When Luchador Became Luchaleno
At one point Wiretap made a beer called Luchador, a Mexican Strong Ale. A lot of people loved the identity of a craft beer that had roots from south of the border. Those that are beer scholars coughed heavily at a non BJCP defined beer style since, amazingly, if you’re from Africa, Latin America, Southeast and Eastern Asia, or some major countries in Europe, the BJCP does not define nor allow for competition, styles of brewing beer which might be centric or relateable to your specific country or region.
If you’re from LA you’ve been to a taco place right? Even not from LA but to a “Latin” or “Mexican” place? The beer on tap is Modelo? Pacifico? Bohemia, Estrella Jalisco, Montejo, etc? Did you have one of those MEXICAN beers? Did you enjoy that MEXICAN beer versus other stuff they might have had on tap, like Bud Light, and American beer? Did you notice I italicized MEXICAN and but didn’t American?
Well it’s worth noting that while just about anyone would agree Mexican beers have a distinct quality the BJCP doesn’t define them as a style.
So, is Wiretap on a quest to fight the BJCP? No, not at all, we actually commend the BJCP for in a way professionalizing the analysis of beer. If you want to have competitions you need metrics and someone needs to own those metrics. They’re standardized by the BJCP and that’s good. However, we don’t agree on the countries that have unique styles that the BJCP permits. Just like our example above most of us can agree Japanese beers have a unique style. So, if someone outside of Japan wants to brew a beer similar to other styles of Japanese beer a) there’s no classification or style guidelines which defines a widely known type of beer, and b) if they ever want to submit that beer to a competition they’ll need to re-assess what random category of other stuff it might fit in. Annoying? Yes, considering the things that are categories.
FOR EXAMPLE, there is an entire category for HISTORICAL BEERS. Had a KENTUCKY COMMON lately? If someone said KENTUCKY COMMON would you think it’s a bourbon drink before you guessed beer? We know you would. Does it come in a green bottle or a brown bottle?
PRE-PROHIBITION LAGER. Seriously.
IPA? There’s eight types of IPAs.
PALE MALTY EUROPEAN LAGERS. Munich Helles, Helles Bock, and Festbier. We have a category carved out for beer that’s made for festivals -literally.
Alright so probably close to half of the 2015 edition of the BJCP style guidelines has beers most Americans have never had but what about globally popular styles? Like JAPANESE BEER! Oh I’m sorry that’s not a category. Maybe some of the oddly malty or oddly watery beers from places like Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, you know? SOUTHEAST ASIA? What about an entire continent called South America that might, due to trade issues like in Brazil, not have inexpensive access to certain types of hops? Or in Wiretap’s case, MEXICO. People just can’t leave us alone because there’s technically no such thing as a Mexican Strong Ale because there’s no such thing as MEXICAN beers.
And yeah, we get it. Modelo is made in Mexico and that makes it a Mexican beer by definition but by the book not a style. I think a lot of people, including the folks at Wiretap, would argue that just like the Mexican beer discussion above people would generally classify Corona, Dos Equis, Bohemia, Modelo, and others of similarity that they have a flavor commonality that most would agree is MEXICAN STYLE.
As you can see there’s so much buried in an identity and we had thought about this so much in talking about the Mexican Strong Ale labeling we has on our Luchador cans. As we thought more about the name we decided “Luchador” didn’t grasp what we were going for either. It’s a cool name but it’s not centric to where it was born. Wiretap was started as an LA brand, we specifically wanted to be in a certain neighborhood, and ultimately that’s who we are and that’s who we want to represent. So, in our best effort, we present Luchaleno -a Luchador and an Angeleno.
Our newly branded Luchaleno cans roll out this weekend debuting at Smorgasbord in DTLA and shortly thereafter at all the existing awesome places you can find our beer. In addition to the name change, and much appreciated by those scholars, the label now accurately reflects “Belgian-Style Ale.” As it is.
lucha por tu derecho a la fiesta
Also- public radio does an amazing background of the spelling of Angeleno with an ‘e’ versus ‘i’ as well as the ‘n’ an ‘ñ’ or a ‘n’. We’re pretty sold on it being an ‘e’ :)