A few months ago, Mattie alerted me of the existence of Chelada, Anheuser-Busch's latest foray into the Latino market. This peculiar new product from the makers of America's favorite beer was not available in my current home of Massachusetts, so I had to wait until I returned to California to give it a try. Some of you might remember my obsession with V8 Juice, and by extension, love of bloody maries. It was only natural that I write this review.
First off, the Chelada is a (some would say unholy) union of Bud Light and Clamato. The latter concoction is made from some of the best stuff on earth: reconstituted tomato juice concentrate, reconstituted clam broth, and high fructose corn syrup. Mmm, that's good stuff. I've never really been a drinker of it, but since I'm okay with tomato juice, I can handle it. I didn't really notice any "clam" flavoring, but I'll assume it's there. As for the Bud Light, I'm sure you all know what it tastes like going down (as well as back up).
Apparently the Michelada is a popular beer based drink in Mexico, and it's based off of the bloody mary. The drink dates back to the 1940s, and has many different variations. It's basically a combination of lager, clamato, lime juice and salt. That said, the result is a combination of lager, clamato, lime juice and salt. The flavors are pretty much all there, and they all hit you in the face. I was able to find another bottled version of the Chelada here in Boston, but it was missing the crucial tomato ingredient that made reviewing this beer so essential. Can keep an eye out for that one. Anyways, Beer Advocate rates the Anheuser-Busch Chelada as a "chile beer" (sic), but it tasted about as spicy as ketchup. But we all know how my last experience with spicy beers went, so too much can really be a bad thing. Thanks, Habo!
Due to its distinct cultural connection with Mexico, the Chelada has been unleashed primarily in the southwest. That means that those of us living in the winter-blighted northern cities not blessed with a concentration of la raza will probably be out of luck. One can only hope that this alluring potion will capture the hearts of America's Anglo population, and will one day spread throughout the country so that it can be imbibed in its colder extremities.
I was finally able to stumble upon a can of the stuff at a shifty truck stop outside of Coalinga, CA. After reaching San Jose and playing a few games of Beirut, I finally prepared myself for what could be my death. I made sure I had put the can in the freezer, as nothing could possibly be worse than warm beer combined with warm mollusc-tomato juice. It only comes in tall boy cans; once you open it up, you've got a long way until the end, so drink up!
Once popped, a faint aroma of salty tomato juice filled the air. The taste, well... it tasted what it sounded like, and slightly less repulsive than I had imagined. The consistency was far less thick than normal tomato juice, and the carbonation kept it feeling light. The lime and salt complimented the tomato juice quite well, contrasting with the standard piss based Bud Light.
I prepared myself for a possible gag reflex, as it's happened to me in the past with previous attempts at gross beers. It never came. I had another sip, and was relieved that I could drink it with ease.
Despite this, Chelada is not for the faint of heart. But faint of heart is one who simply cannot stand tomato juice. Honestly, if you like bloody maries, you're probably going to like this. It's light, and possibly great for a summer day (brunch, maybe?). If you can't get past the whole "BUT THERE'S CLAMS IN IT!" mindset, there's no way you're going to like it. If you can, bébala! Besides, if you were already concerned about your health, you probably shouldn't be drinking beer anyways. You might as well kill a few brain cells and get a dose of something else besides the carbs.
Unfortunately, I was only able to procure one can. Since I was already a bit inebriated, my taste buds were likely not as sensitive as I would have hoped. That said, feel free to post your own reviews of this stuff. I honestly thought it was not as bad as expected, but nonetheless unsettling that I was enjoying such a combination.
Anheuser-Busch Chelada, also known as the "red one," is available at shady truck stops off of California highways and other privileged locations.