Drinking Black Tears in TJ

“It was a school project,” says Sergio Michel. “That’s how it started.”

We’re standing in the stark sunlight of a Tijuana afternoon at the Culinary Art School, looking at a row of beer bottles.

His beer. Rámuri beer. We've just emptied them.

But what started as a school project has become a full-fledged craft brewery. The beers sell here in Tijuana, and also as far south as Cabo.

Michel’s a master brewer who has taken on this mission: to bring Tijuana screaming into the craft beer movement.

Probably the best known of his brews is the “Diablo Blanco” (“White Devil”), a nice clean lager

...But my favorite was an oatmeal stout called “Lágrimas Negras” (“Black Tears”)...

As the bottle said, “cerveza obscura con sutiles notas de cacao” (“a dark beer with subtle notes of cacao”). But also totally dee-lish: the just-as-dark beer beside it, the Imperial Stout, which tastes like it has a ton of coffee mixed in.

The one thing I can’t quite figure is the name.

“Rámuri’?” says Sergio. “‘Rarámuri’ means Tarahumara – the mountain people of northwestern Mexico. It’s what they call themselves. They’re famous for their long-distance running. People say the name means ‘fast runners.’ Or ‘foot runners.’ They have survived wars with the Aztecs, the Spanish, the French, and the Americans. Now, guess what’s conquering them? Deforestation. And the drought that comes with it.

"So we wanted to honor them, but also to call ourselves ‘Rámuri.’ Not ‘Rarámuri.’ Because ‘Rámuri’ means ‘mixed blood.’ Not pure blood. And that’s most of us. That is the world today. We wanted to celebrate the mixture most of us really are. Kind of like the new mixtures that our craft beers are.”

The downside?

I don’t think there’s anywhere in SD you can buy it. Yet.

The upside? Great excuse to run like the Rarámuri across to TJ.

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