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May 6, 2015

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Beers once exclusive to Mexico are crossing the border

Indio is entering the Las Vegas market this spring


Courtesy photo

Indio beer, brewed by Heineken-owned Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery, first came to a select group of U.S. markets in 2012, and now will be sold in stores in Las Vegas. The beer dates back to 1893, and the old label (left) has gotten a modern update.

There has been significant consolidation in the beer industry in the last decade, with once big name brands being gobbled up by a handful of now global corporations.

Some beer lovers have lamented changes to their once tried-and-true brews and the international nature of once beloved breweries. However, the consolidation has had some perks too, notably more beers are making it out of their home markets and entering new ones.

Take Indio for example. When I moved to Guadalajara, Mexico in 2001 I avoided Corona and Dos Equis, the Mexican beers widely distributed in the United States, and went straight for the cervezas available exclusively in Mexico. One of my first beers was Indio, a copper-colored amber beer with a little sweetness that is a welcome change from the golden lagers ubiquitous in Mexico. It became one of my go-to beers, and when I moved back to the United States two years later, Indio was one of the little things I missed the most.

Fast forward to 2010, and Indio is about to introduce itself to Las Vegas and other new U.S. markets. Heineken agreed to purchase the beer operations of beverage maker FEMSA, which included the Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery and its lineup of Sol, Tecate, Dos Equis, Bohemia, Carta Blanca and Indio.

Indio was first brewed in 1893 under its flagship brand, Cuauhtémoc beer. The label featured an Aztec emperor, and drinkers started asking for "the beer of the Indian." The beer was renamed Indio in 1905. Today, the old oil-painting-like image has been updated, and now the warrior is a striking emerald green color.

The beer, however, tastes the same as it did when I lasted tasted it over a decade ago - here is a review from USA Today's "Beer Man."

Indio first rolled out in the United States in 2012 in Chicago, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, Houston and San Antonio. Now, the beer will be available in Tucson, Phoenix and Las Vegas. Not surprisingly, the move is all about grabbing some of the coveted young adult demographic.

"One of the reasons why we brought Indio into the U.S. last year was that we saw a strong connection between the brand's consumers in Mexico and adult bicultural millennials in this country who are passionate about alternative art and music. Their similar lifestyles presented a great opportunity for us and our distributors to speak to one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. Hispanic population," said Felix Palau, vice president of marketing for Indio in a statement that pointed out the target demographic is Hispanic, bicultural 21 to 26 year olds.

In Las Vegas, Indio is sold at Food 4 Less, Cardenas, Marketon, La Bonita and Mariana's.

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