Beer Beer Beer

Beer of the Week: Xingu Brazilian Black Beer

Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie

will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it:

How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find

it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer

you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

One thing about South and Central American beers: They tend to be similar. Pretty much all the cusquenos, caballeros, aguilas, and imperials of the world are modeled after the same German/Czech lager recipes (the same ones that have been distorted in the U.S. by Bud, Miller, and Coors). And yes, that formula does taste good with some South American foods (dried corn and ceviche, for example). But not much else. If there's any creativity going on in the South American beer market, we're not really seeing it stateside.

There's an exception to every rule, and yesterday I found it. It's

called Xingu (pronounced: shin-goo), a black lager from Brazil that

recently appeared in liquor stores and some craft retailers. I picked

up a six-pack of the stuff at ABC Liquors, let it chill a while, and

poured a glass.

Xingu, like other dark lagers, tempers the flavor and richness of dark

malt with the smooth drinkability of a light lager. But it also has a

sort of fruity, corn-like funkiness that you don't typically find in dark

beers. That's because the recipe is actually a mixture of European brew

technique and native Amazonian tradition. The body, a dark black ruby

color, is nonetheless clear like a lager. The head is foamy with big,

soapy bubbles. The mouth feel, light and smooth, gives way to

chocolate, roasted coffee, and sour fruit. And it's all accompanied by

a persistently refreshing amount of carbonation -- a mouth-buzzing rarity in a dark


At 4.7 percent alcohol, Xingu won't leave you flat either. It's a South

American beer that breaks from the plain-Jane lager tradition and adds

something new as a result. Pick it up in six-packs ($10) from ABC


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John Linn