If you think Mexican beers are all about the light and dark lagers, think again. A new Mexican brewery made it's way north of the border, and it brought everything except for a cliched Mexican lager.
With clever names like Hop on or Die, Pay the Ferryman, Death Becomes You, Immortal Beloved and Death Rides a Pale Horse, Cerveza de los Muertos -- otherwise known as Day of the Dead Beer -- is clearly courting the American market with stylish calavera imagery now associated with all things Mexican in this country.
But stylish they are, and for the most part, the beer inside has more than enough substance to keep it on the shelves of Tops Liquors in Tempe, where a six-pack of this Tecate, Baja California, brewed and bottled beer will set you back a hefty $10.99.
Only two of Cerveza de los Muertos' six beers, brewed by Cervecería Mexicana, go past being just another decent and drinkable beer to note worthy. An English style IPA, Hop on or Die, is heavy handed on the hoppy bitterness just enough to balance out the florals, resulting in a smooth copper toned beer; this isn't an over-hopped West Coast style IPA hiding poor quality with a palate-wrecking quantity of hops, it is smooth, delicate and well balanced.
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Pay the Ferryman, the porter is full bodied yet light enough to be drinkable year round, with a deep brown color and red highlights. Creamy with caramel and coffee notes, rich on the malts with a hoppy finish, this is pleasant surprise out of a micro-brewery from a country known for producing mainly lagers.
My only beef with Cerveza de los Muertos, aside from the relatively expensive price? The twist off bottle caps. Growing up in Mexico, you learn to open up a bottle against almost anything, due to those ever so popular glass soda bottles. If you don't work for your refreshment, or inebriation, is it worth it?
As proprietor of Muñeca Mexicana handcrafted food, Minerva Orduno Rincon makes everything from mole poblano to goat milk caramel to spiced (not spicy) cocoa. She's taking a summer break from farmers markets, but she'll be back in the fall.