Stubborn, intelligent and versatile, the donkey serves as a brand ambassador for Cabotella. (Courtesy)
There's a new burro in town, muchachos. Baja Brewing is making inroads into the SA market with a launch of its flagship beer, Cabotella. Jordan Gardenhire, founder and brewmaster, and Adam Wallach, US Sales Manager, visited our offices while on their launch to chat about the beer and how Baja Brewing got its start.
1. Baja Brewing is the first microbrewery in the Mexican state of Baja California Sur.
"It took about two years to go from concept to opening up the brewery in Cabo. There were permitting issues. We were the first brewery in the whole state of Baja California Sur, so they didn’t know what permits we needed. Getting the equipment (from the US), installing it
so yeah, there were a few hurdles," said Gardenhire.
2. Why Cabo?
"I was brewing beer in college. After college I wanted to go somewhere, learn Spanish and learn how to surf. That was my only goal. So I went to Cabo. My plan was to live there for a year or so, work a little bit, and basically do nothing. After a bout a year there, I loved it. I decided to try and figure out a way to stay. With my dad and Rob Kelly, we came up with this project and started it."
3. What's a Cabotella?
"It’s a combination of Cabo and Botella (bottle in Spanish), so it’s like Cabo in a bottle. It's pronounced CAH-bo-TAY-uh. Some people don’t get it and they’ll pronounce it Cabotela, the double L gets you. It’s an ale instead of a lager, and it’s an easy drinking Mexican beer, but it’s got a lot more body and flavor to it. It’s a craft beer, but it’s made for the hot weather in Cabo. It’s made with 100 percent malted barley."
4. What was the process for creating Cabotella like?
"This was the longest one to make, but because we have the brewpubs (Baja Brewing owns three brewpubs in Cabo), I was able to make a batch and test it and hear what people said, and then another batch, and then another batch. This went through at least 50 different iterations over five years, it’s actually the product of a lot of work. This is our first one and only one right now."
5. Where can you find Cabotella now?
It's available throughout Texas, including San Antonio, as well as in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and soon, California. San Antonians can find Cabotella at more than two dozen area locations including La Fonda Mexican Restaurant, The 151 Saloon, Gabriel's, and Spec's.
6. What's the rest of the line look like?
"We make eight beers in total. Six in bottles. We have a black ale which is easy drinking, an amber ale which is very much microbrew style, a little bit hoppier and maltier, we do an American Pale Ale which is our hoppiest; a Heffewiessen and an oatmeal stout. We do a lot of seasonals, too. We did a local honey beer this summer and in the past we did a local mango beer. They’re very seasonal. In August, they’re basically all over the ground. We went out and picked over 4,000 mangoes one day and basically spent two days with six people–skinning them and coring them and juicing them. And we threw it in there and made a really delicious mango beer," Gardenhire said.