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Beer of the Week: Mateveza Yerba Mate IPA

It seems as if the trend in drinking among “the youth” is to mix your alcoholic beverage with more and more highly caffeinated products.  Sure, rum and coke is essentially the same thing, but a Jaeger-bomb is another beast altogether.  Now, the trend comes to our favorite beverage beer in the form of the Mateveza line of ales. 

Don’t get my opening wrong, I have nothing against the idea of using yerba mate in a beer, actually I’m very intrigued.  When Mateveza came out with a new IPA (and packaging) I had to make the leap and try this beer with a little pick me up.

MateVeza Organic India Pale Ale is brewed with organic two-row, Munich, and caramel malt, organic yerba mate, and Cascade, Centennial, and Simcoe hops. The yerba mate provides a natural source of caffeine equal to 1/2 of a cup of coffee per 12-ounce bottle.

Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%
Bitterness: 60 IBU
Caffeine Content: 60 mg (per 12-ounce bottle)

The beer pours a little light, with a big foamy head that my pint glass couldn’t quite contain.  There’ an earthy, slightly fruity aroma to the beer. Thi isn’t the bigget IPA by anymeans, especially by California standards, but it drinks easy with a little sweetness and a grapefruity hop finish. The aftertaste is an earthy bitterness, slightly astringent and I can only assume this is the yerba mate, as it’s a new flavor to my beer drinking palate. After the pint’s finished the aftertaste builds but smooths out and actually compels you to keep drinking.

That’s the flavor of this beer, but there’s more to it than just flavor.  When a beer boldly proclaims to contain caffeine, you can’t help but think, “Well how much? Will I feel it?” The answers are not that much, and actually, yeah.  Now, I may be more sensitive to the effects as I’m not a big coffee drinker, but I could pick out the slight caffeine buzz.

What intrigues me most after trying this beer is the flavor of the yerba mate and how it plays into the beer.  I think there may be two ways of looking at this.  The first would apply to the Mateveza beer, one where you help the flavor stand out and become part of the overall profile. The goal may be for people to say “I can really taste the yerba mate.” The second might be an attempt to cover the flavor with like flavors and create a more subtle profile, keeping drinkers guessing what that different flavor is hiding amongst the familiar flavors. I couldn’t help but wonder how a yerba mate stout or even an amber might taste, with the darker malts lending a different type of bitterness that is more in line with the yerba mate.

Later in the evening I had another of these IPA and on this hot summer night it really refreshed and went down rather quickly. I’m curious about what Mateveza has coming down the line and hope to see more from this brewery.