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Feliz Cinco de Mayo! (Happy Cinco de Mayo!)

Hola, mis amigos – Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todos!

Hola, mis amigos, y bienvenidos. Feliz Cinco de Mayo a todos!

(Thank you, Google Translate, for fixing my very rusty Spanish…)

Contrary to popular belief, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day.

Instead, it’s the date in 1862 when the Mexican army defeated Napoleon III’s French forces in the Battle of Puebla. (Who knew! I didn’t, until recently…)

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Mmmmm. How convenient – Cinco de Mayo is also National Enchilada Day!

Mmm. Cinco de Mayo is also Enchilada Day!

Cinco de Mayo is actually an even bigger fiesta day here in the US than in Mexico – giving us a great excuse for a close-up look at Mexican beer.

Because it’s also National Enchilada Day, we’ll have something tasty, substantial, and just right – to soak up all that great cerveza

 
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Mexican beer – serve ice cold, with a wedge of lime.

Mexican beer – serve ice cold, with a wedge of lime.

I admit I’m kind of a lightweight when it comes to beer styles.

Just as I don’t enjoy big, brash, tannic wines, the bitter, “hops-centric” brews just don’t do it for me.

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A great "Geographic" pairing – food and beverage from the same part of the world. It's a natural!

A great “Geographic” pairing – food and drink from the same part of the world.

I learned when I first moved to California that Mexican beers were very much to my liking, both solo and with good Mexican food.

They’re light and mild, and they’re refreshing.But there’s lots, lots more….

So, to fill you in on some details, here’s a “Top Ten List” – in no particular order – of fun factoids about Mexican beer…

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1 – Even before the 16th-century Spanish conquest, the Aztecs – in what is now Mexico – were brewing a beer-like concoction, for both drinking and ceremonies, from fermented corn.

2 – When German immigrants arrived en masse in the 19th century, they looked to their tried-and-true European brewing styles such as lager. Moreover, Mexico’s Emperor Maximilian I – who even had his own brewer to make the Vienna-style dark beer he loved – belonged to the dynastic Habsburg family of Austria.

Corona – in the clear glass bottle – is Mexico's #1 imported beer.

Corona – in the clear glass bottle – is Mexico’s #1 imported beer.

3 – Most Mexican beer today is pilsner style, named originally for the city of Plzen, near Prague, in what’s now the Czech Republic. Basically a pale lager, this style today is the most popular in the world.

4 – As of 2003, Mexico leapfrogged the Netherlands as the world’s biggest exporter of beer. And it’s no surprise that over 80% of Mexico’s exports cross the border into the US.

5 – Though there are scores of individual brands of Mexican beer out there, just two “umbrella” companies dominate 80+% of the market. One owns Tecate, Dos Equis, Bohemia and the Christmas-seasonal Noche Buena, among others; the second includes Corona, Negra Modelo and Pacifico.

6 – Corona is Mexico’s best-selling beer. (Guess all those ads, with the long-necked bottles topped with lime wedges – and especially the carefree beach chairs and secluded cove – did the trick!)

"Dos Equis" (Two X's), originally referred to the upcoming 20th century.

“Dos Equis” (Two X’s), brewed since 1897, originally referred to the upcoming 20th century.

7 – Dos Equis, with its familiar “XX” label, dates back to 1897. The German-born brewer who created it named it “Siglo XX,” meaning “Century 20,” to celebrate the upcoming turn-of-the-calendar.

Even the “Most Interesting Man In The World” drinks it – or at least he did, before he got shipped off to Mars…

8 – Unlike their numerous and wildly popular US counterparts, microbreweries have yet to catch on in a big way in Mexico. Though a few pioneers are attempting to lead the way, there is immense competition from the big brands, which in turn are owned by the bigger mega-conglomerates.

9 – Being so light and refreshing, the typical Mexican beer fits really well into the world of cocktails. Try the popular Michelada: ice-cold beer with lime juice and ground chili pepper, with a Margarita-like rim of salt.

10 – Anyone who’s ever popped the top off a Mexican brew knows that the Spanish word for beer is cerveza. Except for Portuguese, where it’s the very similar cerveja, the words for “beer” in other Romance languages – bière in French, birra in Italian, even bere in Romanian (did you even know that it was a Romance language?) – sound more like the German bier, and of course beer in English.

Once again, my friends, Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Happy Cinco de Mayo again, my friends!

We have Ceres – the Roman goddess of grain, the harvest and motherly love – to thank for cerveza (both the word and the brew), and for today’s Cinco de Mayo toasts.

Hope you’ve enjoyed our South of the Border beer adventure! Happy Cinco de Mayo again, my friends –

Until next time, mis amigos,
Cheers and happy tastings –
Rosina

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