Over the past two decades, Southern California breweries have caught up to the high standard set by the area’s famously delicious taquerias, but it wasn’t until Placentia’s The Bruery released its Or Xata blonde ale in 2013 that So Cal’s craft beer and Mexican food forged a new common ground. As one might expect, Or Xata was inspired by the cinnamon-sprinkled rice milk drink horchata. By re-interpreting this Latin American staple as a lactose-dosed blonde ale, The Bruery has concocted an excellent pairing for tacos.
Or Xata pours a sticky-looking bronze, the same color as Werther’s Originals. This one looks more like mead than beer. A sugary haze clouds the body, propping up a tightly formed, milky head.
Or Xata smells like a dessert shop. You get scents of molasses cookies, rice pudding, and coffee cake right away. Cinnamon and nutmeg rise to the top. To its credit, Or Xata smells much like horchata, but it’s a perversely over-saturated version with a sturdy dose of booze that grabs you by the nostrils before you’ve even committed to a sip.
Or Xata is smooth and creamy, with a light dusting of cinnamon capping off the first sip.”
The unmistakable flavor or horchata comes in right away. Or Xata is smooth and creamy, with a light dusting of cinnamon capping off the first sip. At 7.1% ABV, Or Xata is a pretty heavy beer, but that extra booze comes through like honey, adding to the delightful combination of lactose and caramelized sugar. The only problem here is the serving size. I’m drinking Or Xata from a 16-ounce Belgian bottle. Why? I know there are pint cans out there, but this beer needs to come in six-packs of longnecks.
Most horchata beers don’t recreate the experience of horchata. Instead, brewers opt to use horchata as a mix-in flavor for a stout or porter, similar to how they use peanut butter or raspberries. The Bruery bucks the easy path by taking a light, golden blonde ale and imbuing it with every essential element of horchata: rice, cinamon, vanilla, and milk, all combined into an infinitely refreshing elixir that’s made for beachside taco truck trips.