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San Diego brewer spews dust at Telefónica

No lagers made there yet because of water filtration

The stylish Telefónica Gastro Park is home to the first San Diego craft brewery in Tijuana.
The stylish Telefónica Gastro Park is home to the first San Diego craft brewery in Tijuana.

When I bump into SouthNorte brewer Ryan Brooks, he’s covered in dust. The result of milling grain before a brew day, he explains. We’re on the patio of the Coronado Brewing tasting room in Bay Park, out of which Brooks founded SouthNorte Beer Co. one year ago, and where he still makes SouthNorte beer for a U.S. market.

Place

Telefonica Gastro Park

Av. Melchor Ocampo 2036, Tijuana, BC

But that’s not where he wound up covered in dust. That happened at SouthNorte’s new brewing location, in Tijuana.

Ryan Brooks brews SouthNorte beer in Tijuana.

Last month, SouthNorte became the first contemporary San Diego beer company to establish a permanent presence on the Mexican side of the border, when it took over the brewhouse built by stylish street food destination, Telefónica Gastro Park. At the time it debuted, SouthNorte offered hints it might pursue brewing options in Mexico someday, but wanted to focus on opening its own brewhouse in San Diego. However, after a couple of potential locations fell through, the opportunity to set up at Telefónica became too attractive to pass up.

Telefónica started out in 2014 as one or two food trucks doing business on an empty lot each day, and grew in size and popularity to such an extent that it was having to turn trucks away. Last year it moved into a more developed location, where a handpicked assortment of food trucks and stalls encircle an outdoor patio. A brick warehouse building offers additional dining space around a central bar serving a lengthy list of Mexican and American craft brews.

It's behind that bar that the 10-barrel brewhouse sits, and its dust-spewing mill. Telefónica founder Antonio Gamboa says it was originally intended for development of a house beer brand, called Lyrica, but thinks having Brooks and SouthNorte take it over will benefit everyone involved. “Having Ryan here brewing on our system is great,” he says, “not just for us but the people of TJ. They’re getting bad ass beer!”

While the core SouthNorte lineup brewed in Bay Park does now pour south of the border, the beers Brooks produces in Tijuana, stays in Tijuana. San Diego beer fans wishing to try this different set of brews will have to ready their passports.

When I meet up with Brooks again at Telefónica, he’s finishing his sixth brew day there, mindful that he’s brewing for an audience with subtly different palates than drinkers in San Diego. For example, while hoppy beers in the 7-percent alcohol range dominate north of la frontera, “Sweeter works really well down here,” he says, “Porters, brown ales, stouts: chocolaty beers. And most things under 6.5 percent.”

Lagers sell well in Mexico, but for the moment, SouthNorte will supply Tijuana’s taste for Sea Señor lager by importing from San Diego. “There’s no [water] filtration here, so I couldn’t make a lot of the lagers as bright as I could make them in the U.S.” explains Brooks, “It took me three years to do that Sea Señor lager… I’d hate to make a product that is sub par down here.”

Now that he’s adjusted to work on the quirks of the Telefónica system, Brooks has started lining up collaboration beers with brewers from both nations, including a brewery from Monterrey, Mexico that will furnish ingredients indigenous to his region. Such use of ingredients is a common theme for SouthNorte, which just released a first anniversary beer, dubbed Aniversario 1, brewed in coordination with acclaimed Baja chef Javier Plascencia. The dry saison features Mexican honey, the traditional Mexican herb espazote, and finished with cilantro in a process similar to dry hopping.

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The stylish Telefónica Gastro Park is home to the first San Diego craft brewery in Tijuana.
The stylish Telefónica Gastro Park is home to the first San Diego craft brewery in Tijuana.

When I bump into SouthNorte brewer Ryan Brooks, he’s covered in dust. The result of milling grain before a brew day, he explains. We’re on the patio of the Coronado Brewing tasting room in Bay Park, out of which Brooks founded SouthNorte Beer Co. one year ago, and where he still makes SouthNorte beer for a U.S. market.

Place

Telefonica Gastro Park

Av. Melchor Ocampo 2036, Tijuana, BC

But that’s not where he wound up covered in dust. That happened at SouthNorte’s new brewing location, in Tijuana.

Ryan Brooks brews SouthNorte beer in Tijuana.

Last month, SouthNorte became the first contemporary San Diego beer company to establish a permanent presence on the Mexican side of the border, when it took over the brewhouse built by stylish street food destination, Telefónica Gastro Park. At the time it debuted, SouthNorte offered hints it might pursue brewing options in Mexico someday, but wanted to focus on opening its own brewhouse in San Diego. However, after a couple of potential locations fell through, the opportunity to set up at Telefónica became too attractive to pass up.

Telefónica started out in 2014 as one or two food trucks doing business on an empty lot each day, and grew in size and popularity to such an extent that it was having to turn trucks away. Last year it moved into a more developed location, where a handpicked assortment of food trucks and stalls encircle an outdoor patio. A brick warehouse building offers additional dining space around a central bar serving a lengthy list of Mexican and American craft brews.

It's behind that bar that the 10-barrel brewhouse sits, and its dust-spewing mill. Telefónica founder Antonio Gamboa says it was originally intended for development of a house beer brand, called Lyrica, but thinks having Brooks and SouthNorte take it over will benefit everyone involved. “Having Ryan here brewing on our system is great,” he says, “not just for us but the people of TJ. They’re getting bad ass beer!”

While the core SouthNorte lineup brewed in Bay Park does now pour south of the border, the beers Brooks produces in Tijuana, stays in Tijuana. San Diego beer fans wishing to try this different set of brews will have to ready their passports.

When I meet up with Brooks again at Telefónica, he’s finishing his sixth brew day there, mindful that he’s brewing for an audience with subtly different palates than drinkers in San Diego. For example, while hoppy beers in the 7-percent alcohol range dominate north of la frontera, “Sweeter works really well down here,” he says, “Porters, brown ales, stouts: chocolaty beers. And most things under 6.5 percent.”

Lagers sell well in Mexico, but for the moment, SouthNorte will supply Tijuana’s taste for Sea Señor lager by importing from San Diego. “There’s no [water] filtration here, so I couldn’t make a lot of the lagers as bright as I could make them in the U.S.” explains Brooks, “It took me three years to do that Sea Señor lager… I’d hate to make a product that is sub par down here.”

Now that he’s adjusted to work on the quirks of the Telefónica system, Brooks has started lining up collaboration beers with brewers from both nations, including a brewery from Monterrey, Mexico that will furnish ingredients indigenous to his region. Such use of ingredients is a common theme for SouthNorte, which just released a first anniversary beer, dubbed Aniversario 1, brewed in coordination with acclaimed Baja chef Javier Plascencia. The dry saison features Mexican honey, the traditional Mexican herb espazote, and finished with cilantro in a process similar to dry hopping.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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