It’s emblem features a skeletal outlaw, his features obscured by a cowboy hat and red bandana as he brandishes two firearms. ‘Los Muertos’ might translate to ‘The Dead’ but – just like the rich culture which inspired its naming – the moniker of this Mexican style lager is neither dark nor morbid. A joyous celebration of vitality, vigor, and life, ‘Los Muertos’ represents another clean, crisp alternative within the Fort Brewery lineup.
Among popular beer styles, the Mexican style lager rates as one of the most interesting in terms of both its history and overall genealogy. A cultural hybridization, it has roots in both pre-Columbian Mexico and pre-Napoleonic Austria, yielding an oddly-complimentary flavor profile both widely-accessible and inarguably refreshing. In terms of major commercial brands, the style might be most recognizable in the form of Corona, Dos Equis, and Modelo. So, if you’ve been known to enjoy those, we invite you to give ‘Los Muertos’ a try. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s talk a little bit more about Mexican style lagers, the diverse history which led to their creation and what makes them so popular.
It’s a story that could stretch back as far as 150 BCE, to the ancient city of Teotihuacan. That said, we’ll focus more on the unlikely unification of two opposed geographies, their brewing processes, and their palates.
All too often, recognition of Mexican spirits are limited to the likes of Tequila and Mezcal. An almost criminal disregard of the nation’s rich brewing history, Mesoamerican beers have a rich and storied history, dating well before the arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.
As with any other culture, the first of these beers was achieved through the fermentation of native plants. The prevalence of such distinctive flavors as corn, agave, and cocoa provided the beers of this geography with unique characteristics unknown to any foreign palate. One might only refer to the products as ‘beer’ in the loosest of senses. As products native to Mexico they would be known as pulque or pozol, and their resemblance to beer (in any modern sense) was fleeting, at best.
We’ll talk more about the European influences to arise in the 19th century, but three hundred years before that, the presence of the conquistador Hernán Cortés would mark the first meeting of Mesoamerican and European brews. That said, availability and taxation would challenge widespread integration of European offerings in Mexico, but they would gain popularity among the native communities. At the time, brewing rights were controls, with only a few European entities granted the exclusive rights to brew beer for Mexican consumption. But with even a controlled introduction, European beers had expanded the Mexican palate – and would begin to influence Mexican brewing on a progressively wider scale.
Taking its name most appropriately from the city in which it originated, the Vienna Lager is visually characterized by its mid-to-light amber appearance, its flavor which carries hints of toasted caramel and an ABV which traditionally falls between 4.5-5.5%. It shares many characteristics with German Märzen-style beers, which makes it incredibly popular during fall months – but it also displays lighter characteristics which make it well-suited for summer and warm climate consumption.
So, how does a Viennese lager find its way across the Atlantic, helping to inspire the creation of today’s Mexican-style lager? To tell that story, we need to go back to 1863, when the seizing of Mexico by the French Empire under Napoleon’s leadership positioned Austrian-born Ferdinand Maximilian Joseph Hasburg as the new Emperor of Mexico. With that appointment, came an influx of Austrians over a three-year period. And while the tumultuous tenure of Emperor Maximilian I was short-lived (and ended with his execution) the influence of Austrian brewing practices (including that of Vienna-style lagers) introduced during that time, would have a lasting effect on Mexican brewing practices. And with European interest in the style waning, it would become more commonly associated with Mexican brewing.
Thus the Vienna Lager had all-but completely emigrated to Mexico, leading to the foundation of Austro-Mexican brewing traditions, and phasing out many of the native-styled options that served as commercial competition. Over time, other styles would be embraced, as well – but we’ll save those conversations for another day. Let’s turn our attention to the subject, in its modern form.
Light, crisp and refreshing, Mexican style lagers have become an easy favorite, driven by both seasonality and climate. Commonly associated with summer, vacations, beaches, and barbecues, the lightness and session ability of these beers make them a festive favorite.
Because (yes) these beers are often associated with Mexican cuisine, and rightfully so. From tacos and tostadas to churros and caveats, Mexican lagers rarely overpower the flavor of its partnered dish and act as a welcome palate cleanser. And pairings aren’t limited to authentic Mexican or Tex-Mex dishes. Here at Fort Brewery, we go WAY ‘outside the box’ and recommend that you enjoy our ‘Los Muertos’ with Garlic Knots. Take our word for it.
By now, we hope that you’re excitedly ready to embrace the outlaw appeal of ‘Los Muertos.’ But in a sea of Coronas, Dos Equis, and Mexican favorites like Tecate…one question remains: why should you?
Los Muertos (5.5% ABV)
As we like to say, it’s a style unto itself – celebrating the rich legacy of Mexican style lagers, but combining it with the happiness of an IPA. By merging the characteristics of both American and German hops, it’s an amalgam of some of the most appealing flavor profiles out there – and yet, it retains all the refreshing cleanliness of its more traditional cousins.
At the end of the day, it comes down to our appreciation of unification and community. Like a community, we believe that a product can be something greater than the whole of its parts, and we believe ‘Los Muertos’ to represent that sentiment in beer-form. It embodies each and every one of its brewing and cultural influences, without sacrificing its own unique identity.
Choosing Fort Brewery
Much like Los Muertos (and our entire Fort Brewery lineup) we celebrate unity and community in all that we do. In 1854 (a full-decade before the Austrians came to Mexico) our great, great grandfather Carroll Peak was one of Fort Worth’s founding fathers. And much like us (his very proud descendants), he wasn’t afraid to try his hand at a few different things. Both a doctor and a pharmacist, he contributed to the establishment of our public school system, mail service, and our city’s longest-surviving church.
As such, we’re committed to building a community that welcomes everyone in Fort Worth; a community that each and every one of us can be proud of. Fort Brewery is just one piece of that puzzle but it’s one that we take immense pride in. With a selection of beers as diverse as our community, we aim to offer something for everyone.
In other words ‘Los Muertos’ (Mexican Style Lager) keeps good company. It joins the likes of ‘Grey Eagle’ (Hefeweizen), ‘Ocho’ (IPA0, ‘Clara (Kölsch), ‘Moonrider’ (Oatmeal Stout), ‘1849’ (Irish Red Ale) and our ‘Zeppelin’ (Marzen).
No matter what style you find refreshing, you can find it here at Fort Brewery.