Ruben Hernandez

The cerveza report

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Cerveza-IndioIn Tampa, the Cigar City Brewing company produces Jose Martí beer, named after the famous Cuban revolutionary. This craft beer is a porter and has a lightly roasted, chocolaty flavor. This brewer also produces Espresso Brown Ale, a cubano-style rich, brown brew with the aroma of Cuban espresso and a taste of sweet caramel. 

Start-up breweries have found a niche in Miami’s craft-beer scene. If you love dessert more than main dishes, you’ll love Miami’s Fourth Age Brewing’s brands. Its beers are basically dessert in a bottle. The ¿Flan? brand is a sweetish stout that tries to recreate the beloved postre. It has a creamy body and is dark. Fourth Age’s Mango beer is light, golden, with a thick head and a dash of citrus. 

Wynwood Brewing Company offers La Rubia, a blonde ale with a crisp, fruity taste. Most Wanted Brewing serves up Pink Posse, heavily influenced by agua de jamaica. It has a fruity, cranberry-ish flavor. The same brewers make Crimin Ale, infused with wheat and honey from bees buzzing around the Brazilian pepper trees that proliferate in the Everglades.

Cerveza culture, beer lore and the evolution of cocktail beers

Beer etiquette and recipes also have evolved over the centuries. No one knows when the first beer lover squeezed a lime wedge down a Corona bottle, but now it become part of beer lore. One theory is that the lime was first used to disinfect the Corona bottle rim. Another is that coating the rim with lime kept away moscas. Probably, the best explanation is that, when Corona was introduced to America, sales flopped. So the sales and marketing departments came up with the idea that sipping Corona with a piece of lime floating inside somehow made it “hip.” Sales soared and, now, any self-respecting Corona guzzler in the U.S., Europe or Canada wouldn’t be caught dead drinking it without the lime.

Other beer/lime combinations are the chelada and michelada, twists on drinking beer that are popular in Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. Basically a beer cocktail, a michelada is light beer with lots of lime juice, salt and sometimes chili powder,  Worcestershire sauce, Clamato, tomato juice, or even soy sauce, may be added. The name comes from the phrase mi chela helada, or “my ice cold beer.”

Although micro-brewing hasn’t taken off in Mexico like it has in the U.S., some Mexican companies have created niche brands and boosted their sales based on the product names. One small brewery in Guadalajara marketed a beer named Malverde, after Jesús Malverde, the famous drug trafficker. In addition, a company of soccer-loving beer producers introduced 10 Maradó, named in honor of soccer superstar, Diego Maradona. The same people created beers honoring the revolutionaries Emiliano Zapata and even Che Guevara. You can imagine the cheery toasts of “¡Viva la Revolución!” with these brands. 

So, the next time you sip and savor the frothy fruits of Mexico’s breweries at a Cinco de Mayo celebration of a great Mexican military victory, remember also to celebrate the history and culture of beer-brewing which brought you that great chela helada.

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