11 Best Beers For A Michelada

There's a popular brunch cocktail out there that's lighter than the tried and true Bloody Mary and not nearly as sweet as the perfect mimosa. It's the Michelada — a bubbly version of the classic Bloody Mary.

Made with beer instead of vodka, the Michelada has been a Mexican favorite since the '60s when it is believed to have been created in a bar as a hangover cure. While it's been a staple south of the border for decades, it's only appeared on our shores in recent years. The recipe is simple: tomato juice, beer, a little lime, and some salt. After that, you can add anything you want. Like it spicy? Whisk in some chili powder. Prefer it sweeter, add a little peach puree. However you mix up the Michelada is totally at your discretion. But, the one ingredient you absolutely can't skip is beer.

The type of beer you use can absolutely make or break the drink. So, we spoke to several bartenders and beer aficionados from around the country to find out which ones they recommend for the best possible Michelada. Some are darker brews while others veer more toward sour ales. Below are 11 recommendations for what some call a Bloody Beer.

Revision Brewing Company El Repaso

Sister's Barn in Redondo Beach, California, is a local barbecue place that not only makes a mean brisket but also has a huge line of craft beers both on draft and in cans to go. If you're unsure whether a stout, lager, or sour will go best with that pulled pork slider, Kirk Reger will steer you in the right direction. He picks all the beers sold at Sister's Barn and so knows a thing or two about which beers go best with which dish, including which beer makes the best Michelada. 

"For me personally, it is all about the spice and stuff in the glass," says Reger, "i.e. pepper, horseradish, salt, Worcestershire, Tabasco, some of our signature little secret smoked meat rub, a little bit of lemon pepper, and a squeeze of lime, all of course on top of good clean tomato juice (some people like to start with a bloody mary mix)." He goes on to say that "the beer itself has to not be too overbearing but have a solid base; El Repaso from Revision is one of my favorites!" 

El Repaso is Revision Brewing Company's Mexican-style lager. Available in 16-ounce cans, El Repaso is one of Revision's easiest sippers as it has a low IBU and comes in at a mere 4.7% ABV.

Avery Brewing Company Island Rascal

Based out of Boulder Colorado, Avery Brewing Company has been brewing beer since the '90s when owner, Adam Avery, started brewing beer in his home. Thirty years later the brewery is bigger and better than ever, making at least 18 different cans from barrel-aged stouts to IPAs. There's even a taproom and restaurant that has more than 30 different beers on tap at once. Thankfully, you don't have to travel all the way to Colorado to taste Avery's beer. Several of the brand's brews are available online for you to enjoy at home. 

But, it's the Island Rascal that Paavn Patel says is his top choice for a spicy michelada. The owner of Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar in Corona, California says that they're frequently asked what beer would make the best Michelada. "We pick a beer for a michelada based on the spice mix being used," he says. "A spicier michelada mix from southern/eastern Mexico and we go for Ogopogo's mango wheat or Avery Island Rascal. Both have a tropical fruit flavor that works well with a spicier mix." Not to be confused with the other two Rascal beers on Avery's docket, the Island Rascal is a tart, tropical Belgian-style ale that's made with passionfruit and spices.

Interboro Finest Light Lager

Several experts we spoke to had a difficult time picking just one beer for the Michelada as each beer brings something different to the drink. Kevin Bradford, a partner at Harlem Hops in New York, believes "the Mexican Lager style allows the adjuncts (lime, spices & peppers) in the Michelada to take the center stage but allowing that satisfying carbonated beer finish (like drinking an ice cold beer on a stifling hot summer day)." Bradford says "I wanted to select a style of beer that is commonly made by our local breweries here in the tri-state area but would still act as a suitable base beer for the Michelada. The American lager checks all the boxes."

One such lager is Interboro's Finest Light Lager. Based out of Brooklyn, New York, Interboro was started in 2016 by Laura Dierks and Jesse Ferguson whose goal was to bring people together through their spirits and beers. It's a beer Bradford says he always has on tap at Harlem Hops, and one he enjoys because it's a crisp, clean beer that has sweet, grassy notes thanks to the brewery's yeast strain. It's the kind of brew that's perfect for a hot, summer day — and a michelada. 

Prairie Artisan Ales Pineapple Whip Treat

If you like a fruitier Michelada, Prairie Artisan Ale's Pineapple Whip Treat is the beer for you. Founded in 2012 when brothers Chase and Colin Healy teamed up with Zach Prichard and his Krebs Brewing Company, Prairie wanted to focus on brewing "cool beers" with creative artwork that "demands your attention." With labels that include a dancing pineapple and a bright green pickle monster decorating its cans and bottles, we think they've succeeded. 

The Healys and Prichard started small, creating a farmhouse ale they simply called Prairie Ale. Then in 2013, they brewed the first batch of Bomb!, Prairie's flagship imperial stout. Today, Prairie has almost 80 different beers under its label and is distributed all over the world.

A sour ale that has pineapple, vanilla, and marshmallow, Prairie says its Pineapple Whip Treat has "some whip! whip! It's got some nae nae. It's the real deal." But, Wes Jacobs from Select Beer Store picked it for his Michelada because when he started sampling beers for the cocktail "my thoughts veered from a traditional michelada to more of a Mexican fruit cup." He says the Pineapple Whip Treat "paired extremely well with a heavy hand of Tajin, lime, and salt and just a splash of clamato to balance the acidity." 

Beachwood Brewing Dia de los Mangos

Another beer recommendation for Wes Jacob's self-proclaimed "Mexican fruit cup" is Beachwood Brewing's Dia De Los Mangos. The owner of Select Beer says "I like the Mexican fruit stand character especially when the glass is heavily rimmed with Tajin. I also like the way the acidity actually brightens the clamato without adding any more sodium." Jacobs goes on to say that "if you stick a slice of jicama as a stir stick ... perfection." 

A craft beer specialty store and tap room in Redondo Beach, California, Select Beer is constantly rotating the 18 beers they have on tap. But, they also have over 500 different bottled varieties as well, everything from stouts to ciders to sours, including the Dia de los Mangos.

One of three sour ales from Beachwood Brewing, the Dia de los Mangos is a 6.8% ABV Belgian-style sour ale that Beachwood says was influenced by the unique flavors of Mexican candy. It's fermented and aged in oak barrels with mango, tamarind, and chili.

Hodad's Brewing Company Surf Punk Baja Lager

If you prefer a basic Michelada that's just beer and tomato juice, Paavn Patel, the owner of The Brass Tap Craft Beer Bar in Corona, recommends Hodad's Brewing Company's Surf Punk. "We pick a beer for a michelada based on the mix being used. For a tomato juice-based michelada mix, a crisp Mexican lager is what we would pick," he says. That's exactly what Surf Punk is. The award-winning Baja-style lager is a simple 4.5% ABV that, according to Hodad's, is crisp and refreshing.  

Located in San Diego, California, Hodad's started as a little burger stand on the beach in 1969. Fifty years and a spot on Guy Fieri's Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives later, that tiny burger joint is now a three-location chain and brewery. According to 10 News San Diego, Hodad's manager, Marlow Myrmo, started brewing just four beers specifically to go with their burgers, but Hodad's is now up to 10 different kinds, all of which are available on draft or in 12 and 16-ounce cans. That way you can enjoy them at home, either on their own or in a Michelada.

Pacifico Clara

Pacifico is that very recognizable yellow can that Baja surfers and southern California beachgoers know and love. It's an easy-sipping lager that was born in Mazatlan in 1900. It would have stayed in Baja, were it not for a group of Southern California surfers who ventured south of the border in search of some killer waves. Not only did they find the breaks they were looking for, they are said to have also discovered the brand of Mexican beer and returned to the states with great surfing stories and a few cases to commemorate their trip. These surfers shared their discovery, and now Pacifico is available at most grocery and liquor stores nationwide. 

While Pacifico may be the perfect beer to quench your thirst after a long day in the salty sea, it also happens to be Dave Stockhausen's favorite choice for a Michelada. "It's crisp, smooth, and has just enough hop presence to balance out the salt and spice," says the man in charge of beer operations at The Bier Stein in Eugene, Oregon. Originally a small, neighborhood craft beer bar when it opened in 2005, today the bar has more than 25 revolving taps and 1,000 different bottles of beer from around the world, including that little yellow can from Baja.

Borderland Brewing Co. Viejo Pueblo

When Jessie Jean, the co-owner of the Tuscon Hop Shop, thinks about the perfect beer for a Michelada, she "would recommend something in the realm of an American or Mexican style pilsner or blonde ale, or a cold-fermented lager for added dry crispness. This would provide a mostly neutral beer backdrop to support the interplay between tart, spicy, and salty that you would want in a michelada," she says. "Tartness from lime and tomato, heat from chilies, and ideally a Tajin rim on the glass to top it off." The beer that checks all those boxes for her? Borderland Brewing Company's Viejo Pueblo. Jean says it's "even brewed with local Tohono O'odham maize, which would add a balancing sweetness to the michelada."

Part of the Arizona Craft Brewers Guild, Borderlands Brewing Co. has been brewing craft beers since 2011 when Mike Mallozzi and Myles Stone opened up the original brewery in Tuscon. After seven years of serving beer, they opened a second spot in Phoenix where they continue selling their classic beers that locals know and love while creating some new varieties as well. Both taprooms have 10 beers on draft as well as small Mexican-influenced menus, so you can savor a taco or quesadilla while you enjoy any of Borderlands' craft brews, including the Viejo Pueblo.

Martin House Brewing Company The Salty Lady

The Salty Lady from Martin House Brewing Company is Ted Calvin's "personal go-to" for a Michelada. A beer "made in Texas by Texans," The Salty Lady is Martin House's take on a German-style gose (pronounced go-suh) beer. Slightly tart and a little salty, the brewery says that this beer owes its flavor to a combination of salts from all over the world and a little coriander, the typical ingredients found in a classic gose. Martin House then makes the beer its own by fermenting it with a house saison yeast. 

The result is a beer that the Growling Texas Beer Bar manager believes is a great base for a Michelada. "The sour bite and the saltiness balance well against the tomato, spices, and the umami notes of Worcestershire," says Calvin. Located in San Marcos, Texas, the Growling Texas Beer Bar serves up local ciders, meads, wines, and craft beers including The Salty Lady. While you can enjoy this gose at either Martin House or Growling, unfortunately, neither can ship the beer outside Texas due to the Texas Alcoholic Beer Commission laws. 

Twelve Percent Beer Project Snappy! American Lager

Twelve Percent Beer Project is one of the more unusual breweries on this list. Where most brands brew beer and then sell it, Twelve Percent works with other, smaller brewers from all over the world and then sells the beer under its moniker, which is based out of Connecticut. The goal of owners Brian Ewing and Alex Blank is to supplement the production of these tiny breweries so that their beers can be enjoyed by more people. 

New York's Harlem Hops, Manhattan's first 100% African American-owned craft beer bar, has a similar mission to work with the best niche breweries and expand access of those beers to the public. All the beers Harlem Hops keeps on tap are beers made by small, local, or family-owned businesses. Twelve Percent makes Snappy! American Lager, and at 5% ABV, it's light and crisp. Snappy! is one of Bradford's top choices for the Michelada. The partner at Harlem Hops says this beer is in constant rotation at his bar. 

Modelo Negra

"If you want to do something a little different I would recommend Modelo Negra," says Dave Stockhausen, the man in charge of beer operations at The Bier Stein. And he wasn't alone. A few bartenders, including Jessie Jean, mentioned Modelo's darker counterpart when we asked them what beer they reach for when making a Michelada. The co-owner of Tuscon Hop Shop says, "I also love to play around with an amber lager in a michelada to add some rich roastiness." Jean likes the Modelo Negra because it's so widely available.

Created in Mexico in 1925, Modelo expanded into the states where it continues to be imbibed by those looking for a good Mexican lager. The Negra is Modelo's version of a Munich Dunkel-style lager whose caramel malts are slow-roasted to give it that deep, dark amber color and lush, full-bodied flavor. "The nutty, fresh baked bread crust, and caramel notes impart a richer flavor akin to how a splash of stout richens up a Bloody Mary while being clean enough to not overpower the goodness of your other ingredients," adds Stockhausen.