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The Rise of Baja Beer

Baja is quickly becoming the Mexican mecca for beer


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BCB Tasting Room in Tijuana | Photo by Luis Garcia

Baja Beer Events

Expo Cerveza Artesanal
Tijuana, June 3–4

Rosarito Beer Fest
Late July

Ensenada Oktoberfest
Late September–early October

Mexicali Beer Fest
November

Ensenada Beer Fest
March 2017

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.

 

5 New Cerveceros to Know

You likely know Insurgente, Border Psycho, and Agua Mala. Here are cinco emerging brews you might not have tasted yet.

Norte Brewing Co.
Norte set up shop in what was once a fifth-floor strip club hidden in the back of a parking garage. The pole may be gone, but its legend lives on with brews named Cougar, Escort, and Quinto Piso (Fifth Floor).

Cerveza Fauna
Fauna finished first at the Ensenada Beer Fest in 2012 and won the People’s Choice Award at the Mexicali Beer Fest 2013. Try their copper porter, Belgian blond, or Russian imperial stout, on tap at their Plaza Fiesta tasting room.

Paralelo 28
Originally born on the 28th parallel in Guerrero Negro, Paralelo 28 moved 440 miles north to Tijuana’s Plaza Fiesta in 2014.

Lúdica Artesanal
Lúdica—Spanish for “playful”—won silver at Cerveza Mexico 2014 with a Belgian IPA and a single-hop pale ale.

Cerveceria Urbana
Founded by two brothers, Urbana’s crossover IPA took gold at Cerveza Mexico 2015. Visit their tasting rooms in Mexicali and Tijuana (coming soon).

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The Rise of Baja Beer

Baja is quickly becoming the Mexican mecca for beer
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