Playami Beer Garden in Playas de Tijuana

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The craft beer scene in Baja California continues to grow with the opening earlier this year of Playami, a beer garden by Border Psycho, located in Playas de Tijuana. Playas is a short, $10 Uber from the border, it’s a small, sleepy beach town that everyone drives by on their way to Rosarito and Ensenada. I have friends that have lived there for the past 5 years and on my first visit I was surprised by how quiet the town is, but that was 5 years ago and there is now a fun night life. 5 years ago if you wanted to drink and whoop it up you had to go to Tijuana so with the opening of Playami you can just walk or Uber it over and enjoy craft beer from 5 Baja breweries. Yep, Border Psycho has not only their delicious suds on the menu but they carry beer from Insurgente, Agua Mala, Fauna and Wendlant. There is also Mezcal, tequila and wine on the menu and if you’re hankering for a Heineken they have that too!

But wait, there’s more..

Border Psycho Brewery was founded in 2010 by brothers, Roberto and Javier Albarran, and they have built one of the most popular Baja craft beer breweries in Tijuana and are distributed throughout Southern California, they also collaborate with San Diego brewery, Mason Ale Works. Playami is their third tasting room and they went all in with a coffee roaster, Sur A Norte, that opens at 8 am, Karbon, a grill that also open at 8 am for breakfast, wine from Valle de Guadalupe and the 36 to 40 taps of beer. The tasting room is very comfortable, there’s plenty of room inside and the patio outside is pet friendly and features second story patio to soak in the rays while you enjoy the food and drink.

On my first visit I enjoyed some shrimp tacos with a few brews, I had the hoppy Mako Pale Ale from Agua Mala and then I had to try the Zonkey Coffee Stout which is a collab with Mason Ale Works, this version was barrel aged and was so good! My second visit was to try the coffee, I went with a French Press of some mild roast beans from Veracruz and an order of churros that were made in house. Awesome!! The third wave coffee movement game is strong in Playas, they source their beans from different regions in Mexico and I found them to all be very tasty.

Playami is a one stop, get your beer/coffee/food/tequila/mezcal kind of a place, a real game changer as far as I’m concerned. Everything was top quality, the menu at Karbon had a good variety from breakfast, lunch, dinner and appetizers. If you don’t want the hassle of dealing with traffic in Tijuana I would definitely make a trip to Playas de Tijuana! Cheers!!

Playami is located at 795 Av, Paseo Ensenada, Playas de Tijuana


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Gunwhale Brewery and Taproom

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The award winning brewery, Gunwhale Ales, has opened a second location in the city of Orange. This new Brewery and Taproom is a few blocks east of Anaheim Stadium and just south of the Honda Center, it’s also a few minutes from Old Towne Orange. The address is 1501 W. Orangewood Ave., it’s set in an industrial park across from El Camino Park, with a huge outdoor patio this new Gunwhale Brewery and Taproom will be the perfect spot to chill before an Angel game, Duck game or concert.

Gunwhale Ales was founded in 2016 by Justin Miller, JT Wallace and Bobby Fitzgerald, in 2017 they brought on Head Brewmaster and Orange native, Kevin Hammons, they specialize in yeast driven Saisons and Farmhouse Ales. In 2018 they won a Bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their Classic Saison, Hayshaker. Along with the Saisons you will find a great variety of IPA’s, Hazy IPA’s, Sours and Stouts. On my recent visit I enjoyed Shellmaker 5.5% ABV Oyster Dry Stout, using whole oysters in the boil this stout was such a treat. A hint of brine with a full roasty stout profile and at 5.5% it’s not so boozy woozy, it was extremely enjoyable. Of course I couldn’t leave without having a Hayshaker 6.4% ABV, it truly is a Classic! Crisp and refreshing, this Saison is on point!

The Taproom is nice and roomy, plenty of seating with a view of the production area, this new location will allow Gunwhale to increase their output and creativity. Like their Costa Mesa location the founders have put their personal stamp on the art and woodwork both inside and out. There’s plenty of parking and it’s pet friendly with a family atmosphere. Food trucks will be scheduled but if you know the area there are plenty of places to pick up a bite. I have the number of the local Zito’s Pizza on speed dial if you want it!! 🍕🍻😊

I encourage my fellow homebrewers, Cerveceros and Cerveceras, to visit Gunwhale Brewery and Taproom for some tasty brews, let’s meet up! Cheers and Congratulations to everyone at Gunwhale Ales on  the new location!!

Gunwhale Brewery and Taproom, 1501 W. Orangewood Ave.,Ste 101 Orange Ca 92686  949-239-9074

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Landing Strip Raspberry Blonde Ale; SoCal Cerveceras!
SoCal Cerveceras Brew Day

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Every weekend homebrewers meet up for a brew day which typically can last 6 to 8 hours so food is also included in the planning. They will decide on the style of beer that will be brewed, build the recipe, maybe add some fruit, coffee or spices to the mix. Typically brew days are male dominant occasions but on this particular brew day in a backyard in South Central Los Angeles the participants were all female. They are all members of the fastest growing Latino homebrew club in the United States, SoCal Cerveceros, the club was founded in 2015 in a backyard with 6 friends and at last count has over 150 members. With the encouragement of co-founder and current club President, Ray Ricky Rivera, the women of the club wanted to get together for an all women brew day so they invited current female members and home brew curious friends to the home of Laurie Gutierrez. The results of that brew day were a Raspberry Blonde Ale (using Kölsch yeast) that was labeled Landing Strip, the members also named their group SoCal Cerveceras and became a group within the SoCal Cerveceros. 👏👏👏👏

A momentous event especially when diversity in craft beer is a major topic. A recent Boston Globe article addressed this issue, titled, “Craft beer’s diversity problem: Too many white male hipsters” written by Shirley Leung was blunt and to the point, “whites account for 77 percent of the market, while Hispanics are 10.6 percent, blacks constitute 5.4 percent, and Asians are 5.1 percent”. The Brewers Association recently appointed a Diversity Ambassador, Dr. J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham, this past April SoCal Cervecero co-founder Agustin Ruelas was invited to participate in a panel conducted by Dr. J, as she is known in the craft beer community, at the Craft Brewers Conference held in Denver, a seat at the table is always a good first step.

Women brewing craft beer shouldn’t be such a surprise, the original brewers were women, dating back to 1800 B.C., Ninkasi Sumerian Goddess of Beer, women were the brewers up until the 1500’s when men formed brewing guilds and started to make specific rules for brewing. In 2007 Teri Fahrendorf founded the Pink Boots Society, the first meeting was held with 22 women and now has a worldwide presence to help promote and train women in the craft beer community. In Atlanta you can find the Dames and Dregs Beer Festival which honors past, present, and future women in the beer industry.

The first brew day of the SoCal Cerveceras was led by Laurie Gutierrez of Cimarron Street’s Finest, (she brews delicious ciders), Janet Aguilar of Wasted Brewery, Janet brews with her boyfriend, Sal Bernal, they can be found drinking beer from Ensenada to Delaware and everywhere in between, and Tyler Sadler, Tyler started brewing in her kitchen in 1 gallon batches. The other Cerveceras in attendance were Catrina Acosta, Maria Preciado, Melanie Faure, Sarah Flora, Ash Eliot, Jackie Correjo, Lourdes Ceja, Marie Madrid and Adriana Bautista. I was fortunate to get a couple of swigs of Landing Strip, it was very crisp and refreshing, the Kölsch yeast was a great idea, it gave the Blonde Ale that extra brightness, the raspberry was subtle, not too sweet at all, it was perfect for the summer heat. The next SoCal Cervecera brew day is tentatively planned for November, follow the Cerveceras on Instagram for any future news and info.

The importance of the SoCal Cerveceras can not be understated, the group is open to all levels of experienced women brewers, it’s a great opportunity for anyone that is interested in learning about craft beer, I’d like to tell you more about the SoCal Cerveceras Brew Day but what happens in South Central, Stays in South Central!!!

BobbyKnowsBeer! Cheers!!

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SoCal Cerveceros presents ColdXela 2019
How I went from Writing about SoCal Cerveceros to brewing with Socal Cerveceros

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On April 27, 2019 SoCal Cerveceros held ColdXela 2019 in Downtown L.A. at La Plaza de Cultura y Artes. SoCal Cerveceros is the largest Latino focused home brew club in the United States, they formed in 2015, with a handful of members and now have 140 members and counting. In 2018 Anchor Brewing named them the 2018 California Homebrew Club of the Year, many of the members are award winning home brewers and soon a few of the groups will be opening their own breweries.

I’ve been writing about the group since 2017, at the time I was  the beer critic for the OC Weekly, my editor, Gustavo Arellano, forwarded an email sent by then SoCal Cervecero Vice-President Ray Ricky Rivera, an invitation to their event, the email also included a short promotional video that I watched over and over again because I couldn’t believe that these Latino homebrewers existed. I had been approached earlier that year by a couple of guys looking to make a documentary about homebrewers and asked if I knew any POC brewers. Of course I said no, in my visits to the breweries in Orange County the only person of color was usually me, I even asked around and I couldn’t come up with anyone, male or female. But here they were brewing in plain sight, the SoCal Cerveceros! That year the event  featured 9 groups and was a great success which led to last year’s Coldchela 2018 with 20 groups pouring their home brewed beers and 400 people attending. I was a judge at last year’s event and I was considered an honorary member until this past year when I joined as a full member. This review will not be about the specific beers poured at this year’s event, sorry, I will tell you how I went from writing about beer to brewing my own beer and pouring it at ColdXela 2019. I’ve been on the brink of homebrewing but I wasn’t quite ready, now that I have retired I have plenty of time to brew, I had a lot of help along the way, which is one of the reasons for joining a home brew club. If you are interested in home brewing this story might help you decide, there are home brew clubs everywhere and I recommend joining one for the support.

I initially hesitated at home brewing because I knew that I would disappear into my garage and no one would ever see me again, which pretty much did happen. This isn’t a hobby you can just dabble in, especially at first, there is so much to learn, whoever told me that brewing beer was easy was lying!! Ha! Writing about craft beer gave me an insight to what goes on in the craft beer community, then when I decided to start my own website so that I could write more than just reviews I also conducted interviews with a couple of home brewers and I then had a front row seat to their world. My very first interview was with Thien Le, an award winning home brewer from Anaheim, he belongs to the OC Mashups, they meet at Barley Forge Brewing in Costa Mesa. We of course talked quite a bit for his interview, we then have become friends and he has been a tremendous help, I hope I can follow in his footsteps and eventually win a few awards, if not I want to at least brew a decent beer for my friends. I was very interested in the brew in a bag method of brewing beer, I even attended a class  in Santa Ana at El Indio Cerveza y Botanas, held by bartender and homebrewer, Robert Ramirez,  it was very helpful in making my decision, Robert and his girlfriend, Bee Ramirez(@beer_and_adventures on IG) also poured at ColdXela 2019, they’re brewery is named Obscuridad Brewing, follow them on the gram.

I decided to buy a Grainfather brewing system when I saw one on Craigslist selling for $500, they cost $1000 brand new so I asked Thien(who brews with one) if that was a good deal, he said, “if you don’t buy it I will!” Done! The seller had a stainless steel fermenter which I also bought along with a few odds and ends. I bought most of my stuff on Craigslist, it’s cheaper but beware that you should know exactly what you are buying, the fermenter was missing the racking tube which I had no idea what that was until I was going to brew one day and realized that I needed to buy one. My mistake for not knowing!! You can get good deals on CL but please do your research or have an experienced brewer go with you so they can help inspect the item. It took me a few months to accumulate the parts and equipment for my brewery, chest freezer I bought new, mini fridge I found one on CL, CO2 tank CL, everything else I am going to Windsor Home Brew Supply Co. in Costa Mesa, Scott is very helpful, he carries just about everything you need to brew.

My first brewday I started at 10 am to clean and sanitize my equipment, first rule about brewing: Clean. Clean. Clean. Then Clean some more. I worked for 43 years as a meatcutter and having a clean shop was also a very important rule in the meat department so I’m pretty good at getting everything spic and span. My Grainfather works hand in hand with my iPad where I have the Grainfather app, as a beginner I feel the need to have as much guidance as I can get and the app will tell you what you need to do as you brew, when to add the hops, it will automatically start the boil, etc. I also watched a ton of videos on YouTube so I could get familiar with the Grainfather but nothing can prepare you for anything until you actually do it. I found this out right away, my first mistake, and I made plenty, led to all the other mistakes that I would encounter on my first brewday. I really fucked up and I’m still surprised that the beer survived and was drinkable, it took me 12 hours to finish brewing my first beer. It reminded me of my first time skiing, my friends took me to Snow Summit and we went to the top of the ski slope, they said see you at the bottom! It took me over an hour to get to the bottom, I was exhausted.

When my water got to the right temp and the Grainfather app indicated to start the mash, I forgot to put the basket in the Grainfather, I started the mash and I felt like, wow, this is cool, I’m making beer, then about halfway through I saw the basket and realized I made a huge error, I had my brother help me pour out the mash into a bucket and put the basket into the Grainfather, I then poured back the mash and continued, everything seemed fine, it took me until the next day to realize that when we lifted the Grainfather to pour out the mash, we partially pulled out the power cord, the cord did eventually fall out right when the water got to the boil temp, it took me some time to figure out what to do, we reset the Grainfather, I panicked when the power went out, I didn’t know what was going on so I threw all the hops and orange zest into the wort, I thought if this is the hottest it’s going to get I better get these hops in there. I don’t have a kettle or I would have just continued to boil the traditional way. Everything just seemed to take so much time, once I got it going again, cooling down the wort took forever, I finally got it into the fermenter around midnight, I was done. I closed the garage up, went inside and said to no one, who wants to buy a Grainfather!

I did take a gravity reading but honestly I don’t know what it read, I was too tired. A week later I checked on the beer, it tasted ok, a little hoppy and the finish was somewhat bitter. On the tenth day I added a can of mango puree and some Tajin, I wanted to see if that would temper down the hoppiness and mask the bitterness. After another week I kegged and carbonated it at 30 psi, I didn’t taste it at that point I wanted to wait. Two days later I poured a glass, it was foamy, I think there’s a leak in the gas out post, after it settled it tasted fine, I’ve had worse, it wasn’t going to win any awards but as I sat there I poured a few tasters and I liked it. It wasn’t what I intended it to be, an Anchor Steam clone, but I felt I could pour it at SoCal Cerveceros event, ColdXela, so I emailed the club Presidente, Ray Ricky Rivera, he told me that someone had dropped out so I was in luck, there was a spot for me. Yay!

ColdXela 2019 had 52 brewers, we were paired up so there were 26 tents, my partner was Daniel Moreno, his specialty is ciders and he’s very good at making them. There were 3 live bands, DJ’s and food vendors, the event attracted 1500 craft beer enthusiasts, it was a tremendous success raising money for the Gumball Foundation. I brought my one keg and knew I would run out which would give me time to walk around and try some of the beers, well it got pretty busy, we had a great time pouring and talking to all the guests, which included the founders of Cerveza XTECA, Fred Sotelo, Mario Lopez and Xavier the X-Man, they were very gracious with their support and advice. Also in attendance were David and Carmen Favela, owners of Border X Brewing, they also tried and liked my Orange County Common, I’m looking forward to visiting their new Brewery in the city of Bell, where fellow Cervecero, Lewis Martinez of Preston Brewing is working his hops off.  When my beer kicked at 4:30 I was too tired to walk anywhere, my brother and I just kicked back and watched everyone else as most of the other brewers also ran out of beer. I saw a lot of feedback on Instagram and from what I read everyone had a fantastic time trying all the different styles of beers that were offered, IMHO at niche craft beer festivals like ColdXela you will find more experimental type of beers that you won’t find at the commercial type of fests, homebrewers brew usually in 5 gallon batches and will take more risks with exotic adjuncts than a bigger commercial brewery that brews in huge amounts.

I wish I could tell you about the different beers that were poured at ColdXela 2019, I talked to Sarah Bennett for a bit so I hope she will write a review, I can tell you that it was an amazing experience from the brewer point of view, I received constructive criticism from my fellow brewers, for the most part they said I did good for my first time brewing, the guests liked my beer, I provided lime juice and Tajin on the rim of their cups, that was a big hit. My next beer to brew will be an British IPA, I like maltier beers, I learned a lot just watching how the experienced brewers set up their equipment, next year I hope to bring more than one keg, because next year’s ColdXela will be bigger and better!! Cheers!!!  BobbyBrewsBeer!!

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Roast and Toast at Brot Coffee in Orange!

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Finding a good cup of coffee isn’t too difficult in Orange County, latte’s and macchiato’s are flowing on every other corner in town, but Brot Coffee in Orange combines  2 of my favorites, coffee and toast! I’m a self professed #coffeesnob and I ❤ toast! So going to Brot for me is an act of self-care, owner Adrian Contreras offers a wide variety of coffee, teas, iced beverages, Kuhl along with loaves of bread for toast, a huge list of toppings for the toast, bagels, cookies, kouign amann and demi-baguettes.

I drink my coffee black, no sugar or cream, and I really love that Brot gives you the choice of 6 different kinds of coffee beans when you request a pour over or French press, they do change occasionally. The beans are roasted in house, you can see the roaster in an adjacent room where Adrian does his magic, he has me hooked on the perfection he puts on roasting the various coffees. Most of the beans are mild in taste and Adrian brings out every nuance, fruitiness, caramels, nuttiness that are hidden within every bean. Led by Manager, Stephen Schreiber, the crew at Brot Coffee are ready to complete your order with the special care you deserve, thick slices of bread, toasted as you like, toppings include jam, banana, plum butter, Irish butter, vegan butter, almond butter, Nutella, cream cheese, avocado, hard boiled egg, salsa, organic peanut butter and seasoned olive oil.  Bread choices are Bagnat, Brioche, Campagne, Cinnamon swirl, Gluten free, Italian country, Multi grain, pumpernickel, roasted garlic and rosemary, sourdough, squaw and my current favorite, Walnut cranberry batard. Bakery items are sourced locally from Artisan Bakery, BREAD in Santa Ana and are subject to availability.

Brot Coffee is located in Orange next to a recently closed Staples store, it’s close to St. Joseph Hospital and Hollingshead Deli. Adrian recently added some long communal tables to utilize the space and add seating to the popular coffee house. I hope you enjoy your visit as much as I do, take your time to take in all that Brot Coffee has to offer, Roast and Toast is the new Netflix and Chill! Ha! #BobbyKnowsCoffee!

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Finca Altozano Valle de Guadalupe

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Last year was my first experience visiting the Valle de Guadalupe, we did a day tour with friends and had such a blast my sister did some research and booked us a room and made reservations at Javier Plascencia’s restaurant Fina Altozano. The Ruta de Vino is flush with wineries, restaurants and a few breweries, there’s so many to choose from but we went with the man responsible for the resurgence in the food scene in Tijuana, Javier Plascencia born and raised in Tijuana is credited with creating the Baja Mediterranean style of cooking, he utilizes the fresh seafood and abundance of produce that are indigenous to the region. He grew up working in the family business, a pizzeria empire called Giuseppis, he studied culinary arts in San Diego starting at the age of 16, working in various restaurants in San Diego and around the world. He returned to Tijuana and in 2011 he opened his first Restaurant, Misión 19 , introducing his Baja Med dishes to the food universe. He now has restaurants in Tijuana, Miami, Valle de Guadalupe and the magical town of Todo Santos which is an hour north of Cabo San Lucas. From 2015 to 2017 he operated a place in San Diego, Bracero Cocina de Raiz, it was nominated for a James Beard award in 2016 but is no longer open.

Denise was able to book us a 3:00 pm reservation on the Saturday after the Ensenada Beer Fest, there weren’t any dinner times available but the afternoon sitting turned out to be a very good choice as it gets pretty cold in the valle once the sun starts to set, summer might be a little different weather wise. Finca Altozano is not only a restaurant but there is a separate coffee shop and lunch hut, farm animals are nearby fattening up for a future grilling, yes this is a meatcentric menu. They sat us promptly at 3:00 and our foodie adventure began. Fresh bread was brought to our table and we ordered 2 glasses of white wine, all the wines are from the Valle and Denise knows her grapes so she picked our vino. Not all wines are available by the glass but the ones she picked were excellent and went for about $5 a glass. BOOM. We ordered for our appetizers fried Brussels Sprouts and an order of grilled sausage, the menu didn’t indicate what type of sausage it was but it was mildly spicy, tasted like chorizo, came with some greens, the Brussels Sprouts were perfectly fried, crispy and tender. We both picked dry aged steak for our main course but there were many options, seafood, lamb, pork, quail, pasta dishes, chicken, but steak won out. The dinners came with beans, a small salad, more bread and freshly made tortillas, both corn and flour. The ambiance at Finca Altozano is ranchero casual, most of the other guests were local residents, we didn’t feel rushed, rather it seemed like they encouraged us to take our time. Our second glass of wine was a red, I’m a beer guy and don’t know much about wine, I trusted my sis to handle picking our vino, she did a great job, this wine was very good, I really enjoyed it.  It started off sweet and fruity but as it opened up it became mature in flavor, amazing how a good wine does that over time. So we just took our time with each course, with each sip of wine, this is why you take time off, to enjoy new places, discovering spots in Tijuana, Ensenada and now Valle de Guadalupe is kind of my thing right now. Craft beer is booming, new restaurants are everywhere, the tacos are the best and people are super nice and friendly. We shared a dessert of churros and  I was done, we got our bill and I was expecting close to $200 but the total was $105 for everything. Worth every penny/peso!!

There’s so much more to discover here in the Valle de Guadalupe, I encourage everyone to come down and first take a tour, it’s a huge area, if you have a truck bring it, ha! A lot of the hotels and restaurants are off the beaten path on dirt roads that are very uneven, I drove my mini van which survived but I recommend a car that sits a little higher. Provecho!ensenada,

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La Cocina de Doña Esthela in Valle de Guadalupe

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“Worth the wait” “Best Breakfast Ever!” “Amazing!” are just a few of the comments I’ve heard over the years in regards to the food at la Cocina de Doña Esthela which is located off a dirt road in the Valle de Guadalupe. Now that I’ve been there I have to agree 110% on all these accolades. In 2015 the website FoodieHub named Doña Esthela’s restaurant “Best Breakfast in the World” .

From Bourdain to Bayless famous chef’s have raved about her cooking, I have to give credit to my newest favorite show on PBS, Pati’s Mexican Table, especially Season 7 which was dedicated exclusively to Baja California. Chef Pati Jinich took her show from Tijuana to Cabo and with each episode she highlighted a different city and chef. In Episode 4, Season 7 she visits Doña Esthela for an inside look at the now legendary chef. Season 7 is available on Amazon Prime if you have that service.

My adventure included my sister, Denise and brother, Jeffrey, Denise actually made all the plans to get to the Cocina, if you’ve never been to the Valle de Guadalupe it’s right before you get to Ensenada, you take Highway 3 and you will find vineyard after vineyard, wineries and some great chef driven restaurants( my next review!). There’s a main highway but most of the places to eat and drink are offroad. Next time I’m driving my Tundra down there to better handle these roads, it was a little treacherous with my van but we made it as does everyone, and it’s worth it!

We had to wait about 50 minutes for our table, of course we expected this, once we were seated the service was quick, very quick. The servers are so busy they are practically running to make sure all the orders are taken care of in a timely manner. The big thing here is obviously breakfast but the slow roasted lamb comes in a very close second, next time I will go for that part of the menu but today was all about breakfast! We all order café de olla and decided on our choices, they bring out a plate of queso fresco, chips and salsa for you to munch on and it was all delicious. Jeff and I always order fresh orange juice because it’s FRESH! and about half the price that you would pay in the States.

Our plates came quick, Denise ordered Huevos Rancheros, Jeff ordered the machaca and I ordered a combination plate of 2 eggs, chilaquiles verde, machaca and beans, Denise also ordered a stack of the sweet elote pancakes. We were given a stack of fresh tortillas and away we went! At first our table was silent as we started our meals, after a few minutes the oohs and ahhs started. The food was absolutely amazing! Yes, this was simple Mexican food but everything was just the best Mexican food. EVER. The beans were perfect! The machaca was to die for! Denise said her huevos rancheros were the Best she ever had. Then we each had a pancake. Ay. Dios . Mio. They come with syrup but it wasn’t really necessary, they were sweet and corny, very dessert like and to be honest I don’t really like pancakes, but these were spectacular! Midway through our meal Doña Esthela popped out of the kitchen and came to our table to say hi and she noticed we needed more tortillas. We all sat there with our mouths open, frozen, I was able to take her picture and mumbled a muchas gracias. She turned around a went to get us more tortillas, it was a nice surprise to see La Doña, she came back with the tortillas, smiled, and went around greeting the other customers while we sat there still frozen. We eventually finished our plates, the check came and our bill was around $32 for everything. Thirty Two dollars. Total. For the Best Breakfast in the World! It’s worth the wait! Amazing! Best breakfast Ever!!!

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2019 Ensenada Beer Fest!

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Before I tell you how much fun the 2019 Ensenada Beer Fest was why don’t you tell me why you didn’t go? You don’t like craft beer from 120 breweries?  You don’t like Live music from 5 different stages?  Or maybe you don’t like great food, not just Mexican food but everything from pizza to sushi was offered at this year’s Fest. This was the ninth year of the EBF and it just keeps getting better, the music was great, more live acts this year, the beer was also markedly improved, so let me say this for those in the back, Go! Go! Go! to next year’s EBF!!

Our trip started with a pit stop for lunch in Rosarito, we stopped at Tacos El Yaqui, if you have never been then mark this on your foodie bucket list. These tacos are BOMB! Please refer to the picture I posted, they are huge, they’re packed with carne asada that is grilled right before your eyes, then they add beans, guacamole, salsa all in a sturdy AF flour tortilla. I had 2 of these bad boys but I probably should have just had 1 so my food coma wasn’t so intense.  We drove in on Thursday, the event is on Friday and Saturday and tickets go for $500 pesos( about $25 to $27) beers are not included but they do offer very small tasters for free, a pint will go for $3.50. If you only want to attend one night then buy your tickets ASAP because Saturday sells out fast. I attend on Friday so tickets were still available on the day of the event. If you don’t want to drive there are groups that meet in San Diego and take the bus R/T, Google Ensenada Beer fest 2019 and you will find different groups, some even offering hotels if you want to stay the night. We go on Friday and leave Saturday for the Valle de Guadalupe, but that’s another review.

We stayed right across the street at the Corona Hotel and Spa, there’s also Airbnb available and of course other hotels but book early for the best deals! Friday we had a great breakfast at my favorite spot in downtown Ensenada, El Rey Sol, It’s an old school restaurant with a big dining room complete with a piano player tickling the ivories as you eat, I really enjoyed the shrimp omelette with a slightly spicy cilantro sauce. YUM! For lunch we paid a visit to Tacos El Fenix, some of the best shrimp and fish tacos in town! The Beer fest started at 4 PM so we wanted to make sure we had a good base going, we’re professionals. Ha!

It was almost 5 PM by the time we walked into the fest, outside I could hear the music and I was surprised that it was a live band playing, I thought a DJ was playing, the band was so good, Pearl Jam, RATM, The Cure, Nirvana, one after another they killed it! My first beer was a Hazy IPA from Heisenberg Brewing, they won a Gold Medal for it and it was GOOOOOD!!! Seriously. Very good stuff from one of the oldest breweries in Ensenada. Cheers! We went around trying little tasters from different breweries, all good too, I finally had a full pour from another old school joint, Insurgente, I was hoping they would be pouring their version of Xocoveza but no luck, I did enjoy their La Lupulosa, their intense IPA that is both hoppy and malty, best of both worlds. Viva Mexico! From there I went to visit my buddy, Charlie Carillo from Zombie Labs, last year they had won for a stout and again this year they won again! Click the link for our interview! Everything is going great with Charlie except that they had to close their tasting room in downtown Ensenada, they are looking for another location, I hope so, their beer is tasty!! I drank a full pour of Zombie Lab’s stout then went inside the complex to meet up with some friends, this year like the year’s past we have a great group of friend’s that we meet up with and get muy borracho, this year I also met up with a few friends from the home brew club I belong to, SoCal Cerveceros, the largest and fastest growing Latino home brew club in America. There’s another stage inside so we enjoyed some salsa music and a few more beers. I also met Paul Woronicz, originally from Boston but has lived and brewed in Ensenada for the last 10 years, he is the owner of Old Mission Brewing, his mole stout was phenomenal!! After drinking a full pour of the mole stout I went to say hi to Benjamin Wood who I had met last year at EBF, he is owner of Hairy Nose Brewery from Tijuana, he told me that he’s pouring his suds in a tasting room in Tijuana called Colectivo Cervecero La 20 Tasting Room. I’m looking forward to paying a visit to La 20 on my next visit to Tijuana. Ajua!

Unfortunately this is all I can remember, Ha! I did notice that there were not as many breweries from San Diego this year. In the past there was always a few, in fact last year there were at least 10. I hope you try to make next year’s Ensenada Beer fest, you won’t be disappointed! Cheers!!


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