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May the Brew Be With You: Craft Beer Meets Science Fiction At Tijuana’s Newest Craft Brewery 

"Spanglish" is Farland's Aleworks double IPA beer and it's as complex as the border city itself.

11:29 AM PDT on June 9, 2023

Farland Aleworks, a Tijuana microbrewery inspired by the cosmic energies of “Star Wars,” “Rick and Morty,” and “The Mandalorian,” specializes in lager beers and sci-fi allusions.

The brewery is drenched in them. One beer here is named “Yoda." Not for the green puppet of the day, but in honor of the founders’ departed dog. Its can comes adorned with sage words in the Jedi Master's remixed vernacular, guiding the drinker to accept death as a part of life.

Farland's first location opened up last year, founded by two cousins who combined their love of sci-fi beer and brewing in the city of Tijuana, an often misunderstood border city plagued by the narrative of a single story. 

Founder of Farland Aleworks, Gerardo Grijalva. Photo by Colton Lucas for L.A. TACO.
Founder of Farland Aleworks, Gerardo Grijalva and Head Brewer, Ramon Cruz at Farland Aleworks. Photo by Colton Lucas for L.A. TACO.

“Tijuana is a very complex city, but also very noble,” founder Gerardo Grijalva said. "We live here, and you can feel the warmth of people. Most people are eager to work and give you a hand... I love Tijuana.”

Farland Brewery is one of many that have sprouted across Tijuana over the last decade. Grassroots microbreweries like Insurgente and Border Psycho are shaping the resurgence of the beer brewing scene in the Baja city.

Bordering San Diego, the “craft-beer capital of the U.S.,” breweries in Tijuana have taken inspiration from their neighboring counterparts without settling for an identity that feels solely like an extension of the American beer scene. Farland prides itself in experimenting with flavor approaches that are inspired by Italy, Germany, and other breweries in Tijuana.

Photo by Colton Lucas for L.A. TACO.

Their craft beers available in cans range from lagers to hazy pale ales. Farland’s style is primarily influenced by Germany's Berliner Weisse, a beer dating back to the 16th century.

For anyone whose knowledge of craft beer has mostly been shaped by being dragged to a Ballast Point bar by friends or who feel tepid about the beer scene, the flavors at Farland should have you buzzing with a newfound excitement for lagers and ales.

And for the “one-drink” drinkers, one of Farland’s double IPAs, called “Spanglish,” has a 9.2% ABV – which is about double the typical ABV of a sessionable craft beer. This double IPA is a true Mexican-American fusion, created in collaboration with Booze Bros. and Culver Beer, two California breweries.

Grijalva tells us that Farland Brewery’s most popular beers are:

The Akatsuki (Japanese lager): A refreshing beer made with rice flakes for a crisp and slightly sweet character. 

The Travelers IPA (India Pale Ale): Defined by an upfront bitterness, followed by citrus zest and a hint of tangerines and grapefruit. 

Yoda the Gentleman (Hazy Pale Ale): A silky drink with mango and apricot notes and hints of pineapple and coconut. 

The Mexican Lager (Revels lager): A highly carbonated, malty and salty beer with some slight corn notes. 

Aesthetics are essential and can elevate an experience, especially in such a competitive beer community like Tijuana. Nothing is more fulfilling than holding an embellished can of beer, a cup of coffee, or a glass of wine.

Farland has nailed the concept of including intentionality behind every detail, from the distinct beer recipes to the look of their craft beer cans. The exterior of each can has been decorated with quotes influenced by the sci-fi world.

If you order the “Yoda the Gentleman” Hazy Pale Ale, you are not drinking in vain. The unfiltered pale was inspired by Gerardo’s dog. And the words engraved on the can remind us about the beauty in letting go: “Death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those who transform into the force. Mourn them do not. Miss them do not. Attachment leads to jealousy the shadow of greed that is,” a quote by Yoda from Star Wars.  

Ask for the Japanese lager and you will also be graced with some wisdom from Itachi Uchiha: “It is not wise to judge others based on your perceptions and by their appearances.”

Naruto fans can also find exclusive craft beer cans with the anime's artwork from the brewery in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City. These two beers bank on Mexico’s obsession with anime culture. 

With blue bathroom light and galaxy stars illuminating the backrooms, to pendant lamps representing the explosion of the Death Star, the entire brewery steams with a refreshing “out-of-world” vibe.

The loyal following that they've built in just two months shows its a galaxy worth stepping into; both the indoor and outdoor seating areas are packed on any given weeknight.

A Non-Binary Approach To Craft Beer

If you go on a solo date with friends or a significant other, you will also be accompanied by the miniature Star Wars characters that are scattered around Farland's interiors. They are real-life Easter eggs to hunt while enjoying your cold one. But you will also be joined by Traveler–the brewery’s own non-binary character, who acts as their mascot.

Traveler is a science fiction-inspired character with a silhouette that shows them in a portal, traveling between time and space in search, not of the best beer. Of course, Traveler lands in Farland, and it becomes their favorite place.

“Literally, it’s a place far away, but conceptually, it’s the place you always want to be,” Grijalva said. 

“We wanted a space for everybody to feel comfortable. It's natural – it was like we have to do this," Cousin and partner Rodrigo Grijalva added. 

A real-life easter egg: Yoda, the Jedi Master from Star Wars adorns brewing equipment inside Farland's brewery. Photo by Colton Lucas for L.A. TACO.

They are referring to creating a non-binary brand character and also having a non-gender bathroom in the brewery. This is a radical move in Mexico because it is not common at all. However, Tijuana’s proximity to the U.S. and that country's politics influence their business.

“I think we are the first brewery to have a non-gender bathroom,” Gerardo said, noting that this approach stemmed from his childhood memories.

“Growing up, we screw up a lot, we follow a lot of different ideas that we don’t necessarily believe in, and I believe in all the movements; love is love, we are all humans and that is what we are trying to transmit to people, and that is Farland,” Gerardo said.  “Like Krusty the Clown from the Simpsons says: ‘Tijuana is the happiest place on earth.'"

Especially if you like fresh beer and sci-fi is your religion, his cousin added.

Av. 20 de Noviembre 12613, 20 de Noviembre, 22100 Tijuana, B.C., Mexico

This story is part of TIJUANA WEEK at L.A. TACO! A collaboration with Professors Amara Aguilar, Laura Castañeda, and USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. Make sure to check back daily for more stories. A printable L.A. TACO Pocket Travel Guide to Tijuana will drop later this week so keep an eye out for that soon.

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