NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- Hampton Roads already has a vibrant craft beer scene that is growing by the day, but the newest brew at Coelacanth Brewing could cross an international border.
On December 23, Coelacanth Brewing will release a winter beer called Contra el Muro (Against the Wall) in partnership with Cerveceria Artesanal Roberta in Mexico City, Mexico.
The beer is a Mexican Oatmeal Stout, brewed with Mexican chocolate and chipotle peppers, and was brewed by Matt Topping, Coelacanth’s Head Brewer and Director of Brewing Operations. But don’t worry that it might be too spicy; “We don’t want to blow your head off with spice-it’s all about the balance of flavors,” said Kevin Erskine, owner and founder of Coelacanth Brewing.
“We’ve wanted to do an authentic Mexican beer for some time,” said Erskine, and he called his friend Fernando Bayardo, owner of Cerveceria Artesanal Roberta, whom he met while attending the American Brewer’s Guild Brewing School in Vermont. After several conversations via Skype, the two came up with the concept of Contra el Muro.
The pair had a hard time coming up with the name, and there was a lot of back and forth discussion; naming the beer after Frida Khalo was debated, but Fernando thought it was too overused. Ultimately, “we tried not to be overly political; you can read into it what you want without being overt,” commented Erskine.
The beer is in the tanks right now, and Bayardo has yet to taste the brew and remarked, “now if I could just figure out a way to have some of the beer sent to Mexico!” Fortunately, Erskine spoke with the Virginia Department of Agriculture, which oversees breweries in the state, and is working on a way to get some of the beer sent to Bayardo.
However, this beer is more than just a clever partnership. The proceeds from the beer will be given to Operation Smile, a nonprofit medical service organization headquartered in Virginia Beach that provides cleft lip and palate repair surgeries to children worldwide. Erskine notes that “this is a great fit since the organization has an upcoming mission in Mexico,” and although he has worked with several charities, this is the first time the brewery has done something on this scale.
As Erskine puts it, “it’s really all about helping people.”