Interview: Ivan Morales (Tijuana’s Cerveceria Insurgente)

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Brewmaster Tijuana


What’s the criteria for a Cerveceria Insurgente beer?

Our first criteria for us to be happy with a beer is whether or not we would buy that beer here in San Diego. Having such a great offering of beer around, this city has some pretty high standards. We want to deliver quality beer to our customers and hold our standards at the same level San Diegans do.

After that, the beer has to be something that we are excited about. The beer has to have something interesting for us, something we both enjoy. We probably dumped our first six batches before we ever got one we were satisfied with. Someone once said that if you want to be a great brewer, you’re going to have to dump a lot of beer. We definitely did our share of that, although we don’t consider ourselves great just yet.

Would you say that you have any mentors? If so, who, and what did they teach you?

Our two biggest mentors are Jamil Zainasheff and John Palmer. Although we just recently met them, they definitely taught us most of what we know through their books and The Brewing Network. We used to joke around and call Jamil “Jesus” because we followed everything he said on his podcasts.

On the beer business side, we’ve gotten some guidance from the guys at Fireman’s Brew and Skyscraper Brewing in Los Angeles.

Who are some other brewers that you respect, and what do you like about them?

The names that come to mind immediately are Vinnie Cilurzo and Tomme Arthur. Both these guys are putting California on the map for something other than hops and showing a lot of sophistication in their brews. Of course there’s also Jean Van Roy from Cantillon and Dany Prignon from Fantome. And, well, what’s not to like about them? They make some of our favorite beers in the world and we admire them for the complexity and elegance they put into each of their brews.

Where is your beer available, and which beers do you currently offer?

Right now it’s at La Tasca , a bar on 6th St in downtown Tijuana, and at their retail location Tasca Boutique. We’re on tap at Via Gourmet, a gourmet food-court as well as in Tecate at a bar called Caza Club. We plan to be in a couple of more retail locations within the next couple of months, and you can always find out where our brews are sold at our website or facebook.

Where can people find and drink craft beer in Tijuana?

Downtown TJ has become the best spot for that. La Tasca and La Zebra have a good variety of American, Mexican, and European brews. If you want some retail spots, you should check out Beer Box, Beer City, and Tasca Boutique.

Is there anybody else brewing craft beer in Tijuana? In Baja?

Baja has had a boom in craft beer within the last year and a half. When we started out, there were two true craft breweries, Cucapa and Tijuana, plus about 3 other nano’s. Now, there are about 7 nano’s in TJ, probably another 7 in Ensenada. It’s a great thing, we’re all working together for the same goal, we help each other out as much as we can, and all for the love of beer. Look for Baja to be a beer hub in Mexico pretty soon.

If you could only drink one more beer, what would it be, and how come? Also, where would you drink that final beer?

Ivan Morales: This is a very, very hard question. I think I would go with a Fantome Saison on an island somewhere, just because I love the beach and I think Consecration isn’t a very beach-y beer.

Damian Morales: I’d probably drink Insurgente’s Cuvee, problem is it doesn’t exist yet, So, if I had to chose something in existence I’d look for a 750ml bottle of supplication and enjoy its cocktail of critters along with the vinous complexity of the pinot noir barrels. Pucker up!


Joshua Lurie

Joshua Lurie founded FoodGPS in 2005. Read about him here.

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