Beer Review: Desperados

THE one and only time I tried Tequila, I spent the rest of the night, and the next day either vomiting or wretching. It’s with more than a little trepidation then, that I approach my next beer from the Latin world: Desperados.

How bad can it be? Innis & Gunn Oak Aged Beer tasted of whisky, and I thoroughly enjoyed that beer even though just the smell of whisky makes me wince. And with Sol, Damm Estrella and Corona Extra hardly delighting, it isn’t up against tough competition.

Desperados bottle

First impressions are that it is sticking to the Mexican formula. The glass is clear. There’s no real neck label. And what labels there are, are mostly transparent. All of which lets you glimpse the orangey-yellow liquid within. I do like the embossed “Desperados” etched onto one side of the bottle though.

The front label is something to behold.

Desperados front label

The wild-west “Desperados” name. The typeface. The surrounding graphics. It’s the Leslie Nielson of Mexican beer labels. As if someone picked the cheesiest elements they thought summed up the old wild-west. At least I hope it is a parody. If not, it’s just plain cheesy.

The things that look like medals across the top of the label, aren’t. The word “Beer” is repeated in five different languages, cluttering the label horribly. But under that is the interesting part. That this beer is “flavoured with” Tequila. Not only that, but this 33cl bottle has a volume o 5.9%. Above average and a very welcome sight.

Sadly, on closer inspection, there’s some bad news. At the bottom of the front label we learn where this beer originates. And no, it’s not from any country where they speak Spanish. Not even Portuguese. This beer was brewed in France. Still a mostly Latin people, but a disappointment none the less.

Over on the back label, and predictably, we are treated to another huge, multilingual block of text.

Desperados back label

That means that there isn’t much to read. The brewer is the appallingly named H Entreprise-BP. This little bottle has 1.95 UK units of alcohol. Or 1.6 units of some unidentified European alcohol uniting system.

Normally the ingredients are boring. Usually there isn’t even more than “malted barley” printed somewhere. But this time, it’s worth at least a glance. This one gives the full list: “water, malted barley, glucose syrup, corn, sugar, aromatic compounds (75% Tequila), citric acid, hop extract”. That was worth the few seconds of your day it took to read because it shows just how little Tequila there is in it. Hardly any. Yet enough of that, and other unusual ingredients to, hopefully, ensure that this has some character.

So does Desperados have character? Will it have flavour? And will it be an improvement on the Latin world beers I’ve tried before it? Time to answer some questions…

Desperados poured into a glass

First thing you’ll notice is the head. It’s uncontrollable. And it takes a while to die down. So be prepared for either patience or a foam moustache.

The smell is good. It has all the distinctiveness I was hoping for. Not being too familiar with the smell of Tequila (I’ve intentionally purged it from my memory), it nevertheless smells good. Mostly of citrus, with the hint of alcohol and beer ingredients. Imagine a combination of Jif Lemon surface cleaner and a run of the mill regular beer.

First gulp in, and I’m very pleasantly surprised. I was expecting to find it vile and disgusting. But it simply isn’t. The flavours that you’ll notice most are citrusy and tangy. There is a slightly sour aftertaste too. It is surprisingly similar to the way a good quality lemon and line soft-drink would taste. And the result is refreshing. And most importantly, easy to drink. Amazing considering that this is nearly 6% in volume. The £1.29 pence price makes it pretty good value, too.

There are downsides however. It doesn’t taste natural at all. More like an alco-pop, which as we all know, are as natural as Gordon Brown’s smile. Then there’s the head. It has died down enough to be drinkable by this stage. But it does make pouring it almost impossible. One to drink from the bottle probably. Which is probably what will happen at most student parties where this will end up. You can’t hide from how gassy it is, either. Also, even though I liked the strong-ish, fake-tasting citrus flavours, not everyone will. I would be surprised if this gains more than a cult following.

How can I sum up Desperados? Well, it is a unique (as far as I know) beer with an unusual, if low-quality taste that I enjoyed. If you like experimenting with unusual beers, this is definitely one to try. I’ll buy it again, but not very often.

Rating: 3.6

Have you tried Desperados? Or anything from the same brewer? Or even any other Tequila tinged beers?
If so, then leave your corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas, suggestions and requests here. And look out for more reviews soon.

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6 Responses to “Beer Review: Desperados”

  1. Paul Garrard Says:

    When I had my beer shop we used to sell this stuff by the case load. It was very popular with snow-boarders for some reason!
    Personally I didn’t like the stuff, cheap ingredients and a taste that reflects that.

    P.S. Hywel haven’t forgotten I owe you an e-mail will send soon – 2 location living is taking its toll!

  2. Jing Says:

    Enjoy your blog since I’m doing a study about “Desperados”. Do you know where I can buy it in the states? Thank you very much

  3. Entropy Says:

    I’ve always drunk this with a wedge of lime stuck in the bottle neck, and it’s not bad that way.

  4. jwow Says:

    It is actually a French beer… You can even see it in the pictures you took… Don’t be fooled by the Latin sounding name it is just a trick.
    France is known for doing that.

  5. Despie_addict Says:

    Something ridiculously refreshing and thirst quenching about this drink, even if it does have what could be considered a ‘cheap’ taste. Something about the bitterness of the beer in combination with the lemony flavour really works.

  6. tenpack99 Says:

    Nice article! Been drinking Desperados for years, since you were only able to get it in the UK by mail order! I was intrdouced to it by a mate who advised me it was 5.9% but tasted like the old cans of Shandy Bass you used to drink when you weren’t old enough to have a real drink but your parents let you ‘have some’ thinking it was a good introduction to real beer!

    Anyway, after one gulp, he was right it did taste like Shandy Bass, easy on the palette but not necessarily easy on keeping you sober for long! Needelsss to say, even though it is so nice and easy to drink, I tend to use it as a treat and not one for a full night out!

    And now for the bizarre bit, recently a friend of mine suggested that if you give it a sniff out of the bottle, it has a bit of a weed smell about it which again I have found to be true. And with a uncannily looking leaf on the bottom of the front of the label, she is suspicious of what actually is in it?! :) Better check those ingredients out again!

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