The Baja California micro and craft brew scene is emerging and could be to the point of exploding if the powers that be and the beer Gods allow it to. The craft beer scene in Baja is doing what its older cousin wine started to do a decade ago. Baja California is the leading producer of wine and now craft beer in all of Mexico. Baja brewers ( about 50 different brands ) have a clear advantage to those in the interior of the country thanks to the great place us Bi Border folk call “EL OTRO LADO” ( San Diego, Ca “ The Other side” ). The micro brew scene in San Diego, its connoisseurs and availability of ingredients have helped revolutionize the scene in Baja. Unlike in San Diego, in Tijuana it is quite difficult to find a local craft beer anywhere in fact, it is quite a journey or adventure to find one some times.
In a city and region where Tecate is king, the once locally brewed ( small percent still brewed in Tecate, BC, most of it brewed in Monterrey, Mex ) beer is now part of Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezumamwhich is now part of Heineken. Corona is part of grupo Modelo and between the two corporate brew giants have a lock on beer consumption in the city. Local brewers find it difficult to persuade small bar owners, many of which have their liquor permits rented or loaned by Corona or Tecate in exchange for exclusivity, to sell local brewed craft beer in fear of getting bullied by the two big brands. Border people as a whole don’t know what a good beer is yet, the stronger and richer craft beers are a world away from their taste buds. Good beer is a foreign taste they can not assimilate yet. I have heard people say “ It’s too sweet” or “ It’s too strong and tastes like perfume”. They say this because they have been drinking that watered down Tecate Light for so many years that they expect all beer to taste like that. In city where at bars and restaurants a beer costs on the average between 20- 30 pesos ( $1.50 - $2.50 dollars), the price of a good beer is also a huge factor of why staying on course with the watered down and dirt cheap beer is a better option to some, but not to me, I want the good stuff!
Let’s be honest, local craft beers will never compete on a commercial level with the huge brands. Why all the worry from these brands about them? I say it has to do with taste, flavor and good old Mexican pride or machismo. There a handful of these local craft beers that are ready both financially and taste wise to be on the market at most super markets , bars and restaurants in the state. They can produce quite a bit of beer, have been producing it for a while and are ready to tap into bigger markets for sale and consumption. A few of these beers you have to taste are Cerveza Frontera, Cervecería Insurgente, Cerveza Cucapá and Ramuri. These beers are local and great. They come in the form of Stout, Porter, Ale and even IPA. You heard me right folks, Tijuana Mexican IPA. There are many more, maybe too many to name in a small column like this but the previously mentioned companies are ready to go a little bigger and I expect them to do so within a short time.