And to all a good night: Noche Buena beer is Mexico’s Christmas favorite – Mexico News Daily
Unlike the vast majority of commercial Mexican beers, Noche Buena is a dark bock, a class of beers that have their origins in Germany. They are dense and calorie-rich, dating back to the 14th or 15th century. As the story goes, German monks developed it to get through the winter and fasting periods, especially Lent.
This particular bock has a reddish-brown color with a thick head that holds up well, leaving a lattice on the glass as you drink it. The aroma is agreeable with notes of chocolate, caramel and red fruits. A sip will reveal flavor notes that also include prunes, toasted malts and herbal hops.
In Mexico, even beer lover Homer Simpson drinks Noche Buenas at Christmas. Twitter
It finishes with a dry aftertaste. It is a low-hop beer, so it isn’t particularly bitter. In fact, I find it a bit sweet for my taste, but then I tend to go for very dry and hoppy beers like India pale ale.
Noche Buena is not considered anywhere near the same quality as European-produced bocks, but those who prefer it say they like it because it is neither too heavy nor too spicy. The alcohol level is 5.9% by volume.
Dark bocks can be produced year-round, but this particular beer is strongly associated with winter, available only between October and February. One reason is that this beer needs colder temperatures to brew and mature well. The second is that dark beers in general are associated with winter in Germany. But perhaps most important is the beer’s history in Mexico.
It costs a bit more than most Mexican beers, but Noche Buena is not a beer simply to drink as alcohol. It is to drink with close family and friends as you celebrate Christmas and New Year’s. Whether or not you get drunk is secondary at best.
Leigh Thelmadatter arrived in Mexico 18 years ago and fell in love with the land and the culture in particular its handcrafts and art. She is the author of Mexican Cartonería: Paper, Paste and Fiesta (Schiffer 2019). Her culture column appears regularly on Mexico News Daily.