¡Viva Tijuana! What's new in brew from south of the border

Editor's note: ¡Viva Tijuana! is a multi-story series about the life and culture of San Diego's modern neighbor to the south. More stories from the series can be found in links below.

PACIFIC's San Diego craft beer column heads south of the border for a momentito. ¡Salud!

Do me a flavor: A seis-pack of Tijuana cervezas

Cappuccino Stout

(4.5 percent alcohol)

Cerveza Artesanal 5 y 10's coffee stout tantalizes with first-cup-in-the-morning aromas, light body and smooth coffee and cream flavors.

Cerveza Artesanal 5 y 10 (Located at Beer Balcony in Plaza Fiesta)
Paseo de los Héroes 9415
Zona Urbana Río, 22010, Tijuana, B.C.

Charlie Brown

(5.5 percent alcohol)

It's tough to make an exciting brown ale; Norte's version thrills. Its caramel base teased by bracing hops.

Norte Brewing Co.
(Foreign Club parking lot)
Calle Cuarta, 720, Fifth floor
Zona Centro, 22000, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.638.4891, facebook.com/NorteBrewingCo

Güerra Prieta

(4.5 percent alcohol)

Yes, Border Psycho made this to entice timid Tecate drinkers. I don't care. This coffee and vanilla cream ale is an easy-drinking winner.

Border Psycho Brewery
Libertad 1751
Col. Azcona, 22055, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.379.1235, borderpsychobrewery.com

La Lupulosa

(7.3 percent alcohol)

By making a hop-heavy American-style IPA, Insurgente announced its big-league ambitions. By making this complex, fruity, refreshing IPA, the upstart became a binational legend.

Cervecería Insurgente
Juan Cordero 10021
Zona Urbana Río, 22010, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.634.1242, cervezainsurgente.com

Nox Arcana

(9 percent alcohol)

A silky imperial stout from Fauna, a Mexicali brewery with a popular Tijuana tasting room. Roasted coffee and bittersweet chocolate is submerged in bourbon and vanilla.

Cerveza Fauna Tasting Room
Paseo de los Héroes 9415, Ste. 3
Zona Urbana Río, 22010, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.163.7467

Sex on the Peach

(6.1 percent alcohol)

Mamut's wild ale brewed with peaches is funky, tart and clean. Savor - the fruit flavors become brighter, fresher after a few sips.

Mamut Brewery Co.
Calle Tercera, 8161, Second floor
Zona Centro, 22000, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.685.0137, mamutcerveza.com



Coming to a head: Explore Tijuana's brave new beer world in three easy stops

Germán Alcázar's first impression of Norte, a brewery wedged onto the fifth floor of a downtown Tijuana parking lot:

"What the hell? This won't work."

Somehow it does. Eighteen months later, Norte (and its brewer, Alcázar) are key players in one of North America's best beer cities.

Unfamiliar with this vibrant scene? Take a three-stop tour:

1. BCB Tasting Room

Industrial-chic BCB pours 300 beers, including 42 on tap. Order food from the kitchen - the ribeye sandwich, $11.75, is scrumptious - then a brew from Border Psycho, Ramuri or other Baja stars (pints are $2.50 to $4).

For almost five years, BCB has been introducing customers to full-flavored ales and lagers.

"People weren't fully sold on the craft beer thing," says co-owner Felipe Vera. "It took a while for it to catch on."

BCB Tasting Room
Orizaba 3003,
Fracc. Neidhart, 22020 Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.656.9405, bajacraftbeers.com

2. Mamut

A half block south of Revolución on Calle 3, Mamut's brewery/tasting room occupies a prime second-floor spot. On a warm day, the wide balcony is the perfect spot for on-point Belgian IPA.

Back on Revolución, turn right, then right into the alley between Caliente casino and a parking structure. On the garage's fifth floor, Norte offers award-winning beers and panoramic views from the city to Otay Mountain.

"Tijuana is craft beer heaven," brewer Alcázar says.

Mamut Brewery Co.
Calle Tercera, 8161, Second floor
Zona Centro, 22000, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.685.0137, mamutcerveza.com

 

3. Plaza Fiesta

The twisting pedestrian corridors here are lined with dozens of tasting rooms, including Donkey Punch, Madueño, Lúdica, Vibra and Insurgente. I stopped at Border Psycho for a potent imperial pale ale, then Beer Balcony for 5 y 10's creamy Cappuccino Stout.

While new to me, the beers tasted familiar.

"Whatever catches on in San Diego," says Rudy Lopez Jr., a 5 y 10 brewer and Beer Balcony partner, "the consumers and brewers in Tijuana follow closely."

Plaza Fiesta
Paseo de los Héroes 9415
Zona Urbana Río, Tijuana, B.C.
+52.664.200.2960, facebook.com/plazafiestatijuana

More...

¡Viva Tijuana! A soccer-fanatic wannabe's guide to the Xolos

¡Viva Tijuana! Interview with a Baja brewmaster

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