Border X Brewing and Mujeres Brew House are blazing a new trail
A conversation about diversity with brewery co-founders David Favela and Carmen Velasco-Favela
White dudes with beards making IPAs. For most, that’s the image that comes to mind when one thinks of the San Diego brewing scene. But there are exceptions to the rule.
Take Border X Brewing and Mujeres Brew House. Located in Barrio Logan, both are rich examples of breweries disrupting the race and gender status quo in the craft beer industry.
According to co-founder and CEO David Favela, Border X Brewing started in 2013 with just $24,000 and a half barrel. The Latino-owned brewery’s first beer was its Blood Saison, inspired by the Mexican drink jamaica made with hibiscus flower.
“We grew up with (jamaica) and we were like, ‘Well, what if we made a beer using our own cultural treasure trove of flavors, traditions, and ingredients?’” Favela said.
Over the years, Border X has continued to honor its roots with unique brews, including its Horchata Golden Stout and Abuelita’s Chocolate Stout. As a result, the business has cultivated a loyal following in its diverse neighborhood.
“When I opened up in Barrio Logan, people thought I was crazy. After eight years now, I think I’ve proven them wrong,” Favela said.
“We’ve blazed a trail showing that Latinos love craft beer — they just want it on their terms,” he continued. “They don’t want to have to just conform to the industry, they want to influence the industry.”
In 2019, Favela said the brewery conducted market research on its databases — and to their surprise, found that nearly 60 percent of its identifiable customer base was female. A year later, Border X teamed up with Mujeres Brew Club, an educational series that empowers Latinas interested in craft beer, to expand its community.
The result was an all-female run brewery: Mujeres Brew House. Founder Carmen Velasco-Favela — who is also the COO of Border X — notes that she was previously a non-beer drinker. However, a taste of Abuelita’s Chocolate Stout peaked her interest in the craft, and inspired her to delve into innovative beer recipes.
Led by brewer Samantha Olsen, the Mujeres team is encouraged to experiment and brew whatever they want. And that includes serving craft beer cocktails like Micheladas and Guava BeerMosas, which quickly became customer favorites.
Turns out Velasco-Favela first introduced the idea of craft beer cocktails at Border X but received pushback by some team members who thought the alteration was disrespectful to craft beer. So she set up a pop-up to prove them wrong.
“And of course, it went amazing — and everyone wanted a Cucumber Michelada. And now you see craft breweries all implementing Micheladas,” Velasco-Favela said, laughing. “Sometimes you got to break the rules.”
In addition to rule-breaking beers, Mujeres has cultivated a home for female beer lovers, with Velasco-Favela noting, “The women always say that ‘This space is for me — I feel comfortable here.’” And that goes for both customers and employees.
“I’m (looking forward) to getting more women of color in brewing in San Diego, and that’s the part I’m super excited about for 2022,” Velasco-Favela said.
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