Beer Review 0051: Bohemia

Bohemia is produced by Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma Brewery, which is a subsidiary of the giant Heineken International, located in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico. Operations began in 1890 and the brewery now operates six locations in Mexico, with a new building slated to open in Chihuaha in 2012.

While produced in Mexico, Bohemia actually takes its name from the Czech region. Launched at the turn of the twentieth century, this is considered Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma’s finest beer, and is the most awarded Mexican beer. The style employed here is a pale German Pilsner, but there is a darker version of Bohemia available, called “Bohemia Obscura.”

This is the same brewery that produces other mass-marketed Mexican beers like Sol, Tecate, and Dos Equis, made famous here in the United States by the “Most Interesting Man in the World” advertising campaign.

I have to say that I was persuaded to try this beer after viewing an ad on Rick Bayless’ excellent PBS show One Plate At A Time.

This beer poured like most mass produced Mexican drinks, which is to say with a very thin (almost no) head; a light, pale, straw looking liquid that was practically sparkling with tons of bubble activity and no lacing. There’s nothing impressive here, but the aromatics are quite good, thankfully.

There’s great unexpected balance to be found, with a very pungent citrus and perfume hop note, followed by a rich grain and caramel on the malt end. The yeast is a bit leafy, and in the very background there’s a nice whiff of vanilla that you just completely wouldn’t associate with a beer of this type. A nice surprise!

However, the surprises mostly end there. On the palate, you get a thin and gritty-textured drink that has a very prominent tea-like character to it, with almost none of the hops you could very plainly sniff. What you do get are the malts, which come through in an almost bitter caramel, and plenty of grainy bread notes. The finish is very short but offers a crisp and clean feel.

When it comes to mass produced Mexican beers, this is honestly about as good as it gets. Yes, I scored this beer fairly low — but it does pair well with food, any type of food, really, but especially spicy Mexican fare. This has all the qualities of a good food beer; easy and refreshing drinkability, but if you’re looking for something to drink alone that offers some complexity, you might want to check something else out.

Bohemia, 71 points. Price: $1.49 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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