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Thirst-quenching craft Mexican lager is alive and well in O-town.

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click to enlarge MIKE RIEDEL
  • Mike Riedel

On a recent trip to Ogden, I found that the Mexican lager is the supreme adult thirst-quencher. If you've been away from this south-of-the-border classic, you're probably missing out on one of the most flavorful ways to beat the heat.

Roosters Brewing Co. El Doce: It's named for the El Doce at Pow Mow (Powder Mountain), an intense 12-hour mountain bike race that covers 13.3 miles of mountainous trails and takes place Saturday, July 20, at Powder Mountain resort. This beer awaits thirsty finishers and onlookers throughout the day. From a 12-ounce can, this beer pours a crystal-clear medium golden-yellow color, with a solid finger of dense white head with great retention. It eventually falls and reduces to a thin lingering cap. Aromas and a taste of crackers, corn, white bread and light herbal and grassy earthiness emerge. The nose is bigger than expected, due to the pale malt and earthy hop notes; fruity and yeasty notes come to the forefront as it warms, but it's not overwhelming.

There is some implied corn adjunct flavor present, but that might just be a trick of the brewing process. The hops are all classic Euro lager, adding familiar and quenching grass and herbal bitters. You might find lingering notes of crackers, corn, white bread and that grassy quality on the finish, with zero cloying flavors from the bready grain bill. Medium carbonation and light body produce a very smooth mouthfeel, with zero warming alcohol, as you'd expect of a 4.0% beer.

Overall: This is a great representation of the style, an all-around solid summer beer that combines the clean flavors you expect from a Mexican-style lager with the rounder flavors that you'd find from a craft brewery. An enjoyable offering from Roosters.

Talisman Brewing Co. Mexican Lager: Our second take on the Mexican lager comes from Ogden as well. Talisman's version pours out a nice golden straw color with a small white head. I suspect the bartender wanted to give me the best bang for my buck by filling my glass all the way to the top. Just to be clear: I always approve of bartenders giving me a to-the-glass's-rim job. Anyway, the smell is rich with sweetness, lots of sugary and toasted grains and a hint of honey malts. Hops are really faint in the aroma, but you can tell they're there. So far, this brew has that textbook look and smell that will draw fans of this style toward their pint glasses.

On a warm Saturday afternoon, my first swig filled my cheeks. Normally, I'm not a guzzler when taking notes, but this one just sang to me. It starts bold with smooth cracker flavors, which is just what you'd expect from the style. Toasted bread and implied corn sweetness round out the top of the initial swig. Hints of bitter grass and field flowers begin to light up the sides of the tongue as the golden brew washes down the throat. The finish is medium-dry with some lingering sweetness from the malt bill, and the body is light without being thin and watery.

Overall: I would definitely look this brew up again given the opportunity. This isn't a style I gravitate toward very often, but broad appeal and small brewery flavors seem to be bridging the gap for nerds like me who want flavor and quenchability.

Roosters' El Doce is in 12-ounce cans, which are working their way into grocery stores as we speak. Talisman's Mexican lager is only at the source: 1258 S. Gibson Ave. in Ogden. Make the trip; it's well worth it. As always, cheers!

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