Wednesday, March 31, 2010
I had heard of a recent addition to the San Miguel bar scene, a place called Drinks, that boasts a wide selection of specialty wines and hard to find Mexican and import beers. So, armed with an unquenchable thirst, I went to meet a couple beer loving friends to see if Drinks has what it takes to satisfy my desires for a good ale in Mexico.
This discrete establishment is just a niche in one of the historic colonial structures located close to the jardin but carries a wide variety of interesting beer. Owner, Jose Antonio opened for business just six months ago after being so impressed with the quality of a barley wine he sampled that was brewed by Cucapa Brewing. He launched Drinks on the premise that, like himself, the people of Mexico are ready to expand their beer interests beyond the traditional 'claro and obscura' lagers put out by the dominant brewers, Modelo and Moctezuma.
The entrance to this ancient spanish colonial building belies the modern interior design. A narrow stretch of table continues along both side walls and are underlit with blue neon. Spot lights brighten the ultra white walls and behind the back bar is a shelving system that displays the numerous choices of beers from all over Mexico. A kind of trance jazz plays on the stereo sytem.
Some of the breweries represented are Minerva Brewing of Guadalajara, Cucapa Brewing of Mexicali, Baja California and Tijuana Guera of Tijuana, Baja California.
Mario and Cameron soon arrived and we began our tasting by sharing a couple of import beers, Fullers IPA and Bombardier premium bitter. Of course we had to taste a few Mexican micro brews including a wheat beer called Templario from the Cerveceria Siglo Trece or Thirteenth Centurey Brewery.
Soon I noticed a bottle of La Chouffe "McChouffe" on display and asked Jose Antonio (pictured in this post) about it. He didn't have any stock at the time and he must have noted my dissapointment (see tear running down cheek) because he quickly put the display sample in the refrigerator to chill it for me. After some time of drinking and using my bad spanish with Mario about the homebrewing scene in Mexico, Jose Antonio returned with the Belgian Ale. He poured samples for us all and after a studied taste I declared it the best beer I've ever had in Mexico. It was a great end to a wonderful experience at Drinks!
Drinks can be found at Correo No. 17 Centro, San Miguel De Allende and if you're in San Miguel or visiting soon, Jose Antonio's also own a car rental business that I have used and recommend.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Because we held this dinner late in the season here, the turn out was about half of what it was last year which led to a stress free evening compared to last year's frenzy. I got caught up in the moment, serving and talking about the beers with people, and didn't get the pictures I wanted. Fortunately, my friend Carlos sent me a few he had taken of the appetizer and dessert. Alas, no shots of the main course.
Saturday, March 13, 2010
Second Annual Artisan Ale and Food Pairing
Mark Taylor, Californian "Professor" of home-brew, is back with three San Miguel brewed ales to share with fellow beer lovers. His beer is not like what we pop open on a hot day or wash down with a spicy bite. His are flavors for thought, aromas that bear recollections, ales that develop and transform with each sip. This year Mark's brew is strong. Ales that taunt your palate between bitter and sweet, rich in hops, grains and spices, along with a high alcohol volume, creating a unique beer tasting experience.
Pairing these beers with food is a challenge. Each beer is so rich, complex and complete on its own. The Imperial IPA is a beer "all about the hops," describes Mark. And indeed it is. It reminded me of a store I worked at during college in Boston where they sold fresh hops. When you opened that refrigerator door filled with baggies of a wide variety of hops the smell surrounded you by damp, fresh moss of a deep, green forest, so lush that only flashes of sky and streaks of light could creep through. Sipping the Imperial takes you there.
But what about food? I'm looking for foods that allow you to play with the flavors. So you can ask yourself, for example "what does the Imperial taste like with the memory of mole on my tongue?" So, we will start with 3 mini sopes. One topped with chicken in a dark, sweet mole, one with creamy rajas and another with fresh cheese baked in smoky chipotle tomato sauce. We will follow with the Honey Red Ale, the lightest of the three, a traditional pale ale made with honey from the Tuesday market. Its mellow sweetness followed by a grapefruit bitter will be accompanied by a lamb, salmon or eggplant mixiote on a pillow of plantain tamal wrapped and steamed in a banana leaf and served with cilantro rice. And for dessert the Weizenbock. A German beer brewed equally with wheat and malted barley, spiced with clove, nutmeg and cinnamon with hints of vanilla and dried fruits. This beer will be served with a fried crepe filled with sweet citron requeson (a Mexican ricotta) topped with cajeta and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
If you are interested in joining us for our second annual Mark Taylor/Burrito Bistro Beer Pairing event seating times will be at 2:00, 4:30 and 7:00 pm on Sunday March 21 at El Burrito Bistro, Correo #45. The cost will be $250 pesos per person, there is only enough beer for 60, so this event will be by reservation only. You can reserve at 1548956 or email at email@example.com
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Granted, there are some brewing devices on the market like Morebeers'
sterile siphon starter and Northern Brewers' auto siphon, but this post is to show the beginner how easy and inexpensive it can be to start a siphon with the basics.
The key to this process is holding and moving the hose and cane with one hand to prevent the liquid from escaping.
- Submerge transfer hose into sanitizing solution insuring that the entire length of hose fills with the solution. It is important that the hose fills with the sanitizer, it is ineffective to coil or bunch up the hose and push the whole wad down at once. The way I make sure the hose fills is by starting one end of the hose down in the liquid and threading the hose down evenly coiling down into the bucket as I go.
- Place racking cane in the sanitizer.
- After a couple minutes of soaking it's time to remove the hose.
- While submerged, grab both ends of the filled hose and place evenly in one hand. Lift the hose out of the solution.
- Lift one end of the hose slightly higher then the other end to cause some liquid to come out, leaving a couple inches of empty space at each end of the hose. Again, place both ends of hose evenly in one hand.
- Take racking cane out of solution with free hand and shake off excess liquid. You will do this while still holding the hose evenly with the other hand.
- Stab the racking cane into one end of the hose. Now you should be holding both ends of hose along with the cane in one hand.
- Still with one hand, carefully lift and lower the cane into the vessel to be siphoned.
- Now simply drop the free end of hose to start the siphon.
- Pinch the hose where it connects to the cane to eliminate trapped air bubble.
- Run sanitizer from hose onto the ground or a bucket and then divert beer flow to receiving vessel.
It seems complicated reading all the above instructions but doing the procedure once and it will all make complete sense. Again, the secret to this success is having the assembled hose/cane in one hand.
Thursday, March 4, 2010
Cabrito, the tequila embued grapefruit drink. Not just plain old grapefruit juice but "El autentico de Toronja!" according to the label. Reading the can, I discovered that this modestly alcoholic beverage (5.8% abv) is made of carbonated water, tequila blanco, sugar and grapefruit concentrate. Tequila Cabrito or tequila kid (like the goat) in english, is a product made by the Tequila Centinela company in Jalisco, Mexico.
The flavor is suprisingly good. Crisp, citrusy, and tangy. Very similar to a well made margarita but with the difference of the grapefruit flavor and a little on the sweet side but not so much that I couldn't finish the 12oz. can. But like the can suggests, it is best served very cold to retain the crispness and ward off the cloying sweetness that gathers speed as you finish a glass.
If you live in Mexico and know of a good place to find imported beer, leave a comment here for all us desperately deprived beer lover. Your efforts will be greatly appreciated.