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Judge's Review: 82 Rating - El Gato Mariachi by Catawba Brewing Co.

March, 2020
Judges Rating: 
18 / 24
6 / 6
32 / 40
9 / 10
Overall Impression: 
17 / 20

El Gato Mariachi by Catawba Brewing Co. is a wheat ale (BJCP category 1D), but due to the additions of lactose, vanilla and cinnamon it shifts to Spice, Herb & Vegetable Beer, which is BJCP 2015 category 30A. This beer pours a light straw color with some haze, which is normal for a wheat style. It has as a bright white head that is fluffy and effervescent when poured, but collapses fast as it clings to the glass. The aroma is very spice-forward with lots of clove, nutmeg and white peppercorn. There is a light malt underneath with crackery pils-like and doughy wheat notes followed by a faint sweet vanilla milkshake at the backend. The flavor is similar but more balanced but still malt/spice-forward. The spice is more muted, allowing higher levels of malt to come through as soft honey wheat bread. The spice blend showcases more of the cinnamon and vanilla additions, but also displays some ginger and peppercorn. The hops are almost non-existent providing a faint floral character and a low level of bitterness that leads into a semi-sweet finish. Despite the lactose addition, the body is still fairly light with a soft mouthfeel and no astringency.

I know of the drink, but I’ve never had a Horchata myself to know how well it matches up. The additions were complementary to the style without overcoming it. It was a welcome new take on a SHV beer rather than the same old combinations.