¡Salud! to Mexican Lager

Few beers evoke the spirit of celebration and warmth quite like Mexican lager. Crisp, refreshing, and imbued with a rich cultural heritage, this style of beer has captivated the palates of beer enthusiasts worldwide. From the sun-soaked beaches of Baja, California to the bustling streets of Mexico City, Mexican lager has a long history. In honor of this month’s beer drop, let’s chat about Mexican beer and what makes Diebolt’s El Rayo the best cerveza you’ll drink this summer (or maybe ever). 

The Rich History of Beer Brewing in Mexico

The history of Mexican lager is intertwined with the rich tapestry of Mexican culture. Fermented beverages have been made since the time of the Aztecs, the most beer-like of which is known as tsegüino

Tsegüino remains popular to this day among Mexican indigenous groups, especially in the state of Chihuahua. It is made from sprouted corn, water, and sometimes sugar. The fermentation process can vary, but it often involves allowing the mixture to ferment naturally for several days, resulting in a mildly alcoholic beverage with a slightly sour taste. Tseguino holds cultural significance and is often consumed during festivals and celebrations.

While Spanish conquistadors brought European brewing techniques with them in the 16th century, beer production using malt and hops didn’t really take off in Mexico until the late 19th century. At this time, an influx of German and Austrian immigrants introduced modern brewing techniques to the country. These immigrants brought with them a brewing tradition that would eventually merge with local ingredients and brewing practices, giving birth to what we now recognize as Mexican lager.

What Kind of Beer Is A Mexican Lager?

What sets Mexican lager apart from its counterparts? At its core, Mexican lager is characterized by its light body, pale color, and crisp finish. It typically has a mild malt sweetness balanced by a subtle hop bitterness, making it incredibly drinkable, especially on hot summer days. Moreover, the use of corn or rice adjuncts in the brewing process lends a distinct smoothness and subtle sweetness to the beer, further enhancing its refreshing qualities.

What Are the Ingredients in Rayo Blanco?

Flaked Corn Maize

Flaked corn maize is corn that has been processed into flat, flaked pieces, similar in appearance to rolled oats or flattened rice. In brewing, flaked corn is used to supplement the malted barley or wheat in the grain bill. They can contribute various characteristics to the beer, such as flavor, body, color, and fermentability. Flaked corn, in particular, is prized for its ability to impart a subtle sweetness and smoothness to the beer, as well as lightening its body and color.

When added to the mash during the brewing process, flaked corn contributes fermentable sugars to the wort, which are then converted into alcohol by the yeast during fermentation. This helps boost the alcohol content of the beer while also contributing to its overall flavor profile. Additionally, flaked corn can enhance the mouthfeel of the beer, giving it a smoother, creamier texture.

Pilsner Malt Base

Pilsner malt is a type of malted barley that forms the base of many Mexican beer recipes. Pilsner malt is prized for its light color, and mild flavor, which makes it ideal for brewing pale lagers and other light-colored beers. It undergoes a specific malting process that includes germination, kilning, and sometimes a period of conditioning.

In Mexican beer recipes, pilsner malt serves as the primary malt base, along with the aforementioned flaked corn and rice additives. The combination provides the foundation for the beer’s flavor, color, and fermentable sugars.

Saaz

Saaz is a variety of hop that originated in the Czech Republic and is widely used in the brewing of traditional Czech pilsner lagers. It’s renowned for its distinctive aroma and flavor characteristics, which include floral, earthy, and slightly spicy notes.

In Mexican beer, particularly in styles like Mexican-style pilsners, Saaz hops can be used to provide a subtle yet distinctive hop presence. While Mexican beers often emphasize malt sweetness and crispness over pronounced hop bitterness, the addition of Saaz hops can contribute a touch of complexity to the beer’s flavor profile.

Can of craft Mexican lager with jaguar on the front
Diebolt’s Rayo Blanco Mexican Lager pays homage to this style’s crisp, lightly sweet flavors with a little punch from Czech Saaz hops. Es tan fresca, mis amigos. 

What Do Mexican Beers Taste Like?

Mexican beers encompass a diverse range of styles, but when most people think of Mexican beer, they often picture crips, refreshing lagers. These lagers typically have a few defining characteristics such as:

  • Crispness
  • Subtle sweetness
  • Light
  • Balanced flavor
  • Refreshing aroma

One of the joys of Mexican lager is its versatility when it comes to food pairings. Its light and crisp profile makes it an ideal companion for a wide range of dishes, from spicy tacos and tangy ceviche to grilled meats and fresh seafood. The subtle sweetness of the beer can help balance out the heat of spicy foods, while its fizziness cleanses the palate, preparing it for the next delightful bite.

Enjoy Craft Mexican Lager in Denver

Beyond its taste and aroma, Mexican lager embodies a larger cultural ethos—one of conviviality, warmth, and celebration. Whether enjoyed with friends at a backyard barbeque, sipped on a sun-drenched terrace overlooking the ocean, or savored during a festive gathering, Mexican lager has a way of bringing people together and creating lasting memories.

Diebolt’s Mexican Lager, Rayo Blanco, is no rookie: we’ve had it on tap for years under the name “El Nombre.” Rayo Blanco (translation: White Lightning) is this bad hombre’s introduction into the canned world. We’ve released it into the wild so you can stock up in plenty of time for summer.  

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