It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it. Last week, we were tasked with a difficult assignment: to visit a craft-beer tasting session at one of Tijuana's latest and most promising culinary enterprises, the Baja Artesanal restaurant, which also offered an incredible four course meal pairing with the same craft-beers presented at the tasting.
We were invited by Funes Craft-Beers to the tasting hosted at Baja Artesanal in the Galerías Hipódromo mall. We were also glad to see that attendance was high and very diverse, a sign perhaps that craft-beer culture is catching on among the general public.
The night began on the second floor of "Baja Artesanal" with a tasting co-hosted by Raúl Aispuro Funes, master brewer and partner at Cerveza Artesanal Funes, or Funes Craft-Breer, who delighted attendees with several styles of beers from their selection. Claudia Horta Meza, sommelier for both Baja Terra restaurant and Baja Artesanal, was his co-host and expert on food pairing for the night.
During the tasting session, both spoke in detail about the styles of beer they had brought, starting with the Oriental style, a beer created by Funes not unlike the Japanese style based on rice, and similar to Sake; they had also Blanca, a Witbier like beer; a Porter, which Funes emphasized was made in the traditional way, even going so far as to use Nottingham yeast to give it a British touch; and finally, his English IPA, again highlighting the importance of maintaining the beer's traditional style.
There is something else worth noting about the tasting and the almost hour long lecture about craft-brewing, and that was the public's interested and diversity of the people who decided to spend their time wanting to learn more about a seemingly ordinary thing like beer. People were asking about the processes, technicalities and even some comparisons with commercial beer with respect to craft. Raúl Funes gave basically a crash-course about beer, addressing topics from its history to every style of beer and even aspects of the chemistry involved in the elaboration of the drink.
Once the tasting was finished, things became... delicious. The food paring, "maridaje" in Spanish, was about to begin. Claudia Horta invited us down to the main dinning area of Baja Artesanal and we were about to enjoy one of the best food pairings we have had the pleasure of enjoying.
More about the food pairing in the next page