Buzzed Beer Week: In Defense of Vapid Mexican Brews
It's the first official week of summer and the weather's been knockout good, so in the spirit of summer fun, I'm proclaiming this Buzzed Beer Week. Look for posts throughout the week on summer beers, places to drink it and other beery topics.
Since it's Monday, and I like to start light, I'm devoting today to Mexican Beer. Not long ago, someone asked me what Mexican beers I liked. When I told him my favorites—all on the light lager scale—he scoffed, saying that such beer was worthless. He praised Bohemia, Negro Modelo and other such "serious" beers. While I like those brews too, I will endlessly defend the value of vapid Mexican beer. Obviously, there's a certain time and place, but that's the the point. And, yes, beer snobs, I like my Mexican beer with a squeeze of lime and a pinch of salt.
My top 5 Mexican lagers are (in no particular order):
• Modelo Especial: Mexico's version of Bud, but better.
• Pacifico: The standard. The perfect vehicle for lime and salt.
• Sol: Love the clear bottle, the light, zingy beer
• Tecate: Yes, somewhat cheap and trashy, but so refreshing when ice cold
• Estrella (not yet imported): Found in Western Mexico. Ever since a great trip to Baja, it lives on in my dreams. Hopefully, someone will import it.
One thing about these beers is that they all make excellent spicy cocktails—in Mexico, called Micheladas—a zesty lime and hot-sauce infused beer concoctionl that's popping up at various places around town. I love a good Michelada, and they can be found at places like Cantina, Nopalito, and Laiola.
Speaking of Laiola (note: Laiola's owner, Joe, is senior editor Sara's fiance), tonight's an excellent night to head over there, as the restaurant is having a recipe test run for the opening of Tacolicious (Laiola's new taco stand at the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market). The menu's got three tacos (three to choose from, $9 for 3)—one being an irrisistible-sounding chipotle-braised pork with chicharone—plus grilled corn on the cob with chile and lime. And, of course, Laïola's delicious spicy beer will be a headliner.
Laïola Spicy Beer
While they use PBR, I recommend subbing Modelo Especial or Tecate for authenticity's sake.
Red Chili Vinegar:
• A large handful of dried red chilies (Arbols, Anchos or even typical red chili flake)
• A liter(ish) of rice wine vinegar.
Combine the chilies and the vinegar in a saucepan. Cover and bring it to a simmer. Turn of the heat and let it steep for an hour. Strain. Store the infused vinegar in your fridge indefinitely.
• 8 ounces Pabst Blue Ribbon or Mexican lager of choice
• Juice of 1 lime
• 1 tablespoon of Red Chili Pepper Vinegar
• Kosher salt
Using a cut lime, wet the lip of a pint glass. Dip the lip into a plate of kosher salt, coating the rim of the glass. Fill the glass halfway with ice cubes. Add the lime juice, vinegar and cerveza. Garnish with a lime wedge or wheel. Enjoy!