Are You Tasting the Pith? - 31st July 05
Mexican breweries have it lucky. By and large, Mexican beer is piss-poor, designed solely to quench the thirst and look nice in a clear painted bottle. Sometimes it is seized upon as the Next Big Thing, and you can't get away from the bloody stuff (see Sol in the early 1990's, and Corona at the moment). At the time of writing, there are a couple of bloody great big illuminated Corona bottles in Leeds, signifying its terrifying rise to prominence as the new Heineken - ubiquitous, boring, and the default choice for many.
So how are we supposed to take Casta Dorada (5.5% abv) seriously? It has a distinctive, unique-to-the-brewery bottle, and an eye-catching label that looks suspiciously like it has been designed to be attractive to females (one of my current least favourite concepts when attached to a beer). Being a Thoroughly Broadminded Chap, however, I have learnt that appearances can be deceiving, and one shouldn't judge a beer on hearsay and claptrap. Ten minutes in the freezer, and the beer is ready.
Surprisingly, there is a good waft of malt and citrussy hops coming from the glass - something in the ball park of a weaker version of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and that is high praise indeed. In the mouth, there is a surprisingly brisk, zesty attack from the hops, a good smooth mouthfeel, and then a long, vaguely buttery/oaky finsh that reminds me of a much more subdues version of Innis and Gunn's Oak Aged Beer. Crikey, pretty good actually.
So, I'm primed and a bit surprised by this experience - a tasty, golden Mexican ale (yes, it is actually an ale) that I would seek out and buy again. Hmm, surely Casta Morena (6% abv) is going to be a bit of a letdown? But no - a huge burst of coffee and fig aromas burst out of the glass after pouring, and on first taste, I'm immediately transported back to Harpers Restaurant, where I cut my cooking teeth. Why? Because the beer tastes exactly like Fig Sue, a popular desert that was basically figs soaked in beer, mashed and blended with whipped cream (and maybe some rum?). Brilliant, what a great beer - big, rich, fruity and best of all, a complete surprise, as this is the last thing that I was expecting.
A defintie seek-out-and-try. Phwoar.
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