Steamboat Springs High School graduate co-founder of Mexico brewery |

Steamboat Springs High School graduate co-founder of Mexico brewery

Luke Graham

Baja Brewing Co.'s flagship beer

— Frankly, Jordan Gardenhire just likes beer.

The 1997 Steamboat Springs High School graduate got into brewing beer in college. It started as a home-brewing system in the dorm, where he made beer for himself and his friends.

"I had a lot of fun with it," he said. "I certainly wasn't planning a career on it."

Sometimes, the best plans are the ones that are never drawn out.

Gardenhire is the co-founder and brewmaster for Baja Brewing Co. based out of San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

He opened the brewery and brewpub in 2007 and has seen tremendous growth. By 2008, he was producing 800 barrels. Now, he produces 2,400 barrels per year. He has three brewpubs in Los Cabos and has beers distributed throughout Mexico.

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Recently, Gardenhire has managed to break into the U.S. His flagship beer, a delightful blonde ale called Cabotella, can be found in Colorado, Texas, Arizona and New Mexico. In Steamboat, it is available at Ski Haus Liquors, Arctic Liquors, Gondola Liquors and Ski Town Wine & Spirits.

Gardenhire graduated from the University of Colorado in 2002 and moved to Cabo shortly thereafter. He planned to stay for one year but fell in love with the place and pondered what he could do for a living.

With the area void of craft beers, opening a pub and brewery was an obvious choice.

In 2006, he went to the American Brewer's Guild. It was a strategic and brilliant move. Mexico's lack of craft beers put Gardenhire in the position to not only get into the market early but nearly establish it.

"It seemed like the right idea,” he said. “There is not the same brewing culture as there is in the U.S. You could see what was happening here. It's going to have to happen. I wanted to go in as one of the first ones."

The company has eight beers it brews, the most popular being Cabotella. Gardenhire said he has adjusted the recipe more than 50 times throughout the years. Gardenhire described Cabotella as an "easy drinking Mexican beer you can drink on the beach and in hot weather."

Early on in the process, he got help from Doug Odell, one of the founders of Fort Collins-based Odell Brewing Co.

The goal now, he said, is to continue expansion into states across the Southwest. He said the company has grown each year.

"It never crossed my mind that I would brew for a living," he said. "I couldn't be happier that I got into this. I'm really excited it's in Steamboat. I think a lot of people I know will have the opportunity to try it."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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