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Mole and beer in Tacoma

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When it comes to a good Mexican meal, there are a hundred variations based on a mix-and-match menu system. Start with the accepted building blocks — enchiladas, tamales, guacamole salad, crispy tacos — add rice and beans, or alternately use a catchy name (the Mazatlan Platter, #2 Dinner). While the possibilities may not be endless, they’re at least beyond the appetites of most mortals.

But the beverage situation in the same Mexican joint is considerably easier to navigate.

Mexican beers such as Carta Blanca, Sol, and the now-omnipresent Corona twins (regular “Extra” and its way watery “Light” version) give Budweiser aficionados an excuse to expand their menu Spanish without going too far afield taste-wise. Add the theatrical trappings of the traditional mezcal routine (slice of lime, lick of salt), and a bottled cerveza becomes an exotic alternative to everyday draft.

Not me.

I search the beer list for a more flavorful option — Negra Modelo, which comes from the darker, more malty subset of German lagers known as Vienna style. While not as weighty as most British ales, the Mexican Viennas are fuller bodied with more malt sweetness and character than the pale pilsners. Analytical quaffers have often referred to Negra Modelo as having “hints of chocolate on the palate,” which ostensibly makes it a perfect match for mole.

Keeping with this rag’s theme of long story introductions, my local Mexican restaurant heaven consists of Vuelve a la Vida’s chicken mole with Negra Modelo riding shotgun.  It’s the perfect match. Their chicken mole smoky chocolate chili sauce, the best in the South sound, leans on the light side perfect for loading up on many a Modelo.

[Vuelve a la Vida, 5310 Pacific Ave., Tacoma, 253.473.7068]

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