Beer Town: Try a crisp, craft Mexican lager this summer

Oskar Blues Brewery Beerito Mexican Lager.

Mexican lagers run the gamut from ultra-light quenchers like Corona, and darker, more malty iterations like Negra Modelo.

Either way, these refreshing, lower alcohol, always food-friendly beers persist as both popular favorites at Mexican restaurants and de rigueur beverage accessories for beach vacations.

And truth be told, many craft beer lovers, who wouldn’t be caught drinking a light American lager, still sometimes gravitate toward the likes of a Bohemia Pilsner or a Dos Equis Ambar.

It’s not so surprising, then, that a growing number of craft brewers have decided to take a stab at the style, producing takes that include quality malts and hops, as well as big-beer adjuncts such as flaked corn.

Steve Anderson, the brewer at Dry County in Kennesaw, says his main motivation for making a Mexican-style lager is that it’s “very easy to drink in the hot weather we almost always have here in Georgia, where even when it’s not summer, it’s almost summer.”

If that sounds like a good reason, you just might want to give some of these local and national craft versions of Mexican-style lagers a try.

Arches Mexican Empire — Hapeville’s Arches focuses on lager beers of all styles, and its rich, summer seasonal Vienna lager is a tribute to the European immigrants who brought the style to Mexico. Defined by a kilned Vienna malt flavor, and designed with a Viennese water profile, it has a nutty character, with Noble hops in the aroma, and a bit of bitterness mingling in the dry finish.

Dry County Lechuza — Brewed in Kennesaw with American malted barley, Vienna malt, flaked corn, Mt. Hood hops and a “yeast strain from a brewery in Mexico City,” this summer seasonal is pitched to the crisp and refreshing side, with a slightly sweet cereal grain finish. Low in alcohol, and barely bitter, it’s conditioned for six weeks to achieve a crisp, smooth, thirst-quenching presence.

Jailhouse Federale Mexican Cerveza — Hampton’s Jailhouse uses a combination of base malts along with a “heavy hand” of flaked corn and a touch of Liberty hops to add a hint of fruitiness to the corniness in this easy-drinking session lager. Some have compared it to Corona Familiar, with a medium-light body that gives it substance without being heavy.

Oskar Blues Beerito — From Colorado canned craft kings, Oskar Blues, this year-round lager was designed to be low in alcohol and complex in flavor, but still crisp and refreshing. Light-bodied, and amber in color, it’s brewed with German and Colorado craft malts, and features Noble hops for a smooth mouthfeel and a variety of subtle nutty, bready and fruity notes.

21st Amendment El Sully — Named for San Francisco’s 21st Amendment brewmaster Shaun O’Sullivan, it was inspired by the Mexican beers O’Sullivan drank growing up in Southern California. German Vienna and pilsner malts, flaked corn, Mexican lager yeast and a combo of Magnum and Northern Brewer hops add up to a year-round easy drinker with some spicy notes.

Wrecking Bar Casa Bonita — Dubbed a dark Mexican lager, this Atlanta brewpub’s take on the style is a clean, crisp, flavorful amber lager offered as a summer seasonal. Structured with Vienna and CaraMunich malts, and a big dose of flaked maize, it’s fermented with traditional Mexican lager yeast, hopped with German Hallertauer Mittelfruh, and finishes very dry.

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