I have a soft spot in my heart for anyone who inspires fond memories of my youth. While my grandmother gave me drumsticks and ginger-ale, Tijuana provided me with grain alcohol and fireworks. When I first got wind of the TJ Beer Fest I had an image of tacos and beer, a solid combination for any Saturday. The decision was made to attend.
There were three of us: Ryan, partner in crime at West Coaster, Vlad, trusted associate from college days past, and myself. We crossed the border and arrived at the entrance of the event at around 11:30. The guy at the entrance said it would be open soon, so we ventured down La Revu in search of my favorite beer pairing combo of tacos & Coronas.
We found ourselves perched up on the balcony of restaurant/disco El Torito. With a view of the entrance of the festival, we waited. One hour turned into two as one corona turned into three. No pasa nada. Eventually, we noticed a line of people forming. We made our entrance.
100 pesos later I was armed with a wristband, 3 tasters, and a very cool shaker glass. Soon after, the distinct handle-bar mustache of San Diego Beer Blog / West Coaster writer Jeff Hammett caught my eye , as did the eccentric hair of the Linkery’s Jay Porter. Their crew had ridden bicycles from North Park to the festival, and I was impressed – it was hot as hell. We began our assault.
My first beer was Cucapá’s Imperial Stout. Perhaps it was a bad starting beer, but I was so surprised to find a local Imperial Stout in Tijuana that I did not care. It was a delicious effort that was smooth, lightly carbonated with subtle hints of burnt chocolate. After a taster I opted for a pint, which, at $3, was a steal.
Cerveza Tijuana’s Güera (blond) , which is touted as a “Bohemian Pilsener,” hit the spot with a lightly bitter flavor, hints of yeast, medium carbonation, and 4.6% ABU.
My favorite beer, and last taster ticket, was brought to me by a guy that’s known as Chubuki in the TJ beer circle. He said he’d driven his beer up from somewhere south, and wanted me to try it because it was delicious. I love a good salesman. He took me over to the Zona Norte tent where he had his jockey box and poured me a pint of his Chubrewski. From behind a broken pair of euro-stunna shades he continued: “Yeah man it’s like a really good beer for being in the sun, drinking on the beach ,stuff like that you know?” Totally. The taste was weird, but fantastic. I called it an amber–sour. “Yeah, I’ll use that from now on I think.”
I also stopped by The Beer Box tent, which is Mexico’s premiere shop for craft beer. They sold taster flight holders, had a beer on tap (which I didn’t get to try), and were stand-up dudes. Their website is fantastically 90’s in hilarious Spanglish, and it also totes an eclectic mix of beer that you can order on-line.
My tickets and pesos spent, I kicked back while taking in the scene. On the stage, the relaxed Tijuana version of Rage Against the Machine played while I was munching on (another) taco. Soon, the sun began to set on the festival and our time in Tijuana. Well-fed and slightly buzzed, we made our way to the border.