The folks at Mexico’s Monstruo de Agua brewery started with a simple mission. After seeing Mexican beer following in the footsteps of US brewers, the brewer wanted to make beer that was uniquely Mexican. Enter Nochtli, a golden ale crafted with prickly pear and lemon balm from the Monstruo garden, that has been brewed since 2016.
The beer looks like a standard wheat ale: straw-gold with minimal foam or bubbles. Lemon peel and grassy aromas come through clearly at first, with nopales, or cactus fruit, introducing an earthy element. In line with the beer’s smell, Nochtli hits your tongue with an initial bitter burst: mild lemon, hops, and very little grain (to the point you might get hard seltzer vibes). Those flavors don’t linger long, allowing the vegetal prickly pear to become the star of the show.
Although an axolotl guards its label, Nochtli is a chameleon of a brew. It can shift from bitter to savory within the course of 12 ounces, giving drinkers a taste of terroir they can’t often find from local brewers. And after sampling this unique golden ale, here’s hoping more American brewers take cues from their southern neighbors.