Popular Mexican beer gains ground in Chicago

August 11, 2010 10:26:15 AM PDT
There's a new player in the Chicago beer scene with long history in Mexico: Victoria is a brand that's hoping to become as familiar as Corona or Dos Equis.

Shortly after the American Civil War, the Victoria brand launched its brewery in Mexico. It's been one of the most popular beers in Mexico for decades. About two months ago the company made its first foray into the states by launching a huge campaign in Chicago.

The Hungry Hound travelled to one local restaurant to see how they are using this storied beer in a classic Mexican summertime drink.

The newest kid on the block in Chicago's ever-expanding beer scene is actually an old-timer. Victoria is a brand that resonates in the Hispanic community, primarily because of its long history.

"In Mexico it's a very important beer, because it's very traditional and historic because this is the oldest beer brand in Mexico," said Cesar Martinez, Victoria beer brewmaster.

About 165 years, to be exact; much older than Corona or Dos Equis. Martinez says part of the reason ex-pats in Chicago have been clamoring for it is due to the beer's exceptional malt and its balance.

"This kind of beer is not so bitter; if you don't like the heavy beers, this is a very good option to drink," Martinez said.

And they're apparently pleased to have the beer at Mercadito in River North, 108 W. Kinzie St., where it's served ice cold, but also, in a traditional Mexican summer beer drink called a michelada.

"Michelada is a special mixed drink with beer, lemon and sauces. Some people use only lemon and salt...only lemon. It depends on the preference of the people," said Martinez.

At Mercadito, they begin with a tall, salt-rimmed glass filled with ice. Worcestershire sauce is followed by fresh lime juice; then a shot of hot sauce. The beer is poured until the glass is filled, and it's garnished with a fresh lime.

Martinez says Chicago is the first U.S. market to get Victoria, partly due to the city's cultural diversity.

"Another factor is the ties between Mexico and Chicago," he said.

You can get any kind of beer you'd like with a Michelada, although if you want to be true to the Mexican spirit, Victoria is probably the best way to go. A little salty, a little tart, a little spicy and on a hot summer day, oh so refreshing.

Victoria is currently available in about a dozen locations in and around the city.

Mercadito Restaurant
108 W Kinzie St.
312-329-9555
www.mercaditorestaurants.com

Other places to find Victoria Beer:

Chicago
Nacional 27 325 W Huron St
Zed 451 739 N Clark St
Salud 1471 N Milwaukee Ave
The Boundary 1932 W Division St
Oak Street Beachstro 1001 N Lake Shore Dr
Zapatista 1307 S Wabash Ave
Theory 9 W Hubbard St
Tiny Lounge 4352 N Leavitt St
Sweetwater 225 N Michigan Ave
Loft Six Ten 1332 N Milwaukee Ave

Suburbs
Lalo Restaurant 425 S Roselle Rd Schaumburg
Champs 955 E Golf Rd Schaumburg
Tommy Nevins Pub 1450 Sherman Ave Evanston
Front Street Restaurant 15 W Jefferson Ave Naperville
Potters Place 29 W Jefferson Ave Naperville
Prairie Moon 1502 Sherman Ave Evanston
The Grumpy Bulldog 7 Jackson Ave Naperville
Tapas Barcelona 1615 Chicago Ave Evanston


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