1st Impression – Cerveza Bocanegra

Considering I am fairly darn close to Mexico, I should be better plugged in to their beers but sometimes I lose track, case in point, Cerveza Bocanegra.

I was contacted by a PR firm offering a media event in that beer hot bed of Vernon. I could not make that date and time and eventually settled for asking some e-mail questions.

But before I wrote my questions, I did a little Google search and voila, I find that Bocanegra is part of ZX Ventures which is part of SABInBev. (that little fact was not brought up in any of the previous e-mails, not surprisingly)

Of course, I still asked my questions, here are the answers that I got back from Checo and Guillermo…

1. Why the combo of a Dunkel and a Pils as the introduction to L.A. and New York?
We love food and we love pairing food with beer. So when Bocanegra came to be, we wanted to make delicious beers that enrich consumers’ gastronomic experiences — that’s why we started with a pilsner and dunkel weizen. They pair well with Mexican fare and a wide array of other cuisines as well. For instance, the pilsner with seafood, creamy pastas, light meats and refreshing desserts like key lime pie; and the dunkel complements a perfectly cooked steak, heavier sauces and stews or chocolate desserts.

2. Tell me about the brewmaster for Cerveza Bocanegra and the philosophy behind the beers.
Bocanegra was born as a project between us two friends, Sergio “Checo” Elías Gutiérrez, a lawyer, and Guillermo González Beristáin, a Top Chef in Mexico. Again, we both love food and beer and thought, why not us? So we sought out to create a beer that honored Mexico — the cuisine, culture and people of our country. We were of course scared to take the risk, but were truly inspired after meeting a homebrewer at La Fonda San Francisco, who had made a beer with great flavor and body without any kind of sophisticated equipment.

It started with Checo sending beers to his family and friends as Christmas gifts. We brewed 150 bottles of pilsner and one year later, 500 cases. From there, we turned to the dunkel weizen.

Bocanegra is not just a beer, it’s a movement. We seek to bring forth the richness of Mexico’s culinary tradition – where products, techniques and recipes from all over the world have intersected to create a hugely underappreciated gastronomic culture.

3. Are there any other beers that are in the portfolio or in the pipeline?
Bocanegra’s American Wheat is currently available in Mexico. We’re also working on a collaboration that unites industries, frontiers and types of beverages. We’re currently collaborating on a project with Birra del Borgo (Italy), a mexican winery and of course Bocanegra Beer and hope that the next innovation for Bocanegra will be a combination of wine and beer. Exciting things to come.

4. How has Bocanegra changed since it was bought by ZX Ventures and how does it fit into the wider foreign investments that ABInBev has made?
Bocanegra operates as it did before – with passion, authenticity and collaboration, and a focus on Mexico’s gastronomic culture. We’re excited that the partnership has allowed us to expand distribution into New York and Los Angeles. Bocanegra plays a special role in the wider ABInvBev portfolio because it’s a unique and authentic partnership with the culinary world, not just within the boundaries of beer.

5. What has the craft fans blowback been from becoming part of the largest beer company?
We’ve stayed true to who we are and remain focused on Bocanegra’s mission: to refresh and redefine what Mexican gastronomy is all about.

We are very proud of the partnership because it allow us to show the level of great beer being produced in Mexico. Quality is our most important endeavor.

6. Is the beer brewed in Mexico still or is it being brewed in Van Nuys or Fairfield also?
Bocanegra is brewed at a small brewery in Tijuana, Baja California.

7. What is your take on the brewing scene in Mexico. Any exciting new beer styles on the horizon? Or styles that are due for a resurgence?
Of course, Mexican import beer is no stranger to the U.S. market. For years, it has been defined by light lagers to be enjoyed in the summer heat. What hasn’t been in the spotlight, however, is Mexican craft beer. We’re looking to change that with bodied, flavorful Mexican beers.

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