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Brewers Without Borders

Meet the owners of Cervecería Insurgente

By Erin Chambers Smith | Photo by Luis Garcia

Brewers Without Borders

Damian and Iván Morales of Cervecería Insurgente

Luis Garcia

Brothers Damian and Iván Morales, owners of Cervecería Insurgente, talk about Tijuana’s rising craft beer scene

Should San Diego and Tijuana be considered the same culinary region?

Damian: As far as food, we think that Baja is experiencing a culinary revolution unlike any place we know. It’s really growing and taking on its own character. As for drink, we’d like it to be a region with craft beer leading the way. We think both cities can merge into a craft beer region, but before long, Mexico will start developing its own style.

How are you working to help your customers adapt to hoppier beers and flavors versus the ones traditionally served in Mexico?

Iván: An important part of that is educating bartenders and waiters so they know how to describe and/or pair craft beer. We think the main force behind changing palates comes from consumers themselves. People are tired of the same old beer. And once you try craft, you’re hooked.

What’s the biggest challenge as a craft brewer in Tijuana?

Damian: Taxes are the biggest problem, financially. After taxes, our sales price goes up by about 42 percent. We also need to convince locals our beer is as good as those across the border. That will all come in time and, as an industry, we’re chipping away at it.

Which brewers and brewpubs in San Diego are your favorites?

Iván: Lost Abbey/Port Brewing, Automatic, Societe, Stone, and Alpine.

Damian: Lost Abbey, Alpine, Ballast Point.

Which brewmasters in San Diego would you like to work with? Which ones in Tijuana?

Iván: Tomme Arthur, Mitch Steele, Pat McIlhenney, Lee Chase. Locally we’ve worked with Border Psycho and we’d like to work with Monastika and Silenus.

What are your favorite restaurants in San Diego and in Tijuana?

Iván: In San Diego, I like UnderBelly, Tiger! Tiger!, and Cucina Urbana, among others. In TJ: Erizo, Caza Club, Kokopelli, La Querencia, Tortas el Wash.

Damian: In San Diego: Brooklyn Girl, Cowboy Star, Blind Lady, Alchemy. In TJ: Erizo, Caza Club, La Querencia, Tacos el Franc.

What should San Diegans know about the craft beer scene in Mexico?

Damian: There’s more to Mexican beer than Corona, Modelo, Bohemia, Tecate, etc. We think we are where SD was in the ’90s (beer-wise), but growing and learning very quickly.

Where do you see yourselves in 10 years?

Iván: Hopefully, we’ll have a large(r) brewery with a presence in California and beyond. Maybe some sours?

—Erin Chambers Smith

Try their beers at: Baja Craft Beers tasting room, Orizaba 3003-E5, Fracc. Neidhart, Tijuana, and The Beer Box, Gobernador Sánchez Taboada 4499, Tijuana.

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