San Diego, let me start of by saying that you do not know how good you have it regarding craft beers. Remember in the Lion King when Mufasa tells Simba about that dark place on the horizon called The Elephant’s Graveyard? Well that was Tijuana regarding beer not that long ago. Sure we had our Tecate , Corona and Dos Equis but that was about it. Thanks to the San Diego influence and some dedicated beer lovers south of the border that has changed dramatically and Tijuana is now considered by many to be the craft beer capital of Mexico.
The best place in Tijuana, and quite possibly all of Mexico, to sample local and international brews is undoubtedly BCB Tasting Room. I went to BCB on a Friday night to try some of the brews and food from their kitchen (hard work for sure!) and met up with Ruben Valenzuela who along with Felipe Vera own the place. Ruben started telling me about the origins of BCB, which stands for Baja Craft Brews, as a local beer distributor. As the craft beer movement started to grow in Tijuana thanks to places like Devo’s, Zebra Mexican Pub and The Beer Box there also grew a need for someone to deliver beers to those places. Inspired by the new wave of beer drinkers they decided to open BCB Tasting Room this past August and it has been an unqualified hit. You can find a good crowd here pretty much every day and on weekends it gets packed around 8 PM.
It is located near Colonia Chapultepec in an old warehouse and is nicely decorated with empty beer cartons on one wall, a cold room with kegs on another and hanging beer keg lamps. The music is a combination of classic and alternative rock along with rock en español.
VIDEO : The BCB Tasting Room
First things first so let’s talk about the “cerveza artesanal”. There are thirty beers on tap and there will be twelve more in the near future. About half of them are from the Tijuana-San Diego area and the rest are from other parts of Mexico and the US. The list rotates depending on availability and the time of year. The menu lists over two hundred bottled beers from twelve countries including beer capitals like Germany, Belgium and the Czech Republic.
Some of the standouts are Ballast Point Victory At Sea and Firestone Union Jack from the USA which were recently among the top 12 according to CNN’s Eatocracy blog. From Mexico they have Insurgente’s IPA Lupulosa and the full line from Ramuri. La Lupulosa won the gold medal for best IPA and Ramuri was selected as Mexico’s best craft brewery in the recently concluded national event called Cerveza Mexico. I asked Ruben what his most popular beers are and he said the people like to order the local Tijuana beers such as Frontera, Insurgente, Ramuri and Border Psycho.