YAY MEXICO! BOO FRANCE! HAPPY CINCO DE MAYO!

That title is as far as I’ll go into our history lesson today children.  As we stumble upon another 5th day in May, many will be out slugging beers and shouting Viva Mexico! at the tops of their lungs (Which they probably didn’t do on the 4th and most likely won’t be doing on the 6th).  Were you ever curious though just why you feel the need to drink up on Cinco de Mayo?  All you need to know to feel better about your celebration is that Mexico smoked France in battle (Once) and everything from there on out was peace and prosperity to this very day.  OK, apparently the victory celebration only lasted a year as France flexed their douchey muscles and slapped those folks around for another few years, but at least all ended well for Mexico.  What?  Oh, apparently it didn’t end so well.  Maybe that’s why we drink.  Anyway, if you’re going to drink today and drink you shall, you might as well be drinking some “Proper” Mexican beer to add a layer of authenticity to a celebration that roughly 90% of Mexico doesn’t take part in.  Top 5 Mexican Beers anyone?

Let’s be clear – Most of the Mexican beer we get in this country does not appeal to your everyday Alehead.  Could be because they’re mostly Lagers.  Could be because they’re mostly made by the same people.  Could just be because they’re not very good.  In any case, I myself drink a lot of Mexican beer and find that many of them have their place during the Summer months and certainly make their way into many celebrations across this country.  There is good Mexican beer out there, mostly leaning on German roots to produce old world styles like Pilsners and other Pale Lagers.  The problem I find, living in the Northeast, is that I can’t get them.  As you’ll find with any of my top 10 lists (or top 5 in this case), I only list beers that I’ve had or can reasonably get without a ton of effort.  Like most in the US, I can get a slew of beers from the two big dogs in Mexican brewing – Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma (Heineken) and Grupo Modelo (Our best friends AB).  While this list certainly isn’t the best that Mexico has to offer, I think it will at least give someone a chance to try something other than a Corona with lime on Cinco de Mayo.  I hope that’s a good thing.

5) Pacifico Clara – This is the only Adjunct Lager that I’ll put on this list and for good reason.  At some point this Summer, everyone (Except for Barley, because it’s beneath him) will drink a Mexican Adjunct Lager.  It will probably be Corona, but it might be Sol or Dos Equis or Carta Blanca or Tecate.  These beers all suck, but they have their place and at least they’re refreshing with a touch of sweetness at the end.  Pacifico was once a Pilsner and was once brewed by German immigrants.  Now it’s like the rest, but I like it so take off!  I’m sorry, I have no excuse for this one.  Let’s just move on.

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4) Victoria – I’ve had this in Mexico and find it from time to time when I’m traveling down in Texas.  Absurdly light in both body and flavor, it’s a session beer if you can look past a little bit of sweet, bready grain that comes through in the flavor profile (It’s just corn, get over it).

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3) Noche Buena - Maybe I’m cheating by adding a Christmas Bock during Cinco de Mayo, but it’s still available on my store shelves so it’s going up at #3.  Surprisingly tasty, quite rich with good carbonation.  One doesn’t usually associate “Complex” with Mexican beers, but I’ll peg this one as slightly complex.  I think that’s a compliment.

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2) Bohemia - Ah, now we’re getting into some really good beer.  If you like a good, crisp Pilsner I think you’ll enjoy what Bohemia has to offer.  I’m not saying it stands up to the best German Pilsners on the market these days but it’s got some great grassy qualities that cuts through spicy food with ease.  Perfect accompaniment for those looking for a nice Pale Lager but want to avoid the everyday crap that you’ll usually find at a Mexican restaurant.

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1) Negra Modelo - I think Bohemia is a more well crafted beer than Negra Modelo, but for overall taste I have to give the edge to Negra.  Truly a fine example of the Vienna Lager style (Or Dunkel Lager, depending on who you ask).  Malty, slightly sweet, with a crisp backbone and a dry finish.  Contrasting notes throughout yet incredibly smooth, one of the most approachable beers you’ll ever come across.  It’s also probably the darkest beer you’ll ever find South of the border, and I use the word “Dark” very loosely.  This is my beer of choice whenever I’m dining on Mexican food.

Don’t bother looking up the beers I listed to see who brews them.  They probably all come from some big factory in San Antonio that’s backed by some big Wall Street firm.  I list them because at one time they were all authentic and like many American brews they once had real roots and a true brewing tradition behind them.  They’ve been gobbled up, transformed, then spit out as shells of their former selves.  That doesn’t mean they’re not drinkable though.  So go out and celebrate and drink Mexican beer to your heart’s content.  In case you forget why you’re celebrating, just remember:  Mexico beat France, Mexico brews beer, you drink beer.  Isn’t that reason enough?

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9 comments

  1. Not that you can get your hands on any Mexican craft beer in this country, but I thought this was a good article about our brewer hermanos south of the border…

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/apr/17/world/la-fg-mexico-beer-20110418

  2. I don’t know numbers three or four, but the other three would be my top three, in exactly that order. Una cerveza, por favor.

  3. Resie Rae · ·

    I have mixed feelings about Cinco de Mayo- the bullshit that went down last year, in a California high school, chapped my ass to no end… it’s astounding how little the younger generations know about the ‘holiday’, yet the day is used as part of the race card if us gringos don’t ‘honor’ it. I’ll stop here before I go into a full blown rant. (And ‘boo’ to the ‘net nuts that said the movie Machete was going to start a race war- I thought it was highly entertaining.)

    Speaking of entertaining, a few years ago I came across an article about how popular Cinco de Mayo is in Ireland- as if the Irish need a reason to drink! *snort*- so I thought it only appropriate to raise a pint of Guinness in honor of those that would keep this day alive in the old country (har har I love irony), and also, I can’t stand Mexican beer.

    Here’s a little known fact (to the masses) about Mexican beer; there are 40 or more box cars sitting in the Sonoran Desert waiting, heating up to insane temperatures then cooling to freezing, over & over, for an unspecified amount of time, until ALL those cars are filled with beer, then shipped to a warehouse somewhere over the border to be distributed throughout North America. That’s why Corona tastes like shit. But of course, the rule about mass marketing & PR campaigns applies here- if it’s hyped into popularity, chances are it tastes like shit. How do you think Jose Cuervo & Bacardi got to be popular?

    Grupo Modelo is run by RMC Coors in this region of the country, & Heineken/Corona as well. There are eight Corona breweries in Mexico, if I remember correctly from the giant Mexican beer map at one of the many mexican restaurants in the area. Victoria was rolled out first in Chicago, which sold 10 million cases in 9 months (it took Corona nearly 10 YEARS to sell that much), and is now being rolled out in Colorado & Texas. …all this according to my Corona Rep… that was born & raised in New Jersey, with not a speck of Mexican heritage. At least my Guinness Rep is actually an Irishman. Och, boyo! I canno’ understand that heavy brogue!

  4. I have several comments.

    First, happy 5 de mayo to all.

    Second, to Resie: that doesn’t explain why Corona also tastes like shit in Mexico.

    Third, I can’t believe I just saw an endorsement of Negra Modelo in these pages. Not even the “least of the evils” argument applies here, with Bohemia on the list. Yes, Bohemia is a pilsner and I don’t love pilsners. But I REALLY can’t stand Dunkel Lagers. Dark beer should consist of stouts and porters, with the occasional brown ale and IPA worked in. Dunkels are just boring German lagers with food coloring in them. They have MARGINALLY more flavor than ordinary lagers.

    So what am I drinking for 5 de mayo? Tequila. Fire it up.

  5. Resie Rae · ·

    Never been to Mexico, so I have no idea what the taste difference is, but if it tastes like shit there as well, then it don’t matter. I’ve heard some horror stories of Corona breweries, & that not even the Mexicans drink it. The mexicanos that come to my store buy Tecate consistently. Yuck!

    As for the Tequila, the Clase Azul reposado is some truly superb drinking, if you don’t mind the $15-$20 shots, or $110 bottles. Republic Tequila out of Texas isn’t bad; the silver leaves no burn, the reposado & anejo’s are aged in Jack Daniels barrels & are pretty smooth. I generally stay away from te-kill-yas, they make me a little crazy.

  6. LadyJay · ·

    Maybe this is why cerveza preparada is so popular with our friends south of the border. Nothing kills the taste of gross in your Pacifico like Worcesteshire sauce and chile sauce in a glass with a salted rim. Or Clamato. Or…drinking a good beer.

  7. Resie Rae · ·

    I’ve been resisting the urge to ask one of my beer drivers if he hates himself & if he’s always at war with himself… he’s a french mexican. LMAO

    I can relate to that… I’ve got both Hatfield & McCoy in my family tree.

  8. [...] Yay Mexico! Boo France! Happy Cinco De Mayo! (aleheads.com) [...]

  9. [...] Yay Mexico! Boo France! Happy Cinco De Mayo! (aleheads.com) [...]

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