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Good Beer Hunting

Feb 20, 2021

This week’s guest is a duo from Chicago who this past year, despite a pandemic, launched one of the city’s most exciting Mexican-inspired brewery concepts: Casa Humilde Cervenceria.

Chicago is perhaps uniquely focused on Mexican culture when it comes to beer. We’re the city that launched 5 Rabbit Cerveceria—the first Latin-inspired craft brewery in the U.S. who despite many early, and seemingly ongoing challenges, is still in operation on the far Southwest side. Cruz Blanca, a brewpub on Randolph Street originally launched in collaboration with Rick Bayless , the famous chef from Frontera, coco, and Topolobampo and others is known for it’s incredible food, cocktails, and increasingly getting the recognition it deserves for its beers, especially their wild and barrel-aged offerings.

But even in a mix like that, Casa Humilde has a unique point of view of what it means to be Mexican-inspired, and indeed Mexican, in craft beer in 2021.

They make fantastic lagers, both a corn lager and an amber. As well as beers that feature Mexican coffees, chocolate, and of course, the beers Javier and Jose themselves came of age with in the context of in Chicago, like haze pale ales and double IPAs.

Javier and Jose Lopez are two young founders focused on the intersection between the American craft scene they grew up in, and their culinary experiences stemming from an early age in Mexican families from which they take so much of their inspiration to explore beer, and far beyond.

There’s a big, winding conversation going on in the food world right now about what is, and isn’t considered “authentic” when it comes to the cuisine we would previously have called “ethnic” — and part of the conversation focuses on who benefits from, and who is held back by this idea of “authenticity.” Does the demand for authenticity protect those who have the primary experience with a cuisine? Or does it place an unfair burden on them as innovators, entrepreneurs, and ultimately box them in while white people are more free to explore ideas free of the tyranny of this so-called authenticity?

What Javier and Jose are doing with Casa Humilde highlights this tension for me—and the answers they’re producing in terms of their beers, where and how they’re sold, even a Micheleda, speak volumes for me about what’s at stake.

They’re also just really charming, ambitious, hard-working, and true to their name, humble brewers who represent the city of Chicago exceptionally well.