Although Micheladas are not as popular as their vodka-based cousin, the Bloody Mary, the low-ABV brunch sipper is far more refreshing and gulpable, especially in hot weather. But, if you’ve ever mixed yourself a Michelada, you probably noticed that not all beer works in the cocktail. Unless you’re a masochist, you would never (like never, ever, ever) use an IPA or a stout as the base of a Michelada. Some beers just don’t go with tomato or hot sauce. To find out what beer works best in the classic cocktail, we tasted our way through the beer section of our local market to find the best brews.
This is the iconic Michelada beer and the most commonly used as a base in restaurants and bars. Light, crisp and subtly malty, Tecate is the perfect canvas on which to build the cocktail. We recommend not getting to crazy with the ingredients when building this Michelada, and sticking to the classic formula of Maggi, a touch of tomato, hot sauce and freshly squeezed lime.
Another classic Mexican brew to use in a Michelada, Modelo Especial creates one of the lightest, most refreshing takes on the cocktail. On its own, Modelo Especial is almost like beer flavored seltzer, and with the addition of fresh lime and hot sauce, it explodes with flavor. This beer is the perfect vessel for the ingredients in a Michelada because it allows them to shine through completely and rise above the flavor of the beer.
Produced by Full Sail Brewing Co., this American lager is designed to taste like the best Mexican beers. Extremely drinkable, especially on a hot summer’s day, Sesión Cerveza is equally as delectable in a Michelada. Bright, crisp and citrusy, with a hint of a hoppy bite, this beer works wonders with spicier, fruitier habanero hot sauces and squeezes of fresh lime and orange juices. If you really want to impress whoever you’re making your Michelada for, build the drink straight in the bottle (you’ll have to take a couple sips first), which has an adorable vintage look.
Another classic Mexican beer, Pacífico is a pilsner from Mazatlán, a city on the West Coast known for its beaches and surfing. Thirst quenching and refreshing, this beer becomes even better with a simple squeeze of fresh lime juice. When making a Michelada with Pacífico, it’s best to skip the tomato juice, and only add lime, Valentina hot sauce (Cholula works as well) and a dash of Maggi seasoning or fish sauce.
One of the more underrated Mexican pilsners, Bohemia Clásica is the darkest and heaviest beer on this list. Malty and subtly sweet, it makes a richer Michelada that has an almost sherry-esque nuttiness and sourness to it. This is a Michelada that we like to serve alongside a copita of mezcal and a rim of sal de gusano for garnish. Pair with barbacoa or adobo sauce smothered chicken and freshly made tortillas.
Brewed in San Francisco, this craft beer is brewed in the style of a Mexican pilsner. Almost like a heavier, more complex Pacífico, 21st Amendment’s El Sully is excellent as the base of a Michelada. Crisp and mildly hoppy, the beer pairs best with a brighter, fresher, jalapeño-based hot sauce like Yucateco, pureed green tomato juice and a garnish of cilantro for aromatics.