It’s pretty obvious that Craft brewing is a big deal in San Diego, with plenty of microbreweries in town you can find quality non-mainstream beer at nearly every liquor and grocery store. Despite how close geographically San Diego and Tijuana are, the craft beer craze hasn’t caught on south of the border, Tecate still owns this town. When I got to a bar I’m happy if they have Bohemia Obscura. I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen a beer tap down here, everywhere you go its bottles or cans. But that’s not to say that Tijuana is totally devoid of craft breweries.
Yesterday we stopped by La Cervecería Tijuana, the only Microbrewery in the city. Located just a few miles south of the famous Avenida Revolucion, Cerveza Tijuana brews six lagers and has Tavern attached with views of the brewery. We went hoping to get a tour of the brewery and see a bit of the brewing process in addition to sampling beer, but were told that they were shut down for the holidays, so we grabbed a seat and got down to sampling.
We were immediately offered a sample platter of all six beers for $5 US. When they came out the server identified each for us and arranged them in lightest to darkest sampling order.
- Tijuana Light
I typically don’t like lagers as much as stronger more hoppy ales, but I was excited to give these a try. Tijuana Light was far too light for me, better than Tecate but nothing I’d drink again. Bronca is the unfiltered version of Guera. I liked the Bronca a bit better, but neither really impressed me. Brava was a bit better, but still lacking a lot of hops. It was very malty, almost like eating a slice of bread. Morena was the one TJ Beer I’d tasted before, I found a six pack at the grocery store and gave it a shot, it is a darker lager, but has a sweet aftertaste which I didn’t like too much. Bufadora the last, is the heaviest of the lot, it had an amber color with quite a bit of head. It is the newest beer, not even on their promo material yet. It was also my favorite. It had a bit more flavor to it.
To compare TJ Beer to all my favorites in San Diego is unfair. Sure I’ll take most SD beers over TJ Beer every time, but when compared to the rest of the beers I can buy down here, Tecate, Bohemia, Sol and imports such as Miller and Coors Lite, I’ll take Tijuana Brewery every time. And just because they’re not my favorite, doesn’t mean they’re not good, they’ve won some awards.
As for the Tavern, I loved it. The food was typical pub fare, with a bit of a Mexican twist, and the space itself was perfect. Wood paneling everywhere, dark but not too dark, loud but not too loud. It wasn’t crowded, in fact we were one of only three couples in the place, but it was early, too late for lunch too early for dinner and TJ isn’t attracting a lot of tourists these days.
According to their website, you can find TJ Beers at a lot of liquor stores in San Diego as well as some Costco stores.
The Union-Tribune did a story on Mexican beers mentioning TJ Beer a few years ago. And here is Beeradvocate’s page on TJ Beer, where you can read reviews by some real beer snobs.
UPDATE: We made a movie of our trip to the brewery! You can see it here.