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By Doug Usher
With Cinco de Mayo around the corner, it’s likely you’re either planning a gathering or going to one. While you might enjoy imbibing in some of the traditional Mexican imports, if you’re looking for a craft alternative this year, I’ve got you covered.
One of the coolest new(ish) trends in craft right now is breweries releasing Mexican-style lagers. Oskar Blues just released their version, Beerito. It’s exactly what you want and expect from this style: easy to drink, low alcohol, and a sweet malt finish to balance anything from spicy salsa to extra spicy tacos. It’s an incredibly fun beer to drink, and the package design almost makes you feel like you’re holding a foil- wrapped burrito. Truthfully, this beer will pair with with just about any Mexican dish you want to serve it with, or you can enjoy it completely on its own, no food needed. Without a doubt, this is going to be a major go-to beer for me this summer.
If you’re looking for something a tad bit bigger, but still light and easy-drinking, check out Snow Drop from Grimm Brothers. Technically a Köttbusser, this pilsner/wheat hybrid is light, refreshing, and crisp. The honey and molasses notes add sweetness, while a tiny bit of hops provide a nice balance to keep it sharp on the tongue. It would be a perfect pair with fish tacos or some spicy shrimp. Drink it from a can to keep it easy, or pour into a traditional wheat glass to bring out more of the aromas and mouthfeel.
If you want to go with something big and bold, try Demshitz Brown from Bonfire Brewing. This Eagle, Colorado-based brewery has been gaining a lot of traction in Northern Colorado for their balanced and creative beers, and this one is no exception. This beer is malty, rich and savory, making it a great choice with richer foods, like enchiladas, or beef fajitas. The chocolate and light coffee notes will help it stand up to these types of foods, but the smoothness of the beer means it won’t overpower the food. It’s also low in alcohol, so you won’t lose your feet if you decide to crack open a second one.
For those who are truly adventurous, check out Avery Brewing’s Fiel Al Estilo. This elaborate (and expensive) beer is a far cry from an inexpensive import. It’s a barrel-aged Mexican style barley wine, brewed with agave syrup, aged in tequila barrels, with chile peppers added. Now that might sound confusing, but the flavors come together harmoniously to create something brilliant. It’s rich, complex, and just a touch spicy. This beer would easily overpower lighter dishes, so be sure to pair it with big, flavorful foods like mole sauces or carne asada. The hint of spice in the finish actually works perfectly with spicy food, melding the two together for a very rewarding experience that keeps going. This beer is not for everyone, but for those looking for something different, it’s perfect.