Contrary to popular belief – Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day (that’s September 16th). It’s actually a day that celebrates the Mexican army’s unexpected victory over the French forces of Napoleon III on May 5, 1862 – the Battle of Puebla.
After struggling to pay war debts to European countries, Mexico was invaded by the French in an effort to collect the debt owed. After an almost all-day battle, the French lost nearly 500 men (compared to the 100 lost by Mexico) . Though not a major win in the war with the French, the Mexican victory was still symbolic and is credited for kick-starting the Mexican resistance.
Today, celebrations in Mexico for Cinco de Mayo are a bit different than celebrations here in the U.S. Traditions usually include military parades, recreations of the Battle of Puebla and other festive events.
This Cinco de Mayo – we’re highlighting two awesome beverage companies that are paying homage to Mexican culture and the beautiful history behind it – while also tapping into the American-style celebrations of the day 😉.
We got the chance to speak with Josh Zad, president of Cervecería Calidad – a Mexican-style beer with California roots that’s about to sweep through the beverage industry – about how his beer is made, and what makes it so special.
First – tell us about Calidad! How did you get into the beer business?
After successfully launching multiple locations of cult-favorite LA hangouts Alfred Coffee and Alfred Tea, I was looking to round out my beverage portfolio and replicate what I did with common, everyday beverages like coffee and tea, but with a new product – beer.
Calidad, a Mexican-style beer, that satisfies consumers’ growing appetite for light, drinkable lagers. Locally made in Santa Barbara, CA, Calidad is as authentic and familiar as your favorite Mexican beer but crafted with higher quality ingredients and infused with Californian spirit.
What is Mexican-style beer and how does it differ from those typically seen in the U.S. market?
Mexican-style beers are usually lagers, brighter in taste and with lower ABVs, or alcohol by volume. Different from most beers, Mexican-style lagers are very drinkable and pair well with most foods because of their refreshing, light-bodied nature. Not to mention, they almost always contain corn as an ingredient.
Can you tell us a little about how your beer is made (no recipe secrets, of course!)?
We’ve partnered with an expert brewer in Santa Barbara, CA to perfect our formula and brew Calidad Our beer is made from simple but quality ingredients, expertly combined to create a smooth, crisp taste that is – naturally – best paired with fresh lime and good friends!
What’s a fun fact about Mexican-style beer you think people should know?
Mexican-style beer is partly influenced by Vienna lager due to immigrant brewers coming to Mexico in the 1800s!
What are your goals for impacting the beverage industry with Calidad?
With Calidad, we are reexamining the Mexican beer category through a California lens. We want to create America’s go-to Mexican-style cerveza. But we aren’t stopping there, we plan to build Calidad into its own lifestyle brand, eventually expanding into other Mexican spirits and the broader Mexican food and lifestyle space – all the while never losing its emphasis on one obsession: quality.
Do you have any advice for entrepreneurs looking to get into the beer business?
Planning and patience are key, be thoughtful and take your time when developing your new company. You only get one shot to launch and live up to the hype.
Where can people purchase Calidad?
Calidad isn’t available for purchase just yet. BUT we’re launching later this summer, starting with Southern California and eventually expanding into other states. At launch, our beer will be available on tap at bars and restaurants as well as grocery store chains and liquor stores.