At 1:30 p.m. on a recent Sunday, I find myself sitting in Newport Beach’s newest beer spot, teacup Chihuahua pupper in one hand, Chihuahua Cerveza in the other, wondering, “What in the hell did I do in my life to end up here?”
Most new breweries you walk into, there are some stainless-steel fermentation vessels, perhaps a few kegs, and maybe a frothy bucket or two. At Chihuahua, there’s none of that. Instead, there’s a menu filled with tacos, a salsa bar, various agua frescas and a self-service beer wall. The food mostly goes for less than $5. And while chihuahuas are welcome indoors, larger doggos should stick to the patio.
On offer are Mexican-style lagers of various strengths and shades of brown. The lineup of El Primero, Rico, Rosado and Negro is clean and crisp, yet none really shines when poured into the plastic cups provided. The beers are contract-brewed in Buellton at Figueroa Mountain, which has gotten accolades for various lagers over the years.
Over time, most self-pouring draft systems develop into a shitshow of dirty lines, gross tap handles and weird thermodynamics without water pre-rinsing. However, during the first week Chihuahua was open, the system was on point. But if a place has dedicated employees guarding a self-serve draft wall, why not have them pour my beer? Self-checkout sucks, and self-pouring is a novelty nobody asked for. At least the beers are $5.
If you want beer to go, the odd clear bottle choice leaves your ale susceptible to being light-struck, causing unwanted skunk aromatics before you get a chance to take the first sip. Just as Gramps said, “When in doubt, make sure to double-bag it.”
Chihuahua Cerveza, 3107 Newport Blvd., Newport Beach, (949) 771-8226; chihuahuacerveza.com.
Greg Nagel has been writing about beer since 2011, is an avid homebrewer of wine, cider, and beer, is a certified Cicerone Beer Server, a podcaster with the Four Brewers Show, and runs a yearly beer festival called Firkfest.