The Real Baja

Baja Beer Fest 2013: Part 1

A weekend dedicated to craft beer

Baja Beer Fest 2013: Part 1

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A great excitement and pleasure was seeing so many local brewers gathered this weekend in Down Town Tijuana, at an event that surpassed the previous editions. The Baja Beer Fest, in my opinion, is like the Comic-Con of craft beers of Baja California. About this great event, where many breweries were present, there is much to talk about. So, this entire week we will be talking about everything and everyone who was present at this magnificent event that improves every year.

In my experience, it is always better to arrive a little late to events after other people have arrived and after the booths have already set up, however, this time I arrived early and was very surprised to see everything in order. It was not even 4 pm when everything was all ready to go, the music was playing, crowds of people arrived one after another, and the beer was being served.

Going into the event I noticed that the food stands were separate from the brewery stands, which to my surprise, there was a great amount of food and the quality of it was great. It was as if the air around you had many scents that invited you to try a little bit of everything. A few of the many restaurants that were present were “”La Guerrerense” with its internationally famous tostadas, and the original Tacos Kokopelli. However, the biggest surprise for me was Barrikas Gastropub, who makes the best burgers that I've eaten in years in the city of Tijuana, plus they had a hot dog that was made with a kosher sausage that was very good.

After eating something, I headed toward the stage where the DJ was playing some great “cumbia” music and where I met Mr. Tony Tee, one of the organizers of the event who was in charge of the music selection. As we drank a cold one at the Beer Nights Rosarito stand, he told me a little about the bands and artists who were going to be present at this year’s event, which he assured me that this edition of the Baja Beer Fest would be a great success.

My first official stop was at the Border Psycho brewery stand, where I saw Roberto Albarran and his team, whom brought with them their great beer selection. The "Belgian Psycho", a black saison that we mentioned before, was what they chose to offer to all of those who came by their stand.

I then headed towards the “Ley Seca” brew stand, where I met the master brewers Juan Bojorquez and Emannuel Rojas, who brought to the Baja Beer Fest an IPA called "Red Viper" that was undoubtedly one of the "highlights" of the event. The quality with which they produce their beers is amazing and at the same time maintains that vibe of doing something "forbidden". When you try a "Ley Seca" (Prohibition), you will understand the reason of why they chose to give it that name.

Also present at the Baja Beer Fest were some breweries from Mexicali, about 4 to be exact, for which I then decided to make “Peninsula” as my next stop. These boys from Mexicali surprised many people with their original recipes, especially with their beer "Jarocha", which was a Vanilla Ale that was liked very much by all of the attendees.

VIDEO: Baja Beer Fest 2013

I was pleasantly surprised to learn that Ivan Rios, a friend of mine who I had not seen in years, is the master brewer of the "Insurgentes Brewery" from Tijuana, one of my favorite breweries. The strong card that this brewery offered as a sample in the Baja Beer fest was the "No. 7", a very summery beer made with hops from New Zealand, malt from the U.S., and Belgian yeast, very refreshing for this type of weather. So, after talking to Ivan for a while I was glad to learn that we're both doing what we like.

What caught my attention the most from "Milkk" was their distinctive design. Here we tried out their magnificent Cream Ale beer. This craft beer is originally from Tijuana and the affection that Alberto Jacinto, the master brewer, has for his product, shows.

San Diego breweries were also present at this event with the participation of "Helm's Brewing Co.", who brought along with them their famous “Beeruccino”and “Hop The Rippa”, giving this event a Californian touch, especially with their “Captain's Pale Ale”, my favorite brew from all of the ones that this brewery presented at this festival.

As mentioned earlier, the Baja Beer Fest 2013 was a very big event. So tomorrow we will continue with more of what happened in this event that had many pleasant surprises, and tell you more about what Ensenada, Mexicali and Tijuana had to offer in this year’s Baja Beer Fest 2013.

jorge.guevara@sandiegored.com

Omar.Martinez@sandiegored.com

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