What do Mexican and Vienna lagers have in common? The answer requires a history lesson.
The story begins in France with Napoleon III (the nephew of the O.G. Napoleon Bonaparte). The French Constitution prevented him from running for a second presidential term, so he decided to stage a coup and named himself emperor in 1852.
As a part of his foreign policy, he offered Mexico to the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian, who accepted and became Emperor
Maximilian I. Ordinarily, the U.S. would have intervened, but we were preoccupied with the Civil War and unable to lend any assistance to Mexican President Benito Juarez.
Maximilian’s reign ended after only three years, but it brought into Mexico an influx of German and Austrian immigrants, who in turn started developing a beer industry there.
Maximilian even had his own brewer. Guess what style he brewed? Yep, Vienna lagers.
The style was so popular that brewers started experimenting and the Mexican lager was born. Though not technically recognized by the Beer Judging Certification Program, it has influenced beers like Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Amber.
This cultural influence of more than 100 years ago is taking hold again, but this time within the American craft beer market. A year ago, shops would’ve struggled to offer one craft Mexican lager. Now there’s a variety from all over the country, each offering different interpretations of the style.
This is going to be one of the beers of summer, so grab a few and enjoy a bit of history. If you really want to go all out, invite some friends over for a taco fiesta and pair them up.
Oskar Blues Brewery – ABV: 4.0%
Appearance: Deep amber with a frothy tan head.
Aroma: Malty with notes of caramel and toasted bread.
Taste: Smooth and balanced with hints of caramel, cocoa, and nuts.
Mouthfeel: Full and smooth with a medium carbonation.
Drinkability: Like a traditional Mexican lager. A great craft beer alternative to Dos Equis Amber.
Food pairing: Barbacoa or carnitas tacos
21st Amendment Brewery – ABV: 4.8%
Appearance: Light straw yellow with excellent clarity and a bright white head.
Aroma: Hints of corn and cereal grains.
Taste: Leans toward a traditional lager; clean, crisp, and grassy.
Mouthfeel: Refreshing with medium-high carbonation, making it somewhat dry.
Drinkability: Perfect after a day of surfing or skateboarding.
Food pairing: Chicken tacos
Epic Brewing Company- ABV: 4.8%
Appearance: Pale straw yellow, slightly hazy with a bright white head.
Aroma: Lime and citrus scents dominate.
Taste: The flavor additions of lime and salt are very apparent in this lager. Like a lime-flavored tortilla chip, it’s very savory and slightly tart.
Mouthfeel: The carbonation is medium-low and the citrus lingers.
Drinkability: This interpretation reminds me more of a gose or a Berliner weiss, but offers a great flavor combination to pair with Mexican food. It was originally created for a Mexican restaurant in Denver.
Food pairing: Shrimp tacos
Mano Del Puma
Commonwealth Brewing Company – ABV: 4.8%
Appearance: Deep golden hue with yellow highlights and an off-white head.
Aroma: Slightly sweet with hints of corn and cereal grain.
Taste: Clean, crisp, and refreshing.
Mouthfeel: A medium-high carbonation gives this beer the perfect bite that keeps you going back for another sip.
Drinkability: The beach is the perfect setting to enjoy this beer.
Food pairing: Pork and pineapple tacos