Every month here in Tijuana, Baja Artesanal restaurant organizes a beer tasting and pairing event. It is always a pleasure to take part in an event like this in a location dedicated to promoting the culture of local craft beer. This time we had a great night at the showcasing of Cerveza Frontera (Frontera Beer).
The place was packed, and Baja Artesanals second floor was full of beer tasters and enthusiasts. Sommelier Claudia Horta and Master Beer Crafter David Guzmán explained everything related to the making of beer. While many of the terms used were unfamiliar to amateurs there for the first time, the whole experience was very interactive and the atmosphere was easy-going.
Cerveza Frontera brought out four beers from its repertoire: a Pale Ale named Guera Coquetona ("Flirty Blondy", which is one of its most popular varieties they have for sale. It has a low alcohol content (5%), and is a golden pale with smooth medium-body. The aroma is slightly hoppy and a very noticeable honey flavor.
The second beer was a Hefeweizen variety called Don Luis made of wheat and barley. It is definitely a light beer, with hints of banana and clove that aren't overwhelming, and is refreshingly perfect for the hot days that are on the way.
Cierro Ticuan is a Brown Ale variety of low alcohol content (5%) made of four different malts and a selection of hops that give it a really special flavor. The taste of caramelized malt is evident along with the flavors of peanut and nuts.
Finally, Mercado Negro ("Black Market"- by far my favorite of the event- a Stout variety with dark copper tones and a full-bodied taste. The flavor ranges from a hint of chocolate to roasted coffee. It is quite sweet when compared to other Stouts due to its low alcohol content, but still a very tasty beer.
Once the tasting was over, we went on to the pairing portion of the night, crafted by Claudia Horta, who never fails to surprise us with her unconventional pairings. The first pairing, with the Guera Coquetona beer, was a spin-off of Tostilocos, a very popular snack created here in Tijuana, which is made up of Tostitos chips, clamato juice, jicama, rinds, shrimp, nuts, and tamarind drizzles.
The second plate was Bay Scallop Ceviche and banana froth paired with Don Luis beer. The sweet hints of banana went perfectly with the beer, along with a taste of spicy habanero that turned it into the perfect combination for this pairing.
The third pairing gave me mixed emotions. Cerro Ticuan was served with birria tacos that were delicious and offered a perfect urban combination, but I felt it was bit lacking. Leaving that aside, the combination was great because of the way the birria was prepared and went well with the beer. According to Claudia Horta, that was the idea, to create simple and characteristic pairings. She wanted these Baja platters to pair with these beers and project a sense of ownership over the local cuisine and pay tribute to its namesake- "Frontera", which means "border" in Spanish.
We finished the night with dessert, and paired with the Mercado Negro. A delicious flan drizzled with caramel created by the very same beer. Definitely the best way to close out the night filled with excellent craft beer and food.
Once again, Baja Artesanal showcased the best local cuisine and local craft beer. Please visit their Facebook Page for future events and specials.