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Hispanic Craft Brewers Expand What It Means to Be a Mexican-Style Beer

Corn mash and innovative, flavorful adjuncts are culture in a bottle.
Four types of hops and passion fruit combine in Xicha’s hazy IPA.

Four types of hops and passion fruit combine in Xicha’s hazy IPA.

Source: Xicha Brewing

Javier and Jose Lopez remember their father’s beer. A Durango-born ironworker living in Hermosa, the mostly Hispanic neighborhood in Chicago, their dad was a Budweiser man. But sometimes the brothers, now in their mid- and late 30s, recall that at parties or special occasions, the senior Lopez would break out an import from his native Mexico. It wasn’t until the boys were old enough to drink that they discovered the only substantial difference between a Bud and a Corona or Pacifico, all American-style pale lagers, was the country of origin.

Today, as co-owners of Chicago’s Casa Humilde Cerveceria, the brothers are among the few but influential 2.2% of craft brewers who are “Hispanic, Latina -o, or of Spanish Origin” (according to an audit from the Brewers Association) putting a more authentic cultural spin on craft beer. Simply slapping on Spanish beer names and Mesoamerican-influenced label art won’t cut it—it’s about flavor. “It’s kind of tying it all together: artwork, branding, ingredients and adjuncts like hibiscus, passion fruit, piloncillo [Latin American brown sugar] and prickly pear,” says Jose. “For us it’s like culture in a can.”