Leon Negra 1
Ceviche and Cancún’s Top Beers
Everybody goes to Cancún in the Mexican Caribbean to party; nightclubs and bars are the stuff of legend and make the traditional resort and party town of Acapulco seem tame and a little bit fuddy-duddy in comparison. But one thing that takes a lot of visitors by surprise is the fact that this resort on the Yucatán peninsula offers one of the most delicious dishes in the world: ceviche. And not only is the ceviche possibly the best you can find in Mexico, it’s possibly the best you’ll find in all of Latin America.
Ceviche, when it’s made in its most basic yet delicious form, is raw seafood and fish marinated in lime, chopped tomatoes, onion, coriander, green chillies and salt. It is usually eaten with plain saltine crackers or fresh, home-made tortilla chips. Due to health concerns though, it’s very hard to find places that use raw fish and seafood; most bars, restaurants and snack shops and stalls will use cooked shrimp and prawns for their ceviche.
This dish is absolutely fantastic on the beach, it’s great as a snack, and it’s great in the fanciest of restaurants, and the only thing that can make this dish even better is eating it with one of the fabulous beers that are available in Cancún. Here’s a look at the top beers a visitor must try either straight or with a plate full of ceviche to accompany it.
The best part about travelling is sampling locally produced beer; and these two beers crafted in the Yucatan certainly do not disappoint. The two most popular beers among locals and savvy travellers are Leon Negra and Montejo Clara.
This amber lager pours with a beautiful reddish-orange tinged light brown, and is has such a brilliant clarity that it almost sparkles. With just the right amount of carbonation, a lovely creamy head forms which lasts until the drink is almost totally consumed. Flavor and aroma-wise, it smells lightly of sweet toffee, sweet bread, and sweet malt. There really isn’t a hop aroma, which makes the beer smell clean and inviting. Tasting like a superior quality English brown ale, it is well balanced, lively, yet light. Leon Negra also has a nice, barely-there taste of caramel and is ever so slightly on the sweeter side of beers. This is a must-have beer for all visitors to Cancún.
While Leon Negra has been brewed in the Yucatan since the 1900, Montejo Clara is something of a Johnny-come-lately type of beer; although it doesn’t have the long history Leon Negra has, it’s become a traditional beer to order. This pilsner beer will be good for those who aren’t too keen on darker beers, and is also simply amazing with ceviche.
When it comes to appearance, Montejo Clara fans state it is “a golden elixir”, pale yellow in color but still rich-looking. Vigorous carbonation adds to the refreshment factor, and a peppery hop aroma is reminiscent of Dutch pilsners such as Grolsch. It’s floral scent has none of the faint smell of sulphur that some mass-produced beers may have and makes the beer incredibly enticing, especially during hot beach weather. As far as flavor is concerned, it is light, refreshing, but has depth of character that is on the same level as the most superior quality European pilsners.
While in some countries national, mass-produced beers can be rather bland, unexciting, uninspired and insipid, Mexico bucks the trend and consistently produces good beer on a grand scale. While Sol and Corona are very good beers that are always enjoyable to drink, here are some internationally lesser-known beers that Cancún locals emphatically state are simply better.
A delightful darker amber beer that is not really known outside of Mexico but is considered to be, by far, the nation’s finest. It has a strong scent of caramel with a hint of chocolate, and has a bitter medium flavor that also tastes of smoky caramel. However, it’s surprisingly dry and has a light to medium body, which makes it perhaps nicer to drink at night-time in Cancún rather than during the day on the beach.
This is a special amber beer that is only released once a year close to the Christmas holidays; if you’re in Cancún this winter, definitely give this one a try.
Dos Equis XX Special Lager
Along with Sol and Corona, Dos Equis XX Special Lager is perhaps THE beer to be drinking during the daytime on Cancún’s famed crystal-clear water beaches. As with all lager beers from Mexico, a slice of lime pushed into the bottle makes this beer go from regular to great.
And finally…Negra Modelo
This Munich dunkel lager was first brewed in Mexico back in 1926 by Austrian immigrants; the dark lager manages to be totally refreshing and is one of the very few dark beers that can be comfortably consumed on a hot beach and not feel overwhelmingly stuffing. Furthermore, because the beer is so delicately flavored, it is the ideal beer to have with an extra spicy portion of ceviche; the delicate taste will balance out and go well with the strong heat factor of jalapeño, Serrano, or other strong green chillies.
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