I'm convinced that when the flood of US tourists resumes southward across the border, it's going to be the beernoscenti that lead the charge; nothing, not a three-hour wait to go home, not mind-bending traffic maneuvers around a statue of Moctezuma, not outdated State Department travel advisories, keeps beer lovers from beer. Nothing.
Last week, our colleague Sarah Bennett dropped by to review the excellent Baja Beer Fest that happened in Avenida Revolución two weeks ago. Last week was the Tijuana Beer Fest; there's another Baja Beer Fest every spring, and the Expo de la Cerveza Artesanal in May. Baja loves its beer, and loves an excuse to party.
So what's an itinerant beer geek to do when there's not a huge craft beer festival conveniently located a three-dollar taxi económico ride from the border? Baja breweries typically don't have tasting rooms, though that is slowly going to change over the next year or so.
What Baja does have is craft beer bars.
We've written about some of them before, and they all seem to be located within a few steps of Revolución, but the granddaddy of them all at the moment is Baja Craft Beers, or BCB for short, and is nowhere near downtown. It's located in a warehouse on Calle Orizaba, just off Blvd. Aguacaliente in the Neidhart district. Many taxi drivers don't know it yet; once they turn right on Orizaba from Aguacaliente, look on the right side for a small shingle that says "BCB". It shouldn't cost more than $7-$10 from the border in a taxi.
There are 42 beer taps and six enormous coolers inside, concentrating mostly on Mexican craft beer, but with plenty of German, Belgian and American beers as well. The list is a well-thumbed clipboard, and the bartenders are extremely friendly and knowledgeable (and, importantly to US beer people, bilingual). The beer is well-priced, especially by US standards, with most pours costing 50-70 pesos ($4-$5.50).
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There's also a full kitchen, so you can have dinner to wash down the often-potent brews. The kitchen is a great improvement on the usual fried snacks that beleaguer beer bars in the United States, though the menu changes too often for individual food review to be useful.
Be aware as you drink that some of the breweries, like Ki'Li and Ley Seca, are essentially nanobreweries, producing just a barrel or two at a time from small fermenters; a beer you fall in love with at BCB one week may not be there the next. With sixty craft breweries in the state of Baja California, though, it's only a matter of time until you find your next.
Baja Craft Beers is located at Av. Orizaba 3003, Fraccionamiento Neidhart, Tijuana.