Cerveceria Tijuana is the oldest craft brewery in the city, located just south of downtown with a focus on German and Czech style lagers and was the first stop on Saturday’s Turista Libre Tijuana Craft Beer Tour. After a quick brewery tour we settled into the pub which is adorned with solid wooden tables and ornamentation on the walls and stained glass windows creating the atmosphere of a continental pub. All six of their beers were sampled, Bronca Pilsner, Guera Pilsner, TJ Light Lager, Morena Dark Lager, Brava Dark Lager, and Bufadora Doppelbock. All were good examples of their style, perfect for warm days and long drinking sessions, but maybe a little light for the palates of those used to American craft beer. No one seemed to have complaints though, and Bufadora and Brava seemed to be the most favored among those I talked to.
After Cerveceria Tijuana we boarded the bus and headed back downtown for street side lunch served out of a converted bus at Tacos Los Perrones before boarding the bus to head to Via Corporativo, the first LEED certified building in the region for a tasting with Cerveceria Insurgente.
Started by two brothers, with Cerveceria Insurgente they want to revolutionize the palates of the people, many of whom have never had a beer not made by Grupo Modelo or Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma – the two largest brewers in Mexico that have a near duopoly on the beer market. Tiniebla, their Belgian-style wit was well spiced with coriander and orange peel, making for nice citrusy and creamy beer. Insurgente Brown, a 5% ABV Brown ale was a bit flat and didn’t stand out as much to me, but many people liked it and purchased bottles to take home that the brewers assured us were properly carbonated. Insurgente’s third offering, an IPA called La Lupulosa meaning “The Hoppy One” made up for any complaints about the previous beer. Brewed with five hops (Cascade, Centennial, Nelson, Warrior and Amarillo) La Lupulosa had a great aroma and flavor with a bitter punch to the taste buds. This is the kind of beer that those used to drinking Mexican lagers will need to work their way up to, but it easily pleased many of us used to hoppy West Coast style IPA’s.
For our fourth stop we visited The Beer Box, Tijuana’s first craft beer store where we sampled some beers from local homebrewers and commercial beers from other parts of Mexico and many people purchased bottles to take home with them.
For our last stop we headed back downtown to the hip Calle Sexta (Sixth Street) and La Chupiteria for a tasting with Cerveceria Zesde. The brewers who are all under 21 wouldn’t be able to legally drink a beer in a bar in the United States got their start just six months ago and that seemed apparent with their first beer, DasFalco IPA. It had plenty of bitterness, but not much flavor to balance things out. Their next two beers Vanilla Sky Stout and Strawberry Fields Ale were better. The stout had plenty of chocolate and vanilla sweetness with roasted malt to balance things out while the strawberry ale had a strawberry sweetness that wasn’t overpowering (although it did get a bit too sweet for me as it warmed up).
Note: I consulted with Turista Libre on what breweries we should visit in Tijuana and helped promote the event.
Photos by Kinsee Morlan and Jeff Hammett