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Mexico's capital of craft

Baja brewers cleaned up in national competition

Insurgente, Cerveza Fauna, Cerveceria Wendlandt and fellow Baja breweries set the craft beer pace in Mexico.
Insurgente, Cerveza Fauna, Cerveceria Wendlandt and fellow Baja breweries set the craft beer pace in Mexico.

Back in September, in what has become an autumn tradition, the Great American Beer Festival heaped loads of recognition upon the general greatness of San Diego beer. Area breweries claimed five golds en route to sixteen medals overall, slightly up from the fourteen won in 2017, and right about our annual average over the past ten years.

The biggest local winner was Ocean Beach Brewery; the two-year-old coastal brewpub earned the right to call itself the Small Brewpub of the Year.

But it’s time to start celebrating the accomplishments of another local brew scene: the one emerging directly to our south. In October, Mexico held its most distinguished national beer competition, Copa Cerveza Mx, and breweries from the state of Baja California dominated, claiming 42 out of 127 medals; its biggest regional competitors came from Mexico City (22 medals) and the area around Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco (19 medals).

Tijuana breweries led the Baja medal count, earning 17 pieces of hardware, but it was Mexicali that truly led the way, accounting for 9 of the 19 gold medals coming home to Baja, and 14 medals overall.

Particularly successful was Mexicali’s Cerveza Fauna, which claimed 3 golds and 2 silver medals, earning the distinction as this year’s top brewery (Fauna also earned a bronze in this year’s World Beer Cup). Not far behind was Insurgente, the rare Tijuana craft brewery that ships bottles to the U.S. Insurgente received 5 medals, including 2 each gold and silver. Rounding out the region’s success were Ensenada-based breweries, its 10 medal haul led by Cerveceria Wendlandt, winning 2 golds and 2 silvers of its own.

Another double gold medal winner was Mexicali’s Cerveceria Legion, which added a bronze to its total. Other Tijuana breweries earning multiple medals were Kaminari Brewing Co. (1 gold, 2 silver) and Madueño Brewing Co. (1 gold, 1 silver). Ensenada’s Heisenberg claimed 1 gold, 1 bronze.

Perhaps as telling as San Diego’s cross-border friends performing so well was the categories that helped them do so. For example, Baja breweries swept both the American IPA category, and Black IPAs. And they took the top two spots of several other categories San Diego breweries are well known for: American Pale Ale, American Amber Ale, Imperial Stout, Fruit Beer, and Double IPA. For good measure, they also took gold and silver for hazy, or New England IPAs.

Below is a list of award winning beers, by city, to look for south of the border. See a full list of Copa Cerveza Mx winners here

Ensenada

  • Cerveceria Doble C
  • Bronze — Sombra Verde, Session IPA
  • Cerveceria Transpeninsular
  • Silver — 3 Virgenes, American Amber Ale
  • Cerveceria Wendlandt
  • Gold — Vaquita Marina, American Pale Ale
  • Gold — Harry Polanco, American Amber Ale
  • Silver — Veraniega, Blonde Ale
  • Silver — Foca Parlante, American Stout
  • Cerveza Bruer
  • Gold — Hussong Porter, American Porter
  • Cerveza Cardera
  • Gold — Grinch , Chocolate and Coffee Beers
  • Heisenberg
  • Gold — Mike, Belgian IPA
  • Bronze — Cuantica Honey Bee, Alternative Sugar Beer

Mexicali

  • Brew Capital
  • Gold — Citra IPA, American IPA
  • Cervecería Cucapá
  • Bronze — Greencard, American Barleywine
  • Cerveceria Legion
  • Gold — Tenebris, Imperial Stout
  • Gold — Framboise, Fruit Lambic
  • Bronze — Legion IPA, American IPA
  • Cerveza Ballesteros
  • Gold — Kölsch, Kolsch
  • Cerveza Fauna
  • Gold — Nox Arcana, Foreign Extra Stout
  • Gold — Dark Lycan, Black IPA
  • Gold — Cabeza de Vaca, Double IPA
  • Silver — Farmhouse, Brett Beer
  • Silver — Guayaba Berliner Weisse, Fruit Beer
  • Ciervo Rojo Cerveceria
  • Gold — Cheeky Monkey, New England IPA
  • Puerco Salvaje
  • Gold — Barrel Aged Sour, Wood-Aged Beer
  • Rival Brewing Co.
  • Silver — Black Forest, Black IPA

Tecate

  • Cerveza Mexicana Colibre
  • Silver — Colibre Dark Lager, Czech Dark Lager

Tijuana

  • Border Psycho Brewery
  • Silver — Hoptimista, American IPA
  • Silver — Perversa, Double IPA
  • Cerveceria Ramuri
  • Gold — Lagrimas Negras 30A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer
  • Insurgente
  • Gold — Scotch Scotch Scotch..., Wee Heavy
  • Gold — Rosa Salvaje, Fruit Beer
  • Silver — Dragula, Oatmeal Stout
  • Silver — Imperial Stout, Specialty Wood-Aged Beer
  • Bronze — Brown, American Brown Ale
  • Kaminari Brewing Co
  • Gold — Zaguee, Wild Specialty Beer
  • Silver — Anubis Breakfast, Imperial Stout
  • Silver — Gose Mojito, Fruit and Spice Beer
  • Lúdica Artesanal
  • Bronze — Lambic 2014 23D: Lambic
  • Madueño Brewing Co.
  • Gold — Antares, American Wheat Beer
  • Silver — Myrcene, New England IPA
  • Mamut Brewery Co.
  • Silver — Fractal, American Pale Ale
  • Teorema
  • Silver — Odisea, Berliner Weisse
  • Bronze — Kaiman, Black IPA
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Insurgente, Cerveza Fauna, Cerveceria Wendlandt and fellow Baja breweries set the craft beer pace in Mexico.
Insurgente, Cerveza Fauna, Cerveceria Wendlandt and fellow Baja breweries set the craft beer pace in Mexico.

Back in September, in what has become an autumn tradition, the Great American Beer Festival heaped loads of recognition upon the general greatness of San Diego beer. Area breweries claimed five golds en route to sixteen medals overall, slightly up from the fourteen won in 2017, and right about our annual average over the past ten years.

The biggest local winner was Ocean Beach Brewery; the two-year-old coastal brewpub earned the right to call itself the Small Brewpub of the Year.

But it’s time to start celebrating the accomplishments of another local brew scene: the one emerging directly to our south. In October, Mexico held its most distinguished national beer competition, Copa Cerveza Mx, and breweries from the state of Baja California dominated, claiming 42 out of 127 medals; its biggest regional competitors came from Mexico City (22 medals) and the area around Guadalajara, in the state of Jalisco (19 medals).

Tijuana breweries led the Baja medal count, earning 17 pieces of hardware, but it was Mexicali that truly led the way, accounting for 9 of the 19 gold medals coming home to Baja, and 14 medals overall.

Particularly successful was Mexicali’s Cerveza Fauna, which claimed 3 golds and 2 silver medals, earning the distinction as this year’s top brewery (Fauna also earned a bronze in this year’s World Beer Cup). Not far behind was Insurgente, the rare Tijuana craft brewery that ships bottles to the U.S. Insurgente received 5 medals, including 2 each gold and silver. Rounding out the region’s success were Ensenada-based breweries, its 10 medal haul led by Cerveceria Wendlandt, winning 2 golds and 2 silvers of its own.

Another double gold medal winner was Mexicali’s Cerveceria Legion, which added a bronze to its total. Other Tijuana breweries earning multiple medals were Kaminari Brewing Co. (1 gold, 2 silver) and Madueño Brewing Co. (1 gold, 1 silver). Ensenada’s Heisenberg claimed 1 gold, 1 bronze.

Perhaps as telling as San Diego’s cross-border friends performing so well was the categories that helped them do so. For example, Baja breweries swept both the American IPA category, and Black IPAs. And they took the top two spots of several other categories San Diego breweries are well known for: American Pale Ale, American Amber Ale, Imperial Stout, Fruit Beer, and Double IPA. For good measure, they also took gold and silver for hazy, or New England IPAs.

Below is a list of award winning beers, by city, to look for south of the border. See a full list of Copa Cerveza Mx winners here

Ensenada

  • Cerveceria Doble C
  • Bronze — Sombra Verde, Session IPA
  • Cerveceria Transpeninsular
  • Silver — 3 Virgenes, American Amber Ale
  • Cerveceria Wendlandt
  • Gold — Vaquita Marina, American Pale Ale
  • Gold — Harry Polanco, American Amber Ale
  • Silver — Veraniega, Blonde Ale
  • Silver — Foca Parlante, American Stout
  • Cerveza Bruer
  • Gold — Hussong Porter, American Porter
  • Cerveza Cardera
  • Gold — Grinch , Chocolate and Coffee Beers
  • Heisenberg
  • Gold — Mike, Belgian IPA
  • Bronze — Cuantica Honey Bee, Alternative Sugar Beer

Mexicali

  • Brew Capital
  • Gold — Citra IPA, American IPA
  • Cervecería Cucapá
  • Bronze — Greencard, American Barleywine
  • Cerveceria Legion
  • Gold — Tenebris, Imperial Stout
  • Gold — Framboise, Fruit Lambic
  • Bronze — Legion IPA, American IPA
  • Cerveza Ballesteros
  • Gold — Kölsch, Kolsch
  • Cerveza Fauna
  • Gold — Nox Arcana, Foreign Extra Stout
  • Gold — Dark Lycan, Black IPA
  • Gold — Cabeza de Vaca, Double IPA
  • Silver — Farmhouse, Brett Beer
  • Silver — Guayaba Berliner Weisse, Fruit Beer
  • Ciervo Rojo Cerveceria
  • Gold — Cheeky Monkey, New England IPA
  • Puerco Salvaje
  • Gold — Barrel Aged Sour, Wood-Aged Beer
  • Rival Brewing Co.
  • Silver — Black Forest, Black IPA

Tecate

  • Cerveza Mexicana Colibre
  • Silver — Colibre Dark Lager, Czech Dark Lager

Tijuana

  • Border Psycho Brewery
  • Silver — Hoptimista, American IPA
  • Silver — Perversa, Double IPA
  • Cerveceria Ramuri
  • Gold — Lagrimas Negras 30A: Spice, Herb, or Vegetable Beer
  • Insurgente
  • Gold — Scotch Scotch Scotch..., Wee Heavy
  • Gold — Rosa Salvaje, Fruit Beer
  • Silver — Dragula, Oatmeal Stout
  • Silver — Imperial Stout, Specialty Wood-Aged Beer
  • Bronze — Brown, American Brown Ale
  • Kaminari Brewing Co
  • Gold — Zaguee, Wild Specialty Beer
  • Silver — Anubis Breakfast, Imperial Stout
  • Silver — Gose Mojito, Fruit and Spice Beer
  • Lúdica Artesanal
  • Bronze — Lambic 2014 23D: Lambic
  • Madueño Brewing Co.
  • Gold — Antares, American Wheat Beer
  • Silver — Myrcene, New England IPA
  • Mamut Brewery Co.
  • Silver — Fractal, American Pale Ale
  • Teorema
  • Silver — Odisea, Berliner Weisse
  • Bronze — Kaiman, Black IPA
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