Tomorrow marks an auspicious occasion in history. Can you guess why May 5th is important? Hint: it’s probably the single-most-significant thing to ever happen in the long history of there being a fifth day in the fifth month.
Cinco de Mayo? Good guess, but not quite. All that happened on that occasion was a couple-thousand outnumbered citizens with no military training held off 6000 French troops under orders from Bonaparte’s nephew – Napoleon III – bolstering national morale and showing the world that Mexico was ready to defend its sovereignty against conqueror nations.
Well, okay, that’s pretty impressive and an absolute pinnacle of Mexican pride.
No, I was talking about it being six years since I began this beer column you’re reading! And as a reward, my boss, Joe Abston, is opening up a Mexican taqueria & tequileria just for me.
I’m kidding, of course. The restaurant’s inspiration came from Joe sampling the simple, flavorful and vibrant food of Mexico City on a recent vacation. His chef’s hunger and passion took over to fill a void and he immediately began to sculpt Taco Mez, downtown Pensacola’s first Mexican kitchen with a true tequila bar.
Drawing from Mexico’s street food, Luchadore culture, Day of the Dead imagery and a big love of all things tequila – seriously, a 100+ bottle selection of tequila and mezcal! – , Taco Mez as an upscale Latino cuisine destination is shaping up to be the next big thing in town.
Oh, another anniversary just passed. I almost forgot, but it’s been 500 years and 11 days since Bavaria passed the now-famous Reinheitsgebot, better known as the German Beer Purity law.
Now, I love me some German beer, Mexican food and history. Hankering for a brew that ties all of the concepts together – the anniversaries, the Latino vibe, food-friendly beverages – finds us Santo by Saint Arnold Brewing. He’s a bit of a maverick, Santo is.
The Reinheitsgebot sort of led to Germany being dominated by Lager. Santo is, technically, a Kölsch style whose Ale origins in Cologne survived the “Lager-ization” of the country. Further thumbing its nose at tradition, Santo is a Black Kölsch. The barley was malted prior to roasting – instead of using un-malted grain – providing more unrefined starch to be caramelized for extra flavor.
Boasting a sugar skull and the name of one of Mexico’s most famous wrestlers, Santo is cola-brown with a head that lasts. Its scents range from caramel cream to lemon zest and toffee. More caramel shows up on the palate with honeyed biscuit, wheat bread crust and a hint of milk chocolate while faint, leafy hops give a finish of citrus before the sweet malt returns.
I can’t wait to try this beer with some true tacos. Until then, I’m going to sit here at Hopjacks and celebrate my 6th on the 5th with a Santo. Open soon, Taco Mez, and venture forth towards your first anniversary! Happy Cinco de Mayo, y’all!