“We’ve all experienced the lime and salt additions to a light lager, but how about a michelada? It’s traditionally a mix of beer, hot sauce, lime and salt that makes for a deliciously interesting thirst quencher. Finding your preferred balance of flavors along with your favorite base beer is part of the fun!”
I’d like to start by saying that you can, and should, drink your beer however you enjoy it. People have been adding to and mixing in their beers for as long as the liquid has been brewed. The michelada is one such “mix” where hot sauce, lime and salt are added for a spicy glass of refreshment.
There is no single origin story for the michelada, but most involve a man named Michel and his favorite cantina in San Luis Potosi. Some say the original mix was just the beer with lime and salt added. We’ve all had something along these lines and understand the appeal.
So why hot sauce? Again, there isn’t a story that gives a definitive explanation. There are arguments that spice makes you sweat and sweat helps in cooling during hot weather. And there’s also the thinking that spice triggers pain sensors and the release of endorphins.
Where’s the tomato? The classic michelada was just the beer, hot sauce, lime and salt. I couldn’t find any mention of where the addition of tomato juice or mixes started being added. There are stories that the bloody mary started out with a beer base, or a beer on the side. And there is a drink called a “red beer” which is a beer and tomato juice or bloody mary mix. Either way, for the sake of this piece, I will stick to the classic recipe.
No matter when, how or why the drink came to be, it is. Now all we need to do is enjoy it.
2oz Lime Juice
2 teaspoons Hot Sauce
Pinch of salt
Add lime juice, hot sauce and salt to a glass. Stir/swirl until salt dissolves. Add beer. (If you’d like you can add ice, or rim your glass with salt or Tajin, but again I just stuck to the basics this go around)
Real Ale Fireman’s Light
This beer is the definition of finesse. It’s the subtlest of my three recommendations and if you’re pairing this, I would keep it light. Duvel can stand up to the fat of butter and cream sauces, and will absorb citrus flavors into its own, so try a simple baked white fish with olive oil and lemon.
Indio is my favorite Mexican dark lager, because it’s richer and more flavorful than others. The malt sweetness helps to temper the heat and the darker flavors play well with the chile/pepper in the hot sauce. I liked this, but it’s not the prettiest looking mix.
Southern Star Subatomico
This was by far my favorite. Where I was missing the blending of flavors in the light/pale lager version, here Subatomico stood up to the additions and incorporated them into the whole. The hot sauce added a familiar accent to the citrus and tropical fruit character of the hops, like Tajin (chile salt) and pieces of tropical fruit. Perfect for Sunday brunch in place of a bloody mary or mimosa!
Martin House Salty Lady
This mixture just makes sense, with the acidity and some salinity already in the beer, but it required some retooling of the recipe. A little less lime and salt got things right, but again the other flavors of the beer were sort of lost. I’m curious how a fruited (peach/apricot) sour might play with the hot sauce, since I loved that interaction in the IPA version.