Tuesday, December 3, 2013

2013 Advent Beer 3: Cucapá Obscura

Today's beer marks a couple of firsts for me, beginning with the style: American Brown Ale. It is also the first beer in the calendar from Mexico. Corona notwithstanding, I don't know for certain if I have had a Mexican beer before, but I don't believe so, and certainly not any sort of craft cerveza.

Cerveza Cucapá takes their name from one of the native tribes of Baja California, where the brewery is situated, and who are sometimes referred to as Cocopa Indians. The website says their "love for water and nature took them to live in the delta of the Colorado River in the desert of Mexicali" which is a pretty cool bit of backstory.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I should mention that immediately prior to drinking the Obscura, I had just come in from shovelling an estimated 700 lbs of snow and was completely parched. It took more control than I care to admit (and more control than I was aware I even had) not to drain the glass in one go, let alone photograph the bottle. These are obviously sub-optimal conditions for a considered review, so perhaps we should consider this effort a test under field conditions instead.

The beer itself is probably my favourite of the three so far; it pours a deep, chestnut brown with a moderate head which doesn't linger too long. It is a medium bodied beer with hints of nutty sweetness, maybe born sugar, but it has an earthy finish that holds perhaps a hint of smoke that balances things out really nicely. Very little bitterness or tartness, and at 4.8%, Obscura would make a great session beer. Highly recommended, and I know I have seen other Cucapá beers at Sherbrooke, so I expect to be trying some of those out in due course. I will also be keeping an eye open for other varieties of American Brown Ales!

Meanwhile in the Advent nativity scene, the innkeeper has shown up, clutching his little jacket against the cold, holding up his lantern to push back the encroaching darkness, and, one would like to think, hoping to be forgiven for making that nice couple from Nazareth pay for the privilege of sleeping in his stable.

UPDATE: My sister-in-law has graciously translated the Spanish text shown above:

"Obscura = dark
[Named "Dark" in] Dignified homage to the colour of our people. Cucapá Obscura is a robust beer with medium body. Its flavour is a mix of four malts of the highest quality, a symbol of the pioneering peoples of Baja California: Kumiai, Pai-Pai, Kiliwa and Cucupah. Shamans like those illustrated on the label were drawn by the Cucupah in caves in Baja California hundreds of years ago."

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