Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Hey, look - Mexican beer that isn't watered-down and skunky!

Between last week's celebration of Colorado Craft Beer Week and next week's arrival in Denver of the Craft Brewers Conference, you might get the impression that only America produces worthwhile craft beer. And, for the most part, you'd be right.

But in a darkened corner of Denver - OK, actually in a tequila bar in a hipster neighborhood - the Fearless Tasting Crew recently discovered a cache of the rare specimen known as Mexican craft beer. And we came away impressed.

Day of the Dead beer is made in the town of Tecate, but it has no relation - either business-wise or taste-wise - to the beer of that same name. Instead, it was created by a Mexican who lived in Oregon for a while and got addicted to things he couldn't find in many of his home country's beers, like hop presence or color or, hell, flavor. It's made by the third largest brewery in Mexico, but there's not a lot of places around the Mile High City where you can find it.

One of those places where you can, however, is La Biblioteca, Richard Sandoval's tequila bar next to Zengo just west of downtown. And, as it turns out, Day of the Dead beer goes pretty well with the mini bahn mi hot dog sliders and chipotle-laden sushi rolls that are on the menu there.

There are four offerings from the brewery - all of which are decorated with wonderful Dia de Muertos art - and the stand-out of the bunch is Immortal Beloved, a hefeweizen with a big banana and clove nose. It hits the palate with just a little bit of spice, accompanied by a citrus bite that puts the beer down very easily.

Another crew member was equally impressed by Pay the Ferryman, a porter that offers the palate heavy roast with light chocolate and a very smooth, light-alcohol (5% ABV) body.  Hop on or Die, a 6.8% ABV IPA, won't make anyone forget about the legions of taste-bud-bursting India pale ales from this state, but its English-style earthy tones are complimented by just a touch of pineapple in the mouthfeel.

The only real disappointment in the foursome available here was Death Rides a Pale Horse, a blonde ale whose flat maltiness can't live up to its awesome moniker. But by the time you run the gamut of Day of the Dead beers, you may feel the courage to crack open one of the skulls holding Mexico's Kah Tequila (see below) - or you may even want to go back for another round of some surprising craft cleverness from south of the border.

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