Every year, Sun King Brewery asks its staff to vote on a new style of beer to try to make. In 2016, the team at the Indianapolis-based brewery chose to create a Mexican-style lager meant to upstage the Modelos or Tecates of the world, and so Pachanga was born.
Sun King’s brewers soon felt their new lager was too good to be just a one-off special, and, Pachanga transitioned from summer seasonal to a year-round core offering in 2018. Perhaps it’s no surprise that it became one of October readers’ most-requested beers to review this year.
Appearance and Aroma
A piñata graces Pachanga’s tallboy can, and pouring the beer into a pint glass only continues the fun. This lager is light gold, almost the exact same shade as one of those glittery cone party hats and the special gold color can tabs Sun King uses for Pachanga. That overall lightness extends to the beer’s nose as faint malt and corn scents stand out.
Sun King created a Platonic ideal of this specific style: mild earthy flavors, a clean and light drinking experience, and a beer you can have all afternoon without falling down immediately.”
Sun King has stayed extremely faithful to classic Mexican lagers. Pachanga is a light, crushable beer—both in its ABV (only 4.1%) and in how it drinks. First sips reveal a very, very light mouthfeel, to the point where it may take drinkers one or two to pick up on the subtle flavors (sweet corn and malt primarily). If consumed cold at moderate pace, the experience is as pleasant as you’d want, but letting Pachanga linger may lead to feelings of the beer being watery or more bitter than you’d prefer.
Mexican lagers are often a blank slate—they’re commonly served with a lime wedge or used as the base for something like a michelada. Pachanga seems like an ideal core beer for this kind of enjoyment, as it has just enough character to not get lost among such additions. Sun King created a Platonic ideal of this specific style: mild earthy flavors, a clean and light drinking experience, and a beer you can have all afternoon without falling down immediately. Indianapolis may not have a bevy of beaches to offer, but it has a pretty perfect pairing beer.