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Micheladas Go Craft [Beer Cocktails]

Author // Jeff Wharton

I recently came across this article in GQ about an NYC restaurant’s Asian-influenced take on the Michelada, the classic Mexican salt-rimmed beer-based drink to beat the heat. It got me thinking and, after spending a week in Mexico where I had quite a few of the classic Micheladas, it hit me...this could be improved upon with some craft beer! If you’re looking for something to cool you off as the summer wanes (or just something to remind you of those warmer months once the weather cools down, especially here in New England) then this is the craft beer cocktail for you! I’ve taken the liberty of crafting up the original, and then developed a few of my own interpretations including one specifically meant for cooler autumn evenings.

Craft Beer Micheladas Cover

Classic Craft Beer Michelada featuring Brooklyn Brewery Brooklyn Lager or New Belgium Shift Pale Lager

Salt on the rim
Juice of ¼ - ½ of a lime
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
A few dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce (Tabasco Sauce will work as well)
Lime garnish
3-4 ice cubes
1 Brooklyn Lager or Shift Pale Lager

Brooklyn Lager and New Belgium Shift Pale Lager Michelada

Now THAT’S bringing me back to my vacation in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico! Just, this time, the beer is a good bit better. The lager is crisp, cool and refreshing. By using a craft lager, such as New Belgium’s Shift Pale Lager or Brooklyn Brewery’s Brooklyn Lager, the whole concoction is just so much better. It provides the rest of the flavors a much stronger structure to stand on rather than the pale, macro lagers of Mexico that are just a liquid conveyance. The slight sweetness of the beer works with the Worcestershire Sauce while the lime really gives it that refreshing touch. The Tabasco Sauce? Well it’s there to make you sweat a little bit and really turn all your taste buds up. Trust me, this is the way micheladas were meant to be made!

Try it with your own local craft pale lager!

Thai Influenced Michelada featuring Baxter Summer Celsius Ale

Salt on the rim
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
A few dashes of Sriracha Hot Sauce
2 slices of hot pepper
Lime garnish
1 slice of hot pepper for garnish
3-4 ice cubes
1 Baxter Celsius Summer Ale

Baxter Celsius Ale Michelada

Wooooooooooowee is that hot! The Sriracha Sauce and hot pepper really get this drink going! Even with the Sriracha and the Worcestershire Sauce, though, the citrus from this delicious summer ale’s lemon peel, lime peel, kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass really comes through, which is why there isn’t any lime juice needed. While the original version of the Michelada is from Mexico, with the lemongrass and kaffir lime, this one is much more Thai influenced. So, on a hot, sweltering day pour yourself one of these, enjoy some cold Thai leftovers and sweat your way through the heat with a deliciously chilled and iced craft beer drink.

A Witty Michelada featuring Boulevard Brewing Unfiltered Wheat Beer or Avery Brewing White Rascal Wit Beer

Salt on the rim
Juice of ¼ - ½ of a lime
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
A few dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce (Tabasco Sauce will work as well)
Lime garnish
3-4 ice cubes
1 Boulevard Wheat Beer or Avery White Rascal

Boulevard Wheat Ale and Avery White Rascal Wit Michelada

Wheat beers are no strangers to fruit garnishes, but it may never have been any more appropriate than in this case! As you tip these back you get quite significantly different experiences. With the Boulevard Wheat, a more restrained version of the style, there’s a bit of citrus and the clean, crisp dryness we always expect from a wheat beer. The Worcestershire Sauce really comes through to fill up the entire flavor experience. Conversely, with the Avery White Rascal, a more complex Belgian-style wit beer, the yeasty esters really serve to bring forward the citrus more than in other versions and, as a result, the savory Worcestershire is put in the background. The dry, minerally wheat is still there, further enhancing the lime juice. The Tabasco Sauce gives both a really great, tangy flavor with the heat at a nice, balanced level that just kind of sticks around for a while. When you combine how refreshing this drink is with the heat, you better make sure you have a couple of these wheat beers lying around!

Try it with your own local wheat beer!

Cold Weather Michelada featuring Night Shift Brewing Viva Habenera Rye Habanero Ale

Salt on the rim
Juice of ¼ - ½ of a lime
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
Lime garnish
1/2 of a 750 ml bottle of Night Shift Viva Haberera

Night Shift Viva Habenera Michelada

OK, I’ll admit I like this drink to much to relegate it to warm weather only. That said, I think I need to change it up if I’m going to drink it during cold Northeast nights. So I’m taking out the ice and making a cocktail to sip on a bit more slowly. With the heat already a part of this one thanks to the guys over at Night Shift Brewing (and their addition of habanero peppers), I’m choosing to skip the hot sauce addition here, which really takes the heat down a notch. From the beginning you can smell the citrus in this combo much more than you can taste it, but a quick lick of the salt really brings it out! The almost-umami flavors of the Worcestershire Sauce go really well with the rye base of this beer giving you a smooth, malty and savory flavor that’s extremely different from the bright, clean and crisp flavors that the original version of this drink has. This is exactly why I chose not to put this one over ice...it’s not for a hot day like other Micheladas are. This one is to warm you up on a cold day.

Dark Michelada featuring Narragansett Porter

Salt on the rim
Juice of ¼ - ½ of a lime
A few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce
A few dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce (Tabasco Sauce will work as well)
Lime garnish
3-4 ice cubes
1 Narragansett Porter

Narragansett Porter Michelada

And now for something COMPLETELY different! Dark beer in a Michelada? You may find yourself saying, “what?!” but bare with me here. The Worcestershire and dark malts in the Gansett Porter are natural friends, the savory sauce mixing so well with the smooth, chocolate character of the beer. And the heat? Well you’ve had mole sauce, right? This is basically the same thing. Chocolatey, rich, almost smoky and hot. The lime is probably where you’ll doubt me but, really, the citrus just brightens this whole deal right up. Honestly, I was a little doubtful of this myself, but this is a great way to enjoy a dark beer. Oh and, by the way, that salt on the rim? It does amazing things for the cocoa flavors...just like Taza Chocolated Salted Almond Mexicano chocolate. Yum!

Try it with your own local porter or stout! I bet the Stone Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers would work great.

What are your thoughts on the Michelada? Do you have any combinations that you think would work? Let us know in the comments below!