IMBIBE: Cerveza Savvy
Warm up with brews from clara to obscura.
JACKSON HOLE, WY – Gather round, beer aficionados, because here are are some terrific Mexican and domestic Mexican-style brews to warm your bones and bring sunshine to your days.
Certain dark beers are called obscura in Mexico. Readily available year-round is Bohemia Obscura. It’s a bock-style beer that was developed originally by German immigrant brewers in Mexico.
German-style brewing is also well-represented in another excellent Mexican obscura: Negra Modelo. This creamy, slightly sweet beer is complex, with hints of Mexican chocolate or mole. It’s not too dissimilar from a German altbier, and pairs well with pork, lamb, goat and beef dishes.
The German influence on the early Mexican brewing industry can be credited for one of my favorite Mexican clear (clara) lagers: Bohemia Lager. It’s a complex, German-style light/clear lager that is aged longer than most Mexican beers. Bohemia has fragrant floral aromas and a somewhat nutty malt flavor.
The same ginormous brewery that produces Negra Modelo—Grupo Modelo—also makes what has to be the most ubiquitous Mexican brew in this country: Corona Extra. Grupo Modelo, in turn, is owned by InBev, which also owns Budweiser. To be honest, I’m not a huge Corona crony. But, it certainly has its fans. It’s the best-selling non-domestic beer in the United States, and the fifth most popular beer worldwide. The truth is, Corona is easier to find here than it is in Mexico, since the American consumer seems to like its inoffensive, light, non-bitter, crisp flavors. I must admit, there are few beers that go down better on a beach or a boat.
When I’m in the mood for a light, crisp beer similar to Corona Extra, my pick is Pacifico Clara. Also manufactured by Grupo Modelo and brewed in Mazatlan, Pacifico is a Mexican-style pilsner that’s a little more meaty than Corona, as well as slightly hoppier—one of the better light lagers from Mexico.
Here in the U.S., Epic Brewing makes a refreshing session-style lager called Los Locos. It’s a Mexican-style lager that has natural lime juice and a little sea salt added to balance hints of sweetness from corn adjuncts—sort of like a beer margarita that tastes great with nachos.
Another fun American beer with a sunny Mexico-influenced mind set is Wasatch Jalapeño Cream Ale. The beer seems to come and go, depending upon the whims of Wasatch Brewery founder Greg Schirf. I absolutely love this unusual brew, when I can find it. Imagine a Shoenling Little Kings Cream Ale that’s been infused with fresh jalapeños. The Jalapeño Cream Ale is light and refreshing—not too spicy—but brimming with vegetal jalapeño flavors. It’s a terrific summertime sipper.
Another unique domestic Mexican-style lager is Proper Brewing’s Little Sister Cerveza. It’s a seasonal lager made with malted blue corn and German Tettnanger hops, named in honor of brewers Liam and Rio Connelly’s little sister’s 21st birthday. PJH