Crispy, tender Carnitas. Crunchy, battered fish dowsed in lime. Bold salsas in red, green, and gold. Cooling guacamole and sour cream to chill your scorched tongue. Let’s talk about your Cinco de Mayo plans.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s defeat of the French in 1862 in the Battle of Puebla. (It is not Mexican Independence Day, I repeat – NOT Mexican Independence Day. I hear that poor guess every year.) Though in America the day is more of a celebration of Mexican-American culture than an observance of military victory. Cinco de Mayo celebrations here in the U.S. usually mean parades, folkloric dancing, sweet tunes, and really, really, unreasonably good food.
Where there’s food and dancing – there’s alcohol. While Margs or straight up Tequila are lovely ways to rejoice in Mexican cultural influence, I’m here to suggest some beer.
Cinco de Mayo Celebration Plans
Now, you and your friends could all meet up at some local spot to chow down on tacos and throw back beer. You could, but this year Cinco de Mayo is on a Friday. That means loud, packed bars and restaurants. Waiting forever for your food, standing around trying to order your next beer. I say, cut the crowds and grill at your place or a friend’s home. Get that taco assembly line going, fill the cooler, and pick your own jams. There’ll be more than enough soft surfaces for when you need to lie or sit because you’ve got the meat sweats too. Serious bonus.
Having craft beer with real body and flavor to drink with your meal may sound unrealistic considering how pricey craft beer can get, but if you brew it yourself, it doesn’t have to be.
Cooler Full of Craft Beer
I’m offering up some homemade craft beer-quality picks that will take only 30 minutes to prep, and six weeks to complete. Not to mention, each of these extract brews comes in at under $22 dollars (though you’ll need to build or choose a kit if you don’t have one to start – kits run $44.95-$64.95 if you choose not to buy the components needed a la carte). These five brews pair perfectly with popular Mexican dishes likely to be at any Cinco de Mayo party.
(Blonde Ale) $17.95
Pale gold, crisp, and refreshing, Aztec is a perfect fit for those looking for a beer like Corona, Dos Equis, or Tecate, but smoother and more flavorful. Aztec goes down well with chicken dishes, as it carries its own without overpowering the lightly charred flavors of grilled chicken.
Carnitas and Amber Ale were meant to be together. In fact, some folks will even braise their pork in Amber Ale because the two flavors lend themselves well. The rich and savory, but crispy and browned flavor of Carnitas with malty, caramelly Bewitched Amber Ale is heaven. Bewitched Amber Ale also has enough hop bitterness to stand up to rich guacamole or sour cream that you might be enjoying with your chicken.
The bright, tart flavors of seafood, fresh citrus, and pico de gallo go best with the balanced flavor of a lager. American Lager is an Amber or Vienna Lager style, like Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager with Noble hop aromas, a smooth maltiness, and mild bitterness.
If you’re all about that carne asada with a bit of charred flavor, you’ll want a Porter with similar roasted notes that can match it. The bold, malty notes of American Porter will calm the heat of your dish in case you get crazy with the salsa.
Stouts go best with hearty dishes, so if you’ve got some dishes that incorporate rich chunks of beef or pork, St. Patrick’s Irish Stout will make an excellent fit. Just as with the Porter suggestion, malt-forward beers like this one will tone down heat while bringing out roasted flavors. More hopped beers will amp up the heat. This beer would likely be a great pick if you end up enjoying a dish with Mole sauce as well, as it has chocolate notes to it.