13 Apr Beer Chronicle Cinco de Mayo at Ingenious
Beer Chronicle Cinco de Mayo at Ingenious
Back in December of 2019 before everything got weird, we helped plan a really cool Cinco de Mayo at Ingenious. Clearly, 2020 had other ideas, but now that more people are vaccinated and getting out, we wanted to give it another shot even if it is dialed back a bit.
On May 1st, Ingenious Brewing Company will be releasing several Mexican-inspired beers and their contracted house food truck, Gastrocraft, will be slinging some delicious Latin fare in celebration of the upcoming Cinco de Mayo. This event was actually suggested by me in an attempt to make a craft brewery experience less intimidating for some of my best friends that wouldn’t be caught dead at a brewery.
How it Happened
There’s nothing that I love more than a good, clean, crisp Mexican Lager. It’s becoming trendy now to brew Pilsners, Helles, and other light, crisp styles, but I’ve been ranting about this since the summer of 2017 and then again in 2018. Heck, we even told Back Pew to brew a Mexican Lager almost 2 years before Chola was born! There’s just something about that style that feels right in my hand.
As I shared in the most vulnerable and personal article I’ve ever written in the last 5 years in the wake of George Floyd’s public murder, I’m first-generation. A Hispanic man. And I don’t think I say it enough. I’ve felt like people like me are underserved in the craft beer community, so any time I’ve been given a chance to put some of my family’s culture into the beer scene, I’ve jumped in head first without thinking twice.
That’s partially why I keep on ranting about Mexican Lagers. Most of my childhood friends (that I still associate with) don’t drink craft beer.
My childhood best friends JJ and Daniel have literally been quoted saying:
“IPA? Maaan, haaale naah. That shit’s gross. Gimme a Dos Equis, homie.”
“CUCUMBERS IN A BEER!? I ALWAYS WANTED TO DRINK A FUCKIN SALAD! HAH – YEAHRIGHT! GTFOH WITH THAT, MAN!”
Both guys that said that are also Hispanic like me. Now, every single time I hear about cucumbers in a beer, I can’t help but laugh as I hear Daniel in my head, but I digress. These fools are NOT trying to drink the kind of beer that you and I drink. Forget about it.
The only craft beer that JJ’s ever liked? Southern Star Hecho en Conroe. And Daniel? Eureka Heights Buckle Bunny. As a matter of fact, Daniel purchases it regularly now ever since I introduced it to him a few years back.
Ok, So I Like Mexican Lagers – We Get It. What’s that got to do with Cinco de Mayo at Ingenious?
Picture this: I’m designing the next month’s batch of Ingenious beer labels when Justin Gyorfi at Ingenious tells me they’re gonna brew a Mexican Lager and call it “Chico Crujiente” (crispy boi in Spanish).
YES. YES, LORD. SO. MUCH. YESSS. (If you didn’t know already, I design most of their labels, and my team and I designed their website)
Ingenious always does these big themed events:
Baseball season – Baseball trivia and baseball inspired beer
Saint Patrick’s Day – Irish trivia and Irish inspired beer
Mardi Gras – Mardi Gras inspired beer
Christmas – Christmas movie trivia and Christmas movie inspired beer
You get the idea…
Knowing that Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that’s intended to celebrate Mexican culture specifically, why not use it as an opportunity to inject a bit of that into the beer scene? AND get some of my friends out at one of these crazy-creative breweries to show people like Daniel and JJ that, yes, cucumbers in a beer CAN be just as good as a crispy boi, and maybe get them to try something outside of their comfort zone!
So I shoot my shot.
I ask Justin if he and the Ingenious team are down for me to pitch a dozen beer concepts, see what sticks, brew them, and work on an event that’ll get my friends to come out to a craft brewery.
(While I fully recognize that Cinco de Mayo is just another reason to have a themed party in the US and it really holds little significance in Mexico, we’re not in Mexico, and people of all colors and cultures like to have a good time while indulging in different cultures. My friends and I usually get together, grill, share a few beers and tacos, so why not expand that experience at a brewery?)
To my surprise, Justin’s on board! Here’s the very first email of that conversation from 2019.
Ideas start racing. I text Josh to get his take on some beer ideas that also appeal to the beer nerds like us that are into trying new things. I start looking into taco trucks that we could try and book. I reach out to my favorite piñata lady off of Broadway to see what it’d cost to make the Ingenious logo into a massive piñata.
(BTW, don’t EVER buy a store-bought piñata again. I know a lady that’ll make the strongest, longest-lasting, most dope piñata you’ve ever seen – slide in the DMs, and I’ll share her info. She can do pretty much anything you want. Took my kids and their friends over an hour of pounding on this thing before they gave up and the adults had to step in and end it. It was legendary.)
The idea progresses a bit more, and just before it’s time for Ingenious to start brewing the beers, and me to begin designing the labels, this crazy thing happens.
COVID. NINE. TEEN.
We’re all stuck in our houses, washing our Instacart groceries in the sink with actual soap and water and tipping the Instacart folks wild big tips for risking their safety to bring us food. Essential workers are out and about with as much caution as they can manage. Breweries shut down. Restaurants do too. We start raising money to donate to restaurantes and telling everybody to buy gift cards and merch. Our kids think it’s a game, and they get an early start to summer. It’s wild.
The Cinco de Mayo at Ingenious idea is R.I.P. just like my wife’s graduation ceremony (after investing 12 years and like $100k in student loans studying to be a Social Worker). Welp. Charge it to the game. Everybody has to lose something in a situation like this.
But it’s been a year, and things are looking a bit more bright!
We Didn’t Think the Ingenious Cinco de Mayo Event Would Return a year later, But it Did!
Hallelujah! Let’s get it!
But wait. Things are different now. Breweries have contracts with food trucks in order to be able to stay open because somehow having a food vendor means we’re all safer.
So all the breweries in town shift somehow to stay open and keep their teams employed. GastroCraft becomes the taco truck at Ingenious.
Half of the beer ideas that I pitched can’t be made because on-premise sales are down. People still aren’t flocking out to breweries just yet. That means we won’t be able to sell through a bunch of esoteric-themed beers… So we scale it back to just a few.
Fine! Let’s dial it back, make sure everybody’s safe, and do whatever we can to make the most of the crappy hand we’ve been dealt. I’m still gonna invite JJ and Daniel and their families. Hopefully, you and yours come out too.
While he’s not Hispanic, Dennis from GastroCraft is no slouch. He and his team will be slangin’ the eats, and I’ve never been disappointed. IYKYK.
The Beer Chronicle team and I will be out there with a merch table for those of you that don’t want to pay for shipping, and a good time will be had by all in attendance.
A portion of the proceeds from this event will be donated to help families in the Hispanic community. Since my mom’s here on a green card, and I spent the last few years worried she’d be deported by some sweeping legislation, I’m gonna pitch Annunciation House, but we’ll see. Ingenious has a great track record of giving back to the community – so much so they were voted the 2020 Most Valuable Brewery by readers like you. I’m confident that they’ll pick a great place to donate to.
Finally, I designed the art on most of those labels! Come and get you some cans of the okayest artwork in Houston!
See y’all soon. Beers to you, Houston.