After an inspirational visit to Mexico City, New Belgium Brewing’s R&D brewer Cody Reif returned to the brewery’s Colorado headquarters to try and bring the refreshing flavors of traditional aguas frescas to a summer brew. The brewer eventually teamed up with Mexico City’s Cervecería Primus to develop what it refers to as “a slightly boozier (but still highly refreshing)” riff on an agua fresca: Mural, a collaborative “agua fresca cerveza.”
Appearance and Aroma
Mural actually looks like a different trendy summer offering: the brut IPA or ale. Take that familiar amber ale golden brown and add a distinct pink hue, and you’ve got Mural (though compared to a brut IPA, this beer comes with a fairly generous foam head on it). In non-beer form, agua frescas are typically a delightfully aromatic experience. But in light beer form, well, things are as watered down as you might expect. Taking a big breath of Mural offers that familiar fresca freshness but only faintly through hints of watermelon and lime.
Mural has the balance just right.”
Mural in no way shies away from being a light beer—the 110-calorie count is prominently displayed on the can—and this beer delivers on this promise. The first sip sends soft watermelon and hibiscus towards your tongue with just a touch of light beer. Whether your preferred cheap but “healthy” can is Michelob, Miller, Keystone, Coors, or otherwise, light beer has a distinct taste and Mural captures that while elevating things through the slight additions of the agua fresca elements. Ultimately, Mural proves to be a supremely serene sipper between its low-ABV (4%), low-calorie beer base and the easy-going fruit additions. Over time, the beer’s lime component becomes the most prominent flavor, but New Belgium has even tamed this element considerably.
It’d be easy to dismiss Mural before even cracking the can. After all, light beer has a certain reputation among dedicated beer drinks, and a light beer with watermelon and lime sounds best left to collegiate basements. But Mural has the balance just right. The flavor is always present but never overwhelming, and the overall experience refreshes, whether enjoyed plain or as the basis for something more (the brewery recommends Mural Palomas or Mural Mules, for instance). If beer fused with other drinks becomes the craft trend of the summer, maybe more brewers should aim for aguas frescas instead of rosé.