The lighter and fruitier flavours that Mexican-style brewing techniques offer fall in line with the current trend of easy to drink ‘sessionable’ beers, causing brewers in the US and beyond to adopt these methods for their summer releases.
Influenced By Traditional Mexican Drinks
This recent rise in popularity is in part the result of growing appreciation for Mexican culture, and the country’s unique ingredients and culinary traditions. A number of new releases include agave in the brewing process, or even draw inspiration from traditional Mexican drinks such as the agua fresca, incorporating ingredients like hibiscus and watermelon. Lakewood Brewing Company’s Muy Importante Margarita Mexican Lager, for example, is brewed with agave, lime, orange and sea salt. Cerveza Amigos from O’Fallon Brewery includes hibiscus tea and lime.
This trend is in line with behaviour seen in other drinks categories that have seen a rise in popularity of South American agave-based spirits across the board, due in part to the increasing premiumisation of the tequila market.
It’s unsurprising that the majority of these new releases come from brewers in those US states closest to Mexico – California and Texas, for example – who share the most common cultural ground between them. And while general culture is a strong motivation for creating these styles of beer, the growing craft beer scene in Mexico is undoubtedly an inspiration too. As a result, a number of brewers aren’t just creating their own takes on these styles, but collaborating with craft brewers in Mexico to create new beers too.
Lighter & Brighter Flavours
Consumer demand is another reason for a rise in popularity: the style of traditional Mexican lager is also in keeping with a general move towards lighter, brighter flavours. The beer style also provides positive associations not only with Mexico itself, but also with sunshine and festivities. As Shiner Brewery says of its Mexican-style lager Cerveza de Verano, it “makes any day feel just a little more festive”.
Indeed, many of these new Mexican-style beers are aimed at summertime, with many launched in time for Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
The main style that US brewers are taking inspiration from is the distinctive Mexican lager, characterized by the addition of corn to the mash bill, although only a few US brewers include this when replicating the style – one example being Saint Archer for its Mexican Lager. But these brewers are instead making their mark by adding other ingredients, often citrus, or by using citrus-led hops to emulate the effect of a wedge of lime served with the beer. Across the pond, UK brewers have begun to explore Mexican-style lager too, including Camden Town Brewery’s recent limited-edition Arch 55 Series Camden Mexican Lager.
US brewers are increasingly drawing on Mexican beer styles, flavours, ingredients and culture for inspiration when producing their beers.
Positive associations with Mexico’s culture and festivals, and with sunshine and summertime, are helping to drive these new beers.
The majority of these beers are from US states neighbouring Mexico, but the style is emerging from further afield, and even from the UK.
While Mexican lager is the style most US brewers draw on, many are including ingredients such as agave or hibiscus, and some are producing entirely different beer styles with Mexico as an influence.
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