By Justin Porter Biel
On a Sunday evening, the Todos Santos Brewing Company is filled with buzzed energy, jovial voices, and the pungent smell of craft beer. Friends sit at high- top tables, bar stools, or kicked back against cozy leather couches with their hands gripped around frosty pint glasses. On the back patio under a purple sky, local musicians sing jazz for an intimate crowd. Liz and Ted Mitchell, the hands-on owners of the establishment, are either behind the bar or chatting with guests, their smiling faces as appreciated as the craft beers they produce.
Their taproom has an easygoing, welcoming vibe. But more important than the atmosphere is the craft beer lineup, debatably the best in all of Southern Baja. An immediate fan of their brews, I took time to talk to Liz and Ted during one of their “Sunday Sessions” music events. Between drinks, I asked them a range of questions, mostly about beer, but also about the ideation of the Todos Santos Brewing Company.
Originally from Australia, Liz and Ted Mitchell never had the intention of living full time in Todos Santos, let alone starting the town’s first craft brewery. But while vacationing in neighboring Cerritos, the couple went out one afternoon in search of what they desired most – a taproom with excellent craft beer, air conditioning, and good food. “There was nothing like it,” said Ted, “Right then, I knew there was an opportunity.”
Four weeks after that fateful afternoon, the Mitchell’s packed up their lives in Australia and moved to Mexico with a goal to open the first craft brewery in Todos Santos. After arriving they rented an old tortilla factory, redesigned the entire place, and in June of 2017, the Todos Santos Brewing Company opened for business. “From day one,” said Liz, “the reception has been amazing.” How amazing? “On opening night,” said Ted, “the beer we planned to sell in the first month was gone in two and a half hours.”
As a resident of Todos Santos, I attended the opening night in June, curious to see what the new brewery had to offer. I remember the night well. It was a scene of controlled chaos, with Ted and Liz behind the bar, the Mitchell’s taking orders faster than they could pour. The opening was a huge success. “All in all,” said Ted, “around three-hundred people stopped by.” Even now, the Mitchell’s aren’t sure how word got out so fast. “We didn’t do any real marketing,” said Liz, “people just showed up.”
The success of Todos Santos Brewing Company is due to many reasons, the biggest one being the excellent craft beer, which Ted brews onsite with the help of Liz and a small local team. Regarding their personal tastes, Ted and Liz prefer the full-bodied, hoppy IPA’s with names such as “Heavenly Beast,” “Deep Summer IPA” and “Gaslamp West Coast IPA.” Still, they were hesitant to admit to a favorite beer, because, “I have a new favorite every week,” said Ted.
However, with nearly twenty taps, Todos Santos Brewing has something for everyone. In addition to IPA’s, patrons can choose from refreshing summer ales, blondes, reds, American pale ales, sour beers, and even a gose. A broad selection like this, which is a big plus for lovers of craft beer, was unheard of in Todos Santos before the Mitchell’s arrival.
But don’t let the name fool you. Todos Santos Brewing is not only about the beer. With an eye for marketing and promotions, Liz has developed weekly activities, trivia nights and music events, all of which draw crowds looking to kick back and connect with other members of the community. The Mitchell’s are methodical about every aspect of the brewery, which translates to a unique, memorable experience for each person who walks through the door. It’s all part of a broad vision for the company. “We want people to come for the beer,” said Liz, “but stay for the experience.”
Hours have passed, and I’m reaching the end of my second beer. Inside there’s still one group chatting and laughing at the high tables, but the magnetizing pull of the music, the lights, and night sky has drawn everyone else outside. Before heading to the back patio, I thank Liz and Ted for answering my questions, hoping I can remember all the key points. I tell this to Ted, mentioning that I’ll bring a voice recorder for the next interview. Ted smiles, seemingly unaffected by my concerns. “Most times people don’t remember what you told them anyway,” he says, “what they remember is how you made them feel.”
I walk out to the patio with a full glass and take a seat in the corner, my head nodding to soothing vocals and the sounds of a DJ playing impromptu riffs on an electric guitar. I take a drink of the beer, realizing I’ve forgotten a lot of the conversation already. But none of that seems to matter, as the feeling I have is just right.