Finally, Texas Has Its Own Taco Beer

Where my koozie at?
Where my koozie at? Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

The Austin-based microbrewery Independence Brewing Co. and the authors of Tacos of Texas have created a very good thing: Texas's very first taco beer.

The Revolución Saison Ale is crisp, citrusy, gently spiced and meant for pairing solely with tacos. Okay, it was also created to counter the onslaught of mass-marketed beers such as Bud Light Lime and other so-called "margaritas in a can."

"That's the antithesis of what we're after," Independence co-founder Amy Cartwright told the Houston Press over the phone this week. She's hoping to diversify (or revolutionize, rather) the modern Mexican-American beer market, which consists in large part of the cheesy aforementioned brews and traditional Mexican lagers (think Negra Modelo and Dos Equis), which are actually Vienna-style beers dating back to the number of Germans and Austrians who settled Mexico in the 19th century and developed much of the country's brewing traditions. Does that necessarily mean they're perfect for pairing with tacos? Nope.

The saison, however, is a beer so refreshing it's often associated with summertime and easy drinking, but not really with tacos. But that might be about to change. "I was at this bar The Hoppy Monk in El Paso and the owner showed me a sign he had that said 'Street Tacos and Saison,'" Mando Rayo, taco expert and co-writer of Tacos of Texas, told the Press. "People are already thinking about that stuff. Being from Texas, being Latino and American, I don't want to just drink Bud Light with lime."

It was during a taco pop-up at Independence Brewing that Rayo and Cartwright began toying with the idea for the perfect taco beer. They decided upon the saison. It took four months to develop the final product.

"I'd say only now people are becoming aware of diversifying their beer choices," Cartwright adds, noting that saisons, more often associated with Belgian farmhouse ales, didn't really gain popularity in the craft beer industry until the past few years. "It's something a little newer to the Mexican-American market."

The Houston Press got a taste, pairing it with some Tacos A Go Go that included street-style barbacoa, al pastor and what seemed like the perfect taco pairing among the three — carne guisada. The acid and citrus in the beer really do cut through the Mexican seasoning and enhance the richness and spices in the juicy beef. It's great for a lazy weekend.

click to enlarge
Photo by Gwendolyn Knapp

Locally you can find Revolución at H-E-B. Cartwright, Rayo and crew will also usher in the official Houston launch by end of summer with a taco and beer pop-up event, likely taking place in the Heights.

If you can't wait that long, Rayo suggests seeking out the Boombox Taco truck, which turns out a slow-cooked barbacoa-style beef rib taco that he attests "melts in your mouth. It's so good." You can probably trust his better judgment. The guy already has 1,000-plus signatures on a petition aimed at getting the state government to change our official state food (currently chili) to the taco.

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Gwendolyn Knapp is the food editor at the Houston Press. A sixth-generation Floridian, she is still torn as to whether she likes smoked fish dip or queso better.