October 21, 2005

Forget Corona...

At the First International Beer Festival in Tijuana you’ll be able to enjoy a high-quality handcrafted beer

By Pablo Jaime Sainz

When it comes to beer, it’s a fact that Tijuana has much more to offer than the kegs from the All-You-Can-Drink at the clubs on Revolution Avenue.

And as proof, this weekend will take place the First International Beer Festival, where more than 25 high-quality brewers will present their products.

The participating brewers are microbrewers, that is, they produce beer that is hand-crafted using high-quality products, following the rules established in the 1516 international beer treaty, where it is stated that the main ingredients to create a good beer are barley malt, yeast for fermantation and water, according to Jose Antonio Gonzalez, owner of Cerve-cería Tijuana and Chief of Main Directorate of Brewing Partnership of Baja California, organization that together with the Tijuana Tourism Board is organizing the event.

On the other hand, the large brewers such as Corona, Budweiser and Tecate, “don’t follow these quality standards,” Gonzalez said. “That is understandable because they’re trying to make a profit. That’s why they reduce production time: The faster the beer is ready to be sold, the better. They add concentrates, flavors, conservatives, they use products that are not basic in a good beer such as sugar, corn and rice.”

At the festival, the public will be able to sample a variarity of more than 60 handcrafted beers, Gonzalez said.

“This isn’t about getting drunk,” he said. “It is a great opportunity for people to know and learn about handcrafted beers that are produced in both sides of the border. Here’s about learning, about comparing flavors, about textures, about knowing how to distinguish a high-quality beer.”

Gonzalez added that beer samples will be served in 4 ounce cups.

“We want to create a culture of knowing how to sample gourmet beer,” he said.

The participating brewers come from Mexico, the U.S., and Europe. The U.S. brewers include some from California and Colorado, while the Mexican brewers come from Monterrey, San Luis Potosi, Mexico City, and Guadalajara, Gonzalez said.

In Baja California there are only two microbrewers, he said: Cerveza Tijuana, in Tijuana, and Cerveza Cucapah, in Mexicali.

He added that Cerveza Mexicali began a few years ago as a microbrewer, but it was recently bought by the american company Coors, which changed the process from handcraft to massive.

In addition to beer sampling, the beer festival will have live music from the Czech Republic to add that flavor from a Bohemia region tavern.

Also, there will be an exhibition of classic vehicles and motorcycles, and a local talent festival.

And to eat with a good beer, there will be food from different parts of the world, Gonzalez said.

The First International Beer Festival will take place on Friday October 21 at Agua Caliente Race Track, and on Saturday 22 and Sunday 23 at Avenida Revolución between 6th. and 8th. Streets.

There’s no cover charge, but to sample beer there’s a cost of $100 pesos or about $10 dollars.

For more information visit www.tjbeerfest.com.

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