The last of my trio of Cucapá beers, and certainly the pick of the bunch. Which is a little surprising, since you might fairly assume that a Mexican brewer would do the Light & Refreshing better than they do the Bigger & Sippier, given climate and whatnot. (The nerds on Ratebeer.com speak even more highly of their Imperial Stout and Barleywine, further compounding that weirdness, but neither of those were available for me to try.)
The bigger-still body does the best at hiding the niggling metallic note, though you can still feel it in there without trying very hard. The dark, mahogany-esque colour rightly hints at the sticky maltiness that is present in the nose and in your face. Both this, and the previous Pale Ale, are strange, in the fullness-of-body department; they taste ‘bigger’ than the Golden Ale, sure, but still manage to have some sips, or even some parts of individual sips, feel aggravatingly ’empty’.
The three beers are certainly acres better than the usual bog-standard Mexican lager. There is an unavoidable element of damning with faint praise inherent in that summary, but there’s no real reason to avoid it; these are better than their peers, but still not great.
Verbatim: Cucapa ‘Obscura’ Brown Ale 18/9/10 4.8% 355ml also $4 from Reg. Very appealing mahogany-brown, despite the ‘Cerveza Negra’ on the label. Nose is sticky malthness, and there’s a decent amount on the palate, despite the now-familiar thinness and metal. (Though this hides that metal the best so far.) Quite probably the pick of the bunch, but they still don’t manage to totally rehabilitate Mexican beer in my mind — despite all being acres better than others. (Faint Praise Problem.)
So, goatsucker. Really. That’s what “Chupacabras” literally means. Chupar is “to suck”, and cabra is “goat”. Strange name for a beer, you might think.
Wait; it gets stranger. The Chupacabra is a piece of South American cryptozoology, like an Australian Bunyip, or a North American Bigfoot. But unlike those, this one doesn’t have the ‘virtue’ of being old-timey nonsense; these are a pretty recent popular delusion — quite-possibly wholly derived from the awesomely-awful movie Species, which the original ‘eyewitness’ apparently thought depicted real events taking place in Peurto Rico.
But anyway, the beer. I write about beer, right? Well, first things first, it doesn’t suck (at least, not goats). It’s billed as American Pale Ale, but isn’t a typical one, if it’s one at all. The colour tends to the reddish end, there’s not a whole lot of aroma going on, and the fruity flavours are in the sweeter modes than the usual bitter-citrussy ones. Style aside, though, those factors combine into something not inherently bad and the bigger body does bury some of the familiar Cucapá metal flavour.
Verbatim: Cucapa ‘Chupacabras’ APA 18/9/10 5.8% 355ml $4 from Reg. Very reddish ruddy amber. Attractive, but atypical for style, I’d have thought. Not massively aromatic, and with quite a nice big rounded sweet fruity middle bit. Apricotty, perhaps. Very much like something I’ve had, but I’m struggling to recall. Amelia says there’s a not-in-a-bad-way burnt grass aspect; as if she were a really classy cow. How strange. Hints of the metal, but more buried.
Mexican beer does get a bad rap in nerdy circles. But you always have to be skeptical of bad reputations where far-flung places are concerned; it’s usually not the Good Stuff that gets famous elsewhere, first. Think Fosters, think Budweiser — think Steinlager, if it comes to that. And hey, beer’s a pretty accessibly-priced sort of a thing, so I figured I’d take a punt on three beers from the Cervecería Cucapá that showed up randomly at Regional, the dangerously-awesome bottle store down the road from my house.
Not the classically-pale sort of ‘golden’ that someone like me might expect, this does have a pretty nice orangey-ambery hue to it, and is a decently tasty smooth malty sort of a beer. So already it’s a step or seven up from the Usual Mexican Thing You Might Resort To Sticking Fruit In The Neck Of. But there’s a nasty metallic bite to it that does spoil things somewhat.
Verbatim: Cucapa ‘Clasica’ Golden Ale 17/9/10 355ml $4 from Reg. 4.5% Not that ‘gold’; quite a bit of orange / amber in there. Certainly not terrible, which is a welcome change from most Mexican beer available round here. Yeastie Sam is right on Ratebeer; it’s a bit thin + metallic in the body, but the malt flavour is decent. Just needs to lose the metal