Just back from a great trip to Los Cabos, Mexico, and I have to say there’s not much in the way of craft beer down there. However, I did manage to check out the only brewery in southern Baja California, Baja Brewing Co. It was started in 2007 by several guys from Colorado who went down there and realized it was dry when it came to microbrews.
They now have two locations, one in San Jose del Cabo, which is where the brewery is, and another new location in Cabo San Lucas. Both locations have food, everything from burgers to pizza.
At the San Jose del Cabo spot last week they had seven beers on tap:
Baja Blonde - a Mexican style light lager, which also comes in a bottle. ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 20
Raspberry Beer - ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 14
Escorpion Negro - a black lager that’s smooth and light. ABV – 4.5 percent, IBU – 18
Peliroja Red - a malty, hoppy, fruity ale. ABV – 5.5 percent, IBU – 40
Burro Brown - a brown ale made with four kinds of English barley. It was smooth and just a little sour. Had a few over the trip. ABV – 6ish percent, IBU – 25
Mango Beer - comes with a chunk of mango. It wasn’t too sweet and wasn’t my favorite.
They also have a drink where they mix their Raspberry Beer with the Escorpion Negro, the waitress called it the “girly warrior.” It basically tasted like raspberry soda.
David Hatfield, who manages the San Jose location, said it wasn’t easy setting up the brewery with all the red tape in Mexico. He said there are only two craft breweries in Baja California, their brewery and one in Tijuana. And even now it’s not all smooth, they have trucks drive all their ingredients (hops, barley, etc.) down the treacherous Mexican Federal Highway No. 1.
Baja Brewing Co. also must have the one of the best logos of any brewery, in the U.S. or Mexico. Hatfield said they looked at around 100 possibilities before settling on their choice.
It’s a fun place to check out if you happen to be down that way. I know I’ll be thinking of it all winter, just to stay warm.
- Matt Pritchard
Italy is known for wine and food, but it’s home to hundreds of small breweries, including some innovative microbreweries making beer available here in the United States. Missoula’s own BeerTrips.com, the foremost beer travel outfitter, has a trip on the books for September 15 – 25.
The tour is slated to visited places like Cinque Terre, Genoa, Vernante, Alba and Torino, with beer dinners, tours of famous sites, cheese-making demonstrations and many other activities.
Read all about the Italy tour schedule and many other European beer tours available throughout the summer and fall at www.beertrips.com.
Exotic is another word for home sweet home
I’ve drank a Fiji Bitter during a nasty cyclone in Fiji. I drank a malty devil on a hot July day in Havana, Cuba. I sipped a big Pilsner in a 1500-year-old castle in the north of Albania, as American war planes flew overhead on their way to bomb Serbian positions in Kosovo. Two-days-later, I enjoyed a Sarajevsko Pivo in a shelled-out cafe in downtown Sarajevo. I’ve always considered those to be exotic beer drinking experiences. Whether it was enjoying my first Steinlager on a boat out in Auckland harbor during the 2000 America’s Cup finally or slaking my thirst after a long, hot Latvian sauna outside of Riga, my memories of these exotic locals will forever be imprinted with the beer I was enjoying at the time.
One person’s exotic is another person’s mundane
But something struck me the other day, as I overheard a German couple in a taproom talk about how wonderful it was to be having such good beer in Montana. Our friendly mountain community might not seem like exotic local to those of use who live here day to day, but neither do those places I mentioned seem like anything out of the ordinary for the folks who live there.
Exotic is defined by mindset of the person who is visiting a place. And it’s not always tall mountains, sandy beaches or dense forests that stick in the mind. Often it’s the smallest, most fundamental things that make a place exotic in our minds. Lord knows my Latvian friends get tired of the long winters and fearsome Baltic storms every year, in spite of a healthy supply of great beer and hot saunas.
Beer is the common denominator
Alcoholic beverages are often served in places with bad drinking water, so the likelihood of arriving at your destination and ordering a tall, cold one after your trip is pretty good. And more often than not, I bet we remember how sharing a beer with a new friend in a new place actually stays with us many years later, or how the taste of something not tasted in many years can take you back to that place. I did this recently when I was able to try a bottle of Fiji Bitter many years after I traveled to those islands. The taste instantly brought me back to Nandi town and the dry northern days and the heat that settled in after the cyclone passed by. I could taste the reminder of those friendships I formed with my island friends and the sweet smell of a cold beer after a hard day of work fixing the grass shacks obliterated by the high winds of the storm. It made me remember dark night staring up at the Southern Cross as if I’d never seen it before. And I hadn’t.
And just what on earth is a beer steward? Well, it would sound pretentious to say that a beer steward is like the steward of Gondor in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, one who holds a kingdom in order until an heir to the royal line can be found to take his rightful place on the throne. So I’ll give it another definition. A beer steward is like a beer courier, only given a more respectful title, as befits their status among beer lovers in remote outposts.
For me, a beer steward is one of those thoughtful human beings who, upon returning from a long journey, presents me with malted, hopped beverages from afar. And while the occasional vacationing sojourner brings me said beverages, it’s usually around the holidays, when my Missoula friends scatter to the four corners, that I am endowed with cellar building beers in various styles and vintages.
Why just this last week, my good friends and beer aficionados, Justin and Jen Grigg brought me two delightful-looking beers from the microbrewery capital of Australia, the state of Victoria.
And this week, with many friends heading out of town, I know I’ll be the recipient of other interesting beers of the world.
Just this morning, my good friend Beau McBryde offered to bring me back some beer from the great state of Nebraska. And here’s where I need your help, dear readers, what, if you could have any craft brew from that state, would you pick?
Send me your answers soon, as Beau and his bride take off Thursday morning.
Or so says the lede in travel writer Evan Rail’s look at the relatively new trend of soaking one’s body in beer. The soaking in beer article, describes several brew houses in Europe who are providing visitors with the ability to possibly fulfill a life-long dream of sinking, inch, by inch, into a big, hot, vat of warm beer. What, that wasn’t your life-long dream? Well, excuse me for desiring some of the finer things in life.
The truth is, I think I’ve seen everything under the sun in the realm of soaking one’s body in hot liquid. There is mud, of course, and champagne, and certain kinds of dung. There is the always exciting Ganges River and soaking in thermal pools with who-knows-what in mineral form bubbling up from the depths of the earth.
My point is that soaking in beer is a novelty, unless you consider the fact that the holistic part of beer, the combination of brewed grains, yeast, hops and pure water, might actually hold some amazing health secrets. I figure it’s worth a try. Who knows, beer just might be the Fountain of Youth. Too bad we didn’t realize that it’s might not be in consuming it but in soaking our weary bones in it.
So, get yourself a few growlers of your favorite low-alcohol beer, though I’m not entirely sure why that matters, and go fill up your bathtub and see if it does the trick.