The Rise of Baja Beer
Baja is quickly becoming the Mexican mecca for beer
BCB Tasting Room in Tijuana | Photo by Luis Garcia
Baja Beer Events
Expo Cerveza Artesanal
Tijuana, June 3–4
Rosarito Beer Fest
Late September–early October
Mexicali Beer Fest
Ensenada Beer Fest
Baja California’s craft brewery count currently weighs in at 80-plus, and more than half of those are in Tijuana. At least five official festivals attract thousands annually, and the state’s three clubs of homebrewers boast about 300 members altogether. With numbers like that, and local labels filling the menus at top restaurants and bars from Monterrey to Mexico City, the country’s northernmost state can confidently call itself a homeland for cerveza artesanal.
Baja leads the nation in quality and production, says Pepe Estrada, president of the Baja Brewers Association, a union that gives local brewers resources for increasing their presence and distribution over some major territory. Nine exporters currently operate within the state, and exportation is constantly on the rise.
The Instituto Tecnológico de Tijuana held its first professional training program in brewing technology in March, the first students of which were the U.S. consul generals of Tijuana and Monterrey. Hurdles still abound. Mexican craft brewers are taxed an average of 42.5 percent, Estrada says—three to four times higher than industrial breweries. Supplies are limited, too, since most are imported from the U.S., upping the cost of production.
Luckily for San Diegans, tapping into the scene is as easy as venturing a mile south of the border to Plaza Fiesta, an outdoor labyrinth of bars and restaurants that, with some 15 (and counting) craft beer tasting rooms, serves as Baja’s unofficial Epcot Center of craft beer.