The Mexican style Lager beer has a long brewing history. In 1864, Napoleon III appointed Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph Habsburg of Austria as the Emperor of Mexico. This reign was turbulent, hence why it only lasted three years and he was executed in 1867. However, his reign encouraged thousands of Austrians to move to Mexico, and of course they brought their beer recipes and brewing traditions with them.
In the late 1800s an Austrian brewer named Santiago Graf began importing the hops and malt necessary to brew a Vienna style Lager, but he added an extra ingredient that changed everything. He added the inexpensive, plentiful, local ingredient, corn. By adding in corn, the beers body was lightened, a touch of sweetness was revealed, and the Mexican style Lager was born.
The Austro-Mexican brewing traditions continued with this Vienna and Mexican Lager recipe hybrid. So far we know that by combining these styles the Mexican style Lager recipe calls for flaked maize (corn), Vienna malt, and Lager yeast. On top of this the recipe might contain other malt varieties, and some hops, although the majority of Mexican Lagers avoid significant hopping.
Despite it's name, the Mexican style Lager has more in common with a Vienna Lager, than it does with the light fizzy Mexican Lager beers made today by big companies like Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico. Unlike in the big company Mexican Lager style, where corn is used as a cheap fermentable, corn used to be used to dry out the body of the beer a bit and keep it from being sickeningly sweet.
As a whole the best Mexican style Lagers are balanced, malt forward, moderately bitter, and generally low in alcohol. Clean and chuggable these Mexican style Lagers are perfect with a slice of lime and pair best with spicy dishes.
Enjoy this amazing varietal in your next monthly beer club shipment. Cheers!
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