Friday, May 05, 2006

Cinco De Mayo means Beer in Spanish

There is nothing like a good holiday celebration. Almost every holiday should involve family, friends, food and drink. The major holidays are usually much anticipated and often associated with lots of excitement. Good old fashioned festivities. Me, I am a fan of the minor holidays. Jim Belushi said it best in an episode of According to Jim, "The kids have Christmas, the gays have Halloween, St. Patrick's Day is mine."

All my favorite holidays revolve around beer. I am a huge fan of St. Patrick's Day. I day dream about Octoberfest for at least a month prior. The thought of barbeques and beer bashes with the 3 summer holidays gets me through the cold winter months. And lastly, an often over looked, but celebrated none-the-less holiday has me dancing in the April showers waiting for the 5th of May. Cinco de Mayo.

Most people think that Cinco De Mayo is Mexican Independence Day. Nope, it's not. The Mexicans won their independence on another date. Cinco De Mayo marks the date that the Mexicans defeated the French in a battle where the French, led by Napoleon III, were trying to conquer the country. Now that we have that tidbit settled, let's talk about the drink. A holiday that revolves around eating spicy Mexican dishes and washing it down with cold beer is a holiday worth celebrating. Mexico is not really known for its beer, more so for its Tequila and Margaritas, but Mexico's beers are the most popular in our country. The best selling beer in America is Corona ( Who would have thought they could knock off Bud Light? Why should Bud complain? They won't, they own a huge share of Corona.) As far as Mexican beers go, I was more of a fan of Dos Equis or Tecate. An ice cold Tecate on a hot summer day hits the spot like William Tell's arrow in the apple on that poor guys head.

But when it comes to Cinco De Mayo and eating spicy Mexican food, only one beer stands the test of time, Negra Modelo. A well crafted, dark Mexican beer. Roasty color, malty smell with a crisp sweet finish. Awesome. I just downed a Negra Modelo beer with the Fajitas I made for dinner. A very enjoyable beer that I only seem to have on Cinco De Mayo. Sort of like a Guinness on St. Patrick's Day for the non-Guinness drinkers. When I popped the top on the Negra Modelo bottle of beer this 5th of May, it dawned on me that I only drink this beer once a year. I guess that is one of the reasons why I really look forward to Cinco De Mayo. Not only do I get to have a Mexican meal, but I get to drink a fine beer and get a little loco. Aribba, Aribba, Negra Modelo.

The Beers:

Brooklyn Lager: Talk about a beer that gives the impression of a domestic blue collar beer. Lagers are what the masses drink after a hard days, sweaty work. Brooklyn, a hardworking blue collar sounding town if I ever have heard of one. But this beer is as far away from blue collar as one can get. My first sip put me right smack in the middle of Prague. This was one of the best lagers I have ever swallowed. I tried my first one and immediately new I was sticking with this beer for the day.

Bierre de Gamme, La Rulles: This was my Easter dinner beer. A Belgium Ale, unfiltered, unpastuerized, bottle conditioned Ale. This beer had a sweet smell and a very enjoyable taste. A light crisp beer, despite packing a 8.4% alcohol by volume. She'll sneak up on you. Packaged in a champagne bottle.

Duvel: The Devil in Belgium. This beer was originally concocted because of the popularity of lighter, crisp ales. The Duvel brewers didn't want to lose market share to all those English ales that were making their way into the country. But don't let that fool you into thinking that this beer is a tame bitter ale. They don't call her the Devil for nothing. A well balanced, beautifully crafted beer with all the hallmarks of hundreds of years of Belgium brewing history. Duvel is crisp, well carbonated, tastes great cold and has enough alcohol in it to knock you over after a bottle or two.

Erdinger Hefe-Wiezen: When I lived in Ireland and this was the only wheat beer on draft that I could find, I thought Erdinger was awesome. Since then, in my area in New Jersey, Erdinger is not available and cannot be found. Luckily, a friend had a bottle to share with me. I saved it for the first warm, sunny day of spring. I Opened it up and poured it into my special Erdinger glass. My memory was better than the actual beer. While Erdinger is the number one selling wheat beer in the world, it's taste is more on the bland side. Decent beer, but nowhere as tasty as at least a dozen American micros of the same style. Erdinger does pour with an incredible champagne type consistancy.