Posted on May 4th, 2010
Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, the yearly holiday which celebrates all things Mexican. The festival dates back to May 5, 1862 when Mexican Republic forces defeated the invading French military at the Battle of Puebla, despite being vastly outnumbered. Although the holiday is not currently celebrated through much of Mexico, it remains as popular as ever in the United States and other parts of the world. Along with Mexican food, a great way to honor Mexico tomorrow is to enjoy some tasty Mexican brews.
The origins of Mexican beer can actually be traced back to the events surrounding the Battle of Puebla. That battle was just one small part of the larger Franco-Mexican War, and despite Mexico’s victory at Puebla, the French would ultimately win the war, ending the Mexican Republic and establishing the brief Second Mexican Empire. In 1864 The French installed Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph of Austria as Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who brought with him much of the Austrian way of life, including brewing, which was previously unknown to the area.
Maximilian’s reign and the Second Mexican Empire were extremely short lived. The Empire was overthrown by republican forces just three years later in 1867 and Maximilian was executed. While the Mexicans clearly didn’t take kindly to Max, they did like his beer. Ever since then Mexican breweries have continued to produce the Vienna lager Max introduced to them.
Vienna lagers are a crisp and refreshing style of lager that’s primarily marked by its light to medium body and biscuity taste. Although most closely associated with Mexican beers such as Dos Equis, Modelo Especial, many common American beers, such as Sam Adams Boston Lager, are technically Vienna lager. Snake River Lager from Snake River Brewing in Wyoming is tough to find but universally regarded as one of the best in the style. Bohemia, despite its German name is actually made by a Mexican brewing company.
Corona is of course bound to show up at any Cinco De Mayo celebration. While unquestionably the most popular Mexican beer, we can’t recommend drinking it. Much like Budweiser is a poor imitation of a Czech pilsner, Corona is also a terrible approximation of what Vienna lager should be, so be warned. Drinking one tomorrow may be tough to avoid, but you should at least know what you’re getting yourself into.