For decades, the Tijuana craft beer scene has been in the doldrums, but if twentysomething brothers Ivan and Damian Morales have their way, Cerveceria Insurgente will succeed in “liberating you from the tyranny of flavorless beer.” Their roster currently includes options like Tiniebla witbier, Insurgente Brown and La Lupulosa, which translates from Spanish as “The Hoppy One.” We met at the recent Stone Sour Fest and I subsequently touched base with Ivan via e-mail about Insurgente’s place in Tijuana’s emerging craft beer community and their approach.
What inspired your initial interest in beer?
Living in San Diego, it’s kind of hard no to become interested in beer. We both started growing out of lite beer slowly, drinking some good craft beer. But it wasn’t until we started drinking Belgian beers like Fantome, Duvel, Chouffe that our eyes were first opened.
How did Cerveceria Insurgente come about?
We had been into beer for a while, always getting together to pop open a new bottle or talk about something new we had tried. After a while we decided to start brewing and bought our first kit online. At the time, there were only two or three breweries offering anything different in Mexico, and it was almost impossible to get your hands on anything other than the typical Corona, Tecate, etc. After a few batches brewed, we naturally thought of doing our part in converting Mexican palates.
The name Insurgente is Spanish for insurgent. The name came from the idea that we are essentially rebelling against tasteless beer. Although that may not be that new of a concept in the US, it was unthought of in Mexico until very recently.
What was the first beer that you brewed, and how did it turn out?
It was an American Amber Ale and it was pretty bad. We dumped it out. We were so excited about brewing our first batch, that we had a few too many beers in the process. By the time we were done we were pretty drunk and sort of lost track of what we were doing. It was a lot of fun though!
Why an owl logo?
We wanted an animal as part of our image. An owl just made sense because in the wild it can be an aggressive bird, yet it has an air of elegance and mystery to it. We try to make our beers just like that: aggressive on the palate and with a lot more complexity and elegance than people are used to.
How do you divide the duties?
We tend to divide the brewing responsibilities equally, from brew day to bottling. I tend to handle the PR and contact with accounts, while Damian tends to handle purchases and equipment. When it comes to developing a beer, we both have our input, yet if one of us wants to try something new with a recipe, we’re always OK with it as long as we both agree it’ll make a better beer.
What’s the criteria for a Cerveceria Insurgente beer?