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Grainfather Blog - Road to Homebrew Con: Mexico

By Sam Loader - Resident Grainfather Brewer 28/06/2018 16:13 Comments


Mexico: Amber Lager



Overall Impression: A well-attenuated malty amber lager with an interesting caramel or toast quality and restrained bitterness. Usually fairly well-attenuated, often with an adjunct quality. Smooth, easily-drinkable lager character. 

Aroma: Low to moderate malt aroma which can be grainy, with a very low to moderate caramel-sweet to the toasty-malty aroma. Hop aroma can range from low to none with a mildly floral or spicy character. Clean lager profile. A slight DMS or corny aroma is acceptable. 

Appearance: Golden-amber to reddish-copper colour. Bright clarity. White to off-white foam stand which may not last.

Flavour: Low to moderate malt profile which can vary from dry to grainy-sweet. Low to moderate levels of caramel and toasty bread notes can be evident. Low to medium-low corny sweetness is optional, but not a fault. Hop bitterness is low to moderate and hop flavour is low to moderate with a spicy, herbal, or floral character. The balance can be fairly malty to nearly even, with the bitterness becoming more noticeable but not objectionable. The bitterness level can increase if the malt character increases to match. Clean fermentation profile. Finish is moderately dry with a moderately malty aftertaste.

Mouthfeel: Light to medium body. Medium to high carbonation. Smooth; some examples can be creamy.

History: From it's inception, fast forward a couple hundred years. Mexico’s brewing history is one of ups and downs. Unlike its neighbour to the north, there is no established European-style brewing tradition for much of the colonial period, but it kicked off in the 19th century after that small scuffle called the Mexican War of Independence concluded in 1821.

After the war, German and Austrian immigrants began settling in what is today Texas and Mexico, but there isn’t a direct line from those settlers to modern day, mass-marketed beer. In fact, the Mexican-style lager has more in common with Vienna lager than with the light, fizzy beers many associates with the country today, and for many years it was easier to find Vienna lager in Mexico than in its native land.

Originally developed by Anton Dreher in Vienna in the mid-19th century, the malty, copper-coloured beer began to fall out of favour in Europe as pale lagers took over. However, brewers trained in the Vienna style made their way to modern-day Mexico, where they continued the Vienna lager tradition.

The beer’s influence greatly grew when Maximilian I, a Vienna-born member of the House of Hapsburg-Lorraine, was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico in 1864. He and his band of beer drinkers brought a love of Vienna lager with them, and although Maximilian I did not last long as Emperor—he was executed in 1867—a taste for Vienna lagers continued.

Characteristic Ingredients: Two-row or six-row base malt. Colour malts such as victory, amber, etc. Caramel malt adjuncts. European or American hops or a combination of both. Style Comparison: Less well-developed malt flavour than a Vienna lager, often with an adjunct taste. 

Vital Statistics: OG: 1.042 – 1.055 IBUs: 8 – 25 FG: 1.008 – 1.014 SRM: 7 – 14 ABV: 4.6 – 6.0%

Commercial Examples: Dos Equis Amber, Cuauhtémoc Noche Buena, Negra Modelo

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