Chihuahua Cerveza, a brand small but feisty as its name, started brewing beers six month ago in Newport Beach. The company’s four, Mexican-style lagers are now available throughout Southern California and beyond, (find locations to buy the beers here) and as of Nov. 19, Chihuahua Cerveza also owns an eponymous taproom on Balboa Peninsula, in the spot where Crow Burger Kitchen used to be, (3107 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, CA 92663). It’s a well-visited location between the Pavilions that stocks Chihuahua brews and Chipotle, ideal to showcase a burgeoning beer brand that’s anything but ordinary.
3017 Newport Beach Blvd.
Newport Beach, CA 92663
Hours: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Sunday
“We thought the space was great,” said Kent Walker, vice president of restaurant operations for Chihuhua Cerveza. “We’re homegrown, based right here in Newport Beach, and we want locals to know about our beers.”
Though the taproom officially opens Monday, the weekend provided a “soft launch,” complete with tacos, a mariachi band, a sleepy chihuahua named Rico and beer bracelets.
The bracelets allowed patrons to access a sleek, pour-your-own-beer wall where taps are arranged neatly across a black, tile backdrop, with the Chihuahua Cerveza logo, (a Chihuahua, naturally) emblazoned above.
As Walker explained, guests of the fast-casual eatery will come up to the counter, order any of the authentically Mexican dishes—menu items include a selection of tacos, guacamole, street corn, and more—then, they’ll buy the beers. “We give you this really cool wristband that looks like what you get when you go to Coachella,” he said. “You wave it next to the beer tap you want and pour your own beer.”
The amount of beer on each bracelet is up to the individual patron; each bracelet can hold up to $100 worth of pours. (Of course, at that price, your bracelet would be stocked with enough beer for weeks.)
The four beers available are:
Rico (Premium Strong Lager, 6.5% ABV)
Rico is a full-flavored, strong, Mexican-style lager that will go down easy. With a high 6.5% ABV, this lager is the first of its kind packing a real punch!
El Primero (Premium Lager, 5% ABV)
Brewed to enjoy after a hard day’s work, during weekends in the sun, among family and friends, El Primero is a refreshing Mexican-style lager perfect for any occasion.
Limón (Premium Lager, 5% ABV)
Brewed with lime and a hint of salt. Limón blends the flavors of a crisp, Mexican-style lager with the squeeze of fresh lime and a touch of salt. Perfect for sipping on a hot summer day.
Rosado (Premium Lager) 5% ABV
Brewed with ginger, hibiscus and lime. The first of its kind — a unique Rosé twist on the Mexican lager. A fusion of fresh ginger, crisp citrus and a hint of cranberry from hibiscus petals, the Rosado is an alluring and refreshing experience.
The pour-your-own beer wall offers guests a chance to try out all four beers; they can create a six-ounce flight of beers or “have a beer then get up and try a different one,” Walker said.
And if a technologically awesome beer wall isn’t enough to convince you this place means business, the restaurant also features traditional Mexican street tacos, made just as you’d get them south of the border. Taco recipes are sourced from Santa Ana taco chefs the team hired. The salsa and tortilla recipes come from the line cook’s grandmas.
“These are really old-world, Mexican recipes you’d taste if you were in Baja or the city of Puebla,” Walker explained. “They’re traditional and done the right way.”
The “right way” is all part of the taproom’s philosophy to serve up authenticity in every sip and bite. “Our goal is to make street tacos that are the most authentic version of a Mexican taco that Newport has ever seen,” he said.
Chihuahua Cerveza is keeping authentic to its brand, too. As an homage to its name, the taproom offers a dog-friendly porch, and the overall design was constructed to be “simple but to feel really local,” Walker described. The walls are covered in handmade brick work, the patio is awash in cream-colored wood. Inside, TV screens light up the high-ceilinged space, and Walker envisions “people will come in and watch Premier League games on Saturday mornings, enjoy a breakfast burrito and have some beers.”
Still, Chihuahua Cerveza isn’t an early-morning breakfast spot or a late-night hang. The taproom opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 10 p.m. every day. It also won’t have a designated happy hour because Walker said the price of the beers will most likely be one of the cheapest in town. “We are the brewer selling our own beer, so we’re passing that lack of expense onto the guests. You’ll be able to get 16 oz. of beer for less than $5, which is basically happy-hour pricing all the time.”
Every detail, from the price of the beers to the laid-back style of the restaurant, is meant to cater to locals, and that speaks to Chihuahua Cerveza’s appeal as a homegrown brand. “We think we have something pretty special,” Walker explained. “We have a passion for hospitality and really believe Newport needs a place with super nice people, a cool environment, some truly great tacos and great beer.”