All photos by Kevin Gibson.
Per Information Resources Inc., the chelada beer category rose more than seven percent last year. Modelo’s Chelada Especial – a pre-packaged version of a traditional Mexican chelada – accounted for a huge chunk of that growth all by itself.
So, it makes total sense that Casa Modelo would go all in on its new product, Modelo Chelada Tamarindo Picante, which was released nationwide Feb. 27. As such, the sample sent to the media came in a huge, flip-top box, complete with a serving glass and rim spices, in addition to a 24-ounce can of the product.
I was skeptical; I occasionally make my own micheladas at home, and I know how I like them to be mixed. Why would I buy something in a can that I can make myself and know precisely what is going into it? Then again, Modelo has been making beer a lot longer than I’ve been making micheladas, so I thought, “Why not?”
And I’m glad I went ahead with the taste test. I started by adding the Halo del Santo spice mix to the rim of the thick glass. I then poured in as much of ingredients of the huge can as would fit. A bubbly head and a dull red body were my reward.
Right off the bat, it clearly looked like a traditional michelada. (Yes, Modelo is calling it a “chelada,” but anything with clamato is a michelada in my book. A traditional chelada skips the clamato.) It was tough to discern the aroma, since the chile pepper blend dominated the mouth of the glass. I took a drink, still not expecting to be impressed, and what I got was a familiar flavor profile that had a slight tomatoe-y sweetness, and a bit more of lime tartness than I’m accustomed to. But the clamato flavor was certainly present.
I typically make my micheladas with ice, as making them as cold as possible is part of what makes them so slurpable. That refreshing slurpability is possibly my favorite aspect of the traditional Mexican drink. So, I added a few ice cubes and gave the michelada a moment or two for maximum cooling.
And there it was. Suddenly, it started to come together with the refreshing splash I craved, in addition to a fair amount of smoky spice of the chipotle peppers to go with the tartness and sweetness. I must admit that this is a michelada drink that is well blended and flavorful. The only thing missing is the bit of texture a homemade or even restaurant-made michelada gets from salt, pepper, hot sauce, and other spices. Modelo Chelada Tamarindo Picante is blended smooth as silk.
All in all, this is an impressive rendering of the real thing. I will still enjoy making my own at home, but what happens if I’m out of lime, or my clamato has gone bad? Well, I’m hopefully just a convenience store run away from having the next best thing. To be honest, this stuff will fill in very nicely, regardless.
Modelo Chelada Tamarindo Picante also is just 3.3 percent ABV, which makes it nice for long sessions with friends. The new beverage will be sold in 24-ounce cans with a suggested retail price of $2.99.