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Mexico City: Noche Buena


IMG_3630, originally uploaded by ultraclay!.

As with most great discoveries, I stumbled upon Noche Buena purely by accident.
I saw an unfamiliar bottle sitting on top of the ice in the beer cooler at the bar of Sanborn's Department Store in Coyoacan (seriously, a bar in a department store, why don't we have this?). When I asked the bartender, he said "Noche Buena," which I misheard as "esta buena" or "It's good."

Turns out it is good. "Noche Buena" is a term for Christmas Eve. The beer is a seasonal that pops up between November and January every year since the 1920's. It's produced by Cerveceria Cuautémoc Moctezuma, the brewers of half the Mexican beer I'd heard of. Most familiar in the US markets for Tecate and Dos Equis, and maybe Sol and Bohemia, depending on the market.

The beer itself is unlike nearly any other Mexican beer I've ever tasted. Over the trip, I managed to taste not just this year's 'vintage' but a couple bottles each of the 2006 and 2005 releases, which the lady at the hotel bar described to me as 'Reposada,' literally meaning 'rested.' Each year had some variations in flavor, but all of them were deep amber in color with heavy caramel flavors.

I found the 2006's caramel sweetness to be a bit severe, while the 2005 was balanced out more with a strong carbonation and hops. Given the differences, I made a point of getting a couple bottles of the 2007 to hold onto until next year to see what difference the 'resting' makes.




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