A Spanish rock playlist sounded in the background at El Tapeo; it was about 6 in the afternoon, I was offered one of the new house craft beers while I waited for my interview with craft brewer Martin Quintero to begin.
An ambiance enhanced by wood fixtures on the wall, ornamental recycled wine bottles, signs heralding happiness and wine, along with the light of the day entertained my first sip of Cachora IPA (India Pale Ale). I closed my eyes for a few seconds, encountering flavors both bitter and sweet. Suddenly I forget I was there precisely for an interview to learn more about the process behind the liquid I was imbibing.
As he sat down at the entry table to El Tapeo, the popular wine bar located at the Laos Mar Best Western, Martin asked, “What did you think of the beer?”
“It’s tasty,” I responded, “Tell me, how did this come about?”
“I began with Cucapá in Ensenada and then tried others, and that’s when we decided to bring something like that here and make our own. To do so, well we had to try a lot (of beer), and two of our waiters, Kelvin and Bryan, helped me sample and define tastes; they were also part of the beer-making process,” Martin detailed while looking at one of the bottles touting the Memuco designed Cachora label. Martin chose the name Cachora (desert lizard) as it is his favorite animal and tattoos of the lizard adorn his skin.
“At the beginning,” detailed the beer maker, “we began cooking the beer in 20 liter pots and adapted hoses for the liquid; we got the ingredients in Hermosillo – hops and malt – and set to making the first liters. It was a lot of work because you have to cook, let it ferment, and brew, which requires time and patience, and particularly given the entire sanitary process.”
While he detailed beer making, Martin brought out his phone to show some of the pictures he had saved from the first batch. That first one was done as an experiment; they made a Blonde and an Amber, plus looked to give the beer a special touch by adding clove to one of the beers they sampled among themselves.
They then began making beer to fill larger barrels, and adapted lids along with an iron structure as a base. It was with this first larger production of nearly 40 liters they were to make themselves known.
I propped my chin on my palm, one of the relaxing effects of the golden liquid, focusing my attention on Martin while he remarked on a simple event held April 25th to present his first batch of craft brew, accompanied by dishes prepared by students from the local UTPP particularly for the evening. Only a handful of friends had been invited to that first tasting, who were then asked to share remarks as to the flavors they perceived.
As the interview edged on, I became more relaxed – now with my feet crossed on the stool and questions flowing a bit more freely; as I reached the bottom of the glass, I simply nodded through the conversation. The beer’s 6.9 alcohol content had certainly taken effect in mere minutes, Ah, but what an interview! “If only all interviews could be like this,” I wistfully thought.
As I oozed further into our conversation, I was suddenly alert to the point the craft beer process takes an entire month. Yes! A month, hence the “artisan craft”.
Before wrapping up I asked Martin, “What’s next as far as production,” to which he contentedly noted they would be waiting for cooler months as managing exact temperatures is also important. Plus, he added, they are still working on a certain taste – or authentic flavor – that will distinguish Cachora, which will all come in due time.
And so, my conversation with Martin Quintero came to an end, along with my delightful Cachora craft beer, which of course I amply recommend particularly if you’re into bold, sweet, yet bitter flavors.