Avoid the Clear Beer Bottles This Cinco de Mayo

modeloespecial.gif
You can't go wrong with a beautiful brown bottle.
"I don't drink much Mexican beer," laughed Justin Vann over the phone on Tuesday afternoon.

I'd called on the beer and wine manager at Central Market in hopes of getting some recommendations for off-the-beaten path Mexican beers for Cinco de Mayo. What I got instead was a lesson on colored glass and pairings, two subjects which Vann feels strongly about and two subjects which are often overlooked when it comes to Mexican beer.

"If I could tell everyone one thing, it would be this," Vann stated emphatically. "Don't buy the beer in clear bottles. I mean, Corona skunks in an hour. If it's in sunlight, an hour; in halogen light, a couple of hours." Clear and green bottles, he said, are the equivalent of purposely packaging your milk in a container that makes it easier (and quicker) for the milk to spoil. Brown glass bottles or cans are the best way to go.

But, he continued, "beer nerds are on the lookout for that stuff anyway. I will audibly complain about Corona and its skunkiness. The packaging is making it taste that way. It's something we should weed out," he finished.

So that's a "no" to recommending products like Corona and other so-called "international lagers," then? "It's like encouraging someone to eat McDonald's," Vann said.

But that doesn't mean there aren't Mexican beers he does recommend for your Cinco de Mayo celebrations tomorrow. Just make sure not to look for them in a Tex-Mex restaurant.

"I see [Cinco de Mayo] as a Tex-Mex holiday," Vann said. Like, this is the day we go shopping at Macy's and eat Tex-Mex food." He's not too far off; Cinco de Mayo is rarely celebrated in Mexico outside of small-scale festivities in Puebla. And although beer companies like to capitalize on Cinco de Mayo as a beer-drinking holiday on par with Saint Patrick's Day, Vann says the ironic truth is that Mexican beer doesn't really pair well with Mexican or Tex-Mex food.

Real Ale Pheonixx Double ESB.preview.jpg
Not Mexican, but pairs well with Mexican and Tex-Mex food regardless.
"Mexican food is probably the least well paired with beer," he lamented. You go to a place like Xuco Xicana or El Real and the food is amazing but their beer selection is as authentic as the queso is. It's all adjunct lagers like Miller Lite or Coors Lite." And that's frustrating to Vann.

"Texan beer deserves more support than these international, adjunct lagers do," he said. In their places, he'd like to see more craft beers, more beer from Texas and, he gushed, "I'd love to see an IPA in a Mexican restaurant."

As for the beers that most places do have available, however, Vann has one solid recommendation: Negra Modelo. "It's just like a Vienna lager. It's really an exact clone of an Oktoberfest," he said. And in that vein, he recommends non-Mexican beers like Ska Brewing ESB, Real Ale ESB or Phoenix Double ESB to those who are cooking at home or have a BYOB option at their local Tex-Mex joint.

Otherwise, Vann says, always opt for the Mexican beers in cans: "Just the regular Modelo in a can is delicious," he said. "And Victoria is a really good Mexican beer; it's somewhere in between the regular Modelo and the Negra Modelo in style and taste."

As for me, I'll be celebrating with a few cans of Sierra Madre, a microbrew from Monterrey that's a pilsner, yes, but a damn good one. And, of course, it's in a can.



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19 comments
Beer_Pusher75
Beer_Pusher75

Negro Modelo is not a clone of an Oktoberfest. It IS a Vienna. There are notable differences between the two styles. You can't call it one thing, but say it's a clone of another. They are close to each other, but not one in the same. Examples of Oktoberfest/Marzens would Spaten or Paulaner Oktoberfest. Put those two up against a Brooklyn Lager or Sam Adams (Vienna's) and I think you'll see the difference.

LennieAmbrose
LennieAmbrose

El Real actually has Saint Arnold seasonal on tap there. Ole!

SirRon
SirRon

Speaking of beers that don't hold up well in the bottle, what is up with Real Ale's Phoenix Double ESB?

Why are we celebrating Cinco de Mayo again? Ehh, *burp* nevermind. -St. Patrick's Day.

ostiones
ostiones

I love Cerveza Superior but haven't seen it in years. Does anyone know where to get it, besides Mexico? As for the clear bottles, I've had no problems with Modelo Especial in bottles, delicious.

romen
romen

INDIO is a great mexican beer, but i dont believe its available here in the states

Jon
Jon

While Corona is very overrated, I had always heard that since they use imitation hops, the clear bottles don't pose a hazard. I had a friend in college who was allergic to hops, and it was the only beer he could drink. Keep in mind this is all anecdotal, though.

Bruce R
Bruce R

I'm loath to say this, but I think Mexican beers go well with Mexican food, and IPAs are a horrible pairing with most foods. The corn used Mexican beers goes with the corn in Mexican food. And the Modelo in the can is not delicious--it is boring. Victoria is also flaccid and dull. Negra Modelo is a fine beer, as are Noche Bueno and Bohemia.

Greg Burland
Greg Burland

Katharine, I think you mean ESB for all the above mentioned Extra Special Bitters. Also, not much beats a hot day in Houston like a cold Modelo Especial with a lime, or a Nerga Modelo with a plate of enchiladas.

Dundle
Dundle

I think you mean ESB and not ESP.

ESB=Extra special/strong bitters

Ddementia
Ddementia

no kidding. wonder if that's why the tint sunglasses?

SirRon
SirRon

Like Marzens and Viennas, there are differences between Negro Modelos and Negra Modelos.

Beer_Pusher75
Beer_Pusher75

We're all full of typos today. *Negra Modelo

JarrodJM
JarrodJM

Gotta disagree. The reason Justin is saying mexican food doesn't go with mexican beer is that mexican food is bigger on flavor. A bottle of corona just can't stand up to the flavors in a beef fajita from ninfa's on navigation with guac and salsa. The IPA has a bold enough flavor to cut threw the fat (from the cheese) and spiciness present in most tex-mex food. Also, I think Justin is saying go for modelo and victoria not because they are awesome beers, but because they don't skunk like so many other mexican beers.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I don't know. . .I've had a couple of beers that seemed like they could read my mind

Bruce R
Bruce R

Wrong. The bitterness in an IPA does not pair well with most foods. Similarly, you would be wise to avoid cooking with IPAs--too bitter. Having said that, if you want a drink with your meal then choose something strong and dry like Duvel, or make the obvious choice and drink wine. Or a strong margarita, rocks, salt.

Katharine Shilcutt
Katharine Shilcutt

Extra-embarrassing slip of the fingers while transcribing. Eep! It's been corrected now. Although I wouldn't mind a mind-reading beer myself.

LennieAmbrose
LennieAmbrose

I could not disagree more about IPA not going with foods. One of my favorite meals is to go to a BYOB thai place like Vieng Thai and bring a a selection of different IPAs. It's one of the few styles that really stands up to the spice and intensity of the food and the hops work really well with the citrus flavors like lime.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

Hey, at least you weren't advocating the drinking of bear!

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