its factory and cellars in a large, attractive building made of wood faced with American cement, which gives it an appearance exactly like granite.

The latest advances in industrial chemistry and sterilzation have been incorporated into the manufacturing process of this beer, the raw materials of which are barley malt from the United States, hops from Bohemia, and rice from Mexico.

On the fourth floor of the brewery is a Columbia mill that crushes the rice and sends it to a blender. On the same floor is a machine that separates the chaff from the malted barley. The rice and barley grists are turned into a cauldron in which they are cooked briefly before being sent to another cauldron where they get a more thorough cooking; this mixture receives the hops, which are first cleaned by a Muller Improved machine. From the second cauldron the cooking is continued in a third, after which the liquid passes through a copper sieve in order to remove the suspended solids. Then the wort is pumped into a cooler also on the fourth [scil., third] floor. There the wort's temperature is lowered so that it can be sent to the fermentation tanks. The beer doesn't leave these tanks until it's been matured for four months.

The Olsen & Felgner barrel-washing machine is worth mentioning. This apparatus has a pump at one end that creates high pressure to squirt hot water inside the barrels. Then the barrels are carried on a pair of hooks to where they are tumbled by synchronized wheels and a set of horizontal and vertical brushes that clean the exterior of the barrels completely. An electric lamp is put inside each barrel to allow for a careful inspection.

When a barrel reaches the final section of the machine, its interior is given another shot of steam, which completes this first-rate washing system.

One cannot mention the Dunmore bottling machine, which washes, fills, and pasteurizes, without first praising its eficiency because its functions were designed in strict accordance with the most advanced hygienic, time-saving, and labor-saving principles.

In the first section of the machine, a single worker places empty bottles into racks. The machine then takes the bottles in the racks and passes them first through a bath of sodium hydroxide and then through a bath of pure water. From there the bottles are taken to a series of brushes and bristles that clean their interiors completely. They then go by conveyor belt to be filled with beer and, finally, to be pasteurized. The pasteurizer is made up of three vertical sections that put through fifty-four racks in an hour and forty-five minutes: this cleans the beer of any biological impurities it might contain.

The company provides jobs for thirty salaried employees (of which fifteen are Mexican) who work in eight-hour shifts and who receive between eight and eighteen pesos a day. All the workers enjoy invaluable insurance against job-related injuries.

So far, capital to the amount of Mex$475,000 has been invested in the Cervecería de Mexicali.

—Abelardo L. Rodríguez, 1928
Memoria Administrativa del Gobierno del Distrito Norte de la Baja California (1924-1927)

General Rodríguez (who owned the Cervecería Azteca, a competing brewery that began in 1924) was reporting in his Memoria on the growth of business during his adminstration as both the military and political governor of what would later become the state of Baja California. The general took special care to acknowledge both the presence of Mexican workers and the liberality of the wages.

The minimum wage then in effect for the Northern District was four pesos for eight hours of work: the brewery paid twice that. In the 1920s it was a sore point among Baja Californians that U.S. citizens occupied all of the non-menial jobs in their tourist industry, so getting half of the brewery jobs was quite an improvement.

Since a peso contained 0.02411 troy ounce of pure gold in those days, eight pesos would be worth about US$298 in current dollars; likewise, eighteen pesos equate to US$670 and the invested capital as reported would be some US$17,670,000.

We know from official records that the Cervecería de Mexicali, S.A., was really formed on 12 March 1923. Its partners were Miguel González, Albert Biner, Heraclio Ochoa, and Luis Marín; its opening capital amounted to Mex$150,000 and was increased to Mex$500,000 six months later.

According to the website belonging to Mexicali Beer's present incarnation, the Cervecería de Mexicali ceased operations in 1972. Around 1990, three local businessmen announced that they had purchased the original formula, set up a new brewery in Tecate on Avenida Juárez a couple of kilometers east of Plaza Hidalgo, and ran the operation rather like a hobby. They sold their operation to Coors about a decade later. Coors attempted unsuccessfully to spin it off in 2005 and remains the owner today.