Micheladas Get Crafty: The Hangover Cure Evolves in San Antonio's Food Scene

Summer was not over yet, despite The Hoppy Monk’s Michelada Fest also serving as an End of Summer Bash in mid-August, but the oppressive 100 degree heat could not stop hundreds from seeing how the craft-focused Monk would pair unconventional brews in a michelada. From what we could tell, the nearly standing-room-only crowd seemed determined to see this through, too.

Using a house-made michelada mix filled with fresh lime juice, Knudson’s Organic Veggie Mix, roasted tomatoes, roasted serrano peppers and a few secret ingredients, The Hoppy Monk served each drink in a tulip glass and a roasted pepper salt rim, paired boldly with Freetail’s Cerveza, Guadalupe’s Scotch Ale, Dorcol’s HighWheel Betty, Ranger Creek’s SA Lager, Real Ale’s Gose and Saint Arnold’s Fancy Lawnmower.

“We always strive to support locally whenever possible,” Kevin Richuber, The Hoppy Monk’s “Hospitality Czar,” told us. “We have great relationships with these breweries, among many others, but we also wanted to introduce folks to other possibilities when it comes to micheladas. Another reason we used these specific brews is due to brewery recommendations. It was important for us to communicate with our friends at these breweries to ensure they were on board with the event. After all, it’s all about the beer!”
Freetail’s Cerveza, a flirty blonde, paired well with the michelada mix, and struck a good balance between the mix and the ale’s light and refreshing taste. A surprisingly savory, acidic flavor made this any easy-going pair. But the standout pairings consisted of Real Ale’s Gose (4.4 percent ABV) and Guadalupe’s Scotch Ale. The gose (a slightly sour wheat beer with fresh lime juice that’s added after fermentation) worked really well with the michelada mix’s tartness: the tart, bready and somewhat salty flavor of gose was phenomenal in a michelada, combining two summer favorites flawlessly.

On paper, Guadalupe’s Scotch Ale should not have worked here but preconceived notions melted away like so much else in the Texas heat. The smooth, oatmeal taste of the Scotch Ale (which had the highest alcohol level at 8.17 percent) was more prominent than expected, and the malty flavor seemed to dominate the michelada mix more than any other beer-and-michelada tag team available — in all the right ways.

Again, michelada lovers turned out for two more events in the dead heat of summer: The Block’s Michelada Mayhem, which tasked food trucks with creating signature mixes, and Michelada Madness at Freetail Brewing Co.’s tasting room with micheladas from El Luchador, The Squeezebox, La Botánica, Franky Diablos, Jandro’s Garden Patio, Bexar Pub, The Cove, Fresca and Kung Fu Kitchen Patio Bar.
click to enlarge Southerleigh - Amanda Spencer
Amanda Spencer

San Antonians love variety, whether it’s funky new mixes, proprietary secret recipes or craft beer making their salty, hangover cure even better.
And it makes sense for craft-friendly bars to carry a michelada recipe of their own. The Friendly Spot’s 400-plus brews make it easy to sample different iterations of owner Steve Newman’s michelada recipe. At The Point, where Denise Aguirre and partner Noel Cisneros feature 12 beers on tap and more than 100 in cans and bottles, the restaurateurs hold their secret mix of ingredients very close to their chests.

“Mixes are lazy,” Aguirre said. Though she won’t share exactly what goes into their micheladas, she clued us in on eight ingredients that make a cameo with a base of Tabasco, V8 and ice. The Point lets beer drinkers turn any beer into a michelada for $2, but if you’re too hungover to think, Aguirre also carries three signature beer cocktails. The Santolada takes Saint Arnold’s Santo, a black kölsch; Pedernales Brewing Co.’s Lobo Lager creates a Lobolada; and Ranger Creek’s San Antonio Lager released earlier this year turns into the Michelager.
“The Santolada is dark and roasty,” Aguirre said. “We’ll get asked for Bud Light or Dos Equis or Corona, but we try to steer them into craft. People will order the Santo or the Ranger Creek versions because they like that they’re drinking San Antonio beers.”

At Southerleigh Fine Food & Brewery, the micheladas are the star of brunch, and for good reason. With a mix created by chef Jeff Balfour that combines tomatoes, horseradish, celery, hot sauce, Maggi, salt, pepper and lime juice, the micheladas are a perfect pair with their Gold Export Lager, or goses like That Heirloom Over There, a tart and briny tomato gose that pairs well the tomato-filled mix.

San Anto bartenders are getting creative when it comes to delivering this hangover cure to tables and dehydrated brunch-goers. Sometimes tomato mixes are forgone altogether.
click to enlarge Sanchos - Jessica Elizarraras
Jessica Elizarraras

Head to Sanchos where though they carry a traditional michelada; a potent pour comes via their simple and delicious Sancholada, a mix of Modelo Especial with silver Jimador tequila, lime, agave syrup and a dash of locally made Haitian Heat hot sauce.

“It’s great for people who are interested in a michelada without all that tomato,” said bar manager Alex Davis.

Chisme, this year’s Best Of San Antonio winner (elected by critic and readers alike) for michelada, is proof that michis might not need tomatoes to be life affirming. With Whitney Kiser at the helm, Chisme’s bar has started celebrating Michi Mondays. For $9, guests can order three Collins glasses filled with three distinct micheladas using Modelo Especial. There’s the spiced pineapple with roasted pineapple and Ancho Reyes Verde (a poblano chile spin on the pepper-driven liqueur); a blackberry hibiscus where Kiser creates a tea-infused syrup to add sweetness; and a smaller version of the award-winning formula.

“We wanted to mix it up and do a play on the usual michelada,” Kiser said, “while offering something they won’t find anywhere else.”

So whether it’s a recipe held under lock and key, a craft beer that blends seamlessly with tart tomato like Southerleigh’s THOT or Guadalupe’s boozy Scotch Ale, or a different spin on that tomato blend, micheladas are only getting more adventurous — and so should you.


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