Ensenada Beer Fest is held on the grounds of the historic Riviera Del Pacifico, a former luxe hotel that hosted movie stars, the wealthy of Mexico and supposedly Al Capone had tunnels built underneath—a precursor to El Chapo?—but never made it south of the border. It was beautiful setting to what was to unfolded this past weekend—one of the best cerveza festivals in the West Coast, and one all beer lovers should visit next year.
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Unlike most American beer festivals that have a four hour limit, attendees were allowed to take their time—drink, eat, and socialize from 2 p.m. until midnight. Two stages of live music started almost immediately, a mixture of rock en español, reggae , some Sublime covers—but no Mana, thank God. In between, they rocked the 80's KROQ playlist, reminiscent of the epic #delstavo wedding bash.
Over 80 breweries from Baja and San Diego showed up,Insurgent,Heisenberg, Once Perros and Legion the local favortites, but my first taste was from a brewery all the way from Mexico City. Excellent cerveza! My next two tasters were from local breweries and they were also spot on. In talking to the brewers, I sensed such a passion for the art of brewing beer. And when you do something for the love of your craft it always surpasses doing something for the $$$.
I'm predicting that the Ensenada Beer Festival is about to blow up in a big way. It had so much going for it, far more than any American beer festival—don't forget that Mexicans know how to fiesta! And so the inevitable question arises: As American craft breweries are being bought out by mega beer distributors (Ballast Point going for cool billion!), will this trend trickle down into Mexico and dilute the product as well? Right now, no: Mexican craft beer is still the best-kept secret in suds right now. So get thee to the breweries in Mexicali , Tijuana, and Ensenada. And remember: don't drink the water, 'cause cerveza