Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Got a Summer Charmer In Neato Bandito.
Welcome to On Tap! Each week in this recurring feature, we'll take an in-depth look at one of the many beers now available in the suddenly crowded North Texas brew scene. The goal here is to look at these area beers without our local goggles on and to wonder aloud, “Is this beer good or do I just like it because it's local?” Should be a fun experiment, no? Cheers to that!
This week, we sipped on Deep Ellum Brewing Co.'s Neato Bandito.
Fast Facts on Deep Ellum Neato Bandito.
• Style: Czech-Inspired Mexican-Style Lager (Specialty Beer).
• ABV: 6.6 percent.
• International Bitterness Units (IBUs): 18.
• Color: Deep golden straw.
• Availability: Seasonal.
Neato Bandito is Deep Ellum's summer seasonal offering. Billed as a “Czech-Inspired, Mexican-Style Lager,” Neato is essentially Deep Ellum's take on the popular Mexican Lager (think Corona or Dos Equis), only they've added some Munich 10L malt, which should add a bit of toasty bread character to the finished beer.
In addition, Deep Ellum makes mention of using quite a bit of corn in the beer. Corn is an adjunct ingredient (basically any source of starch in a beer that isn't malted) that often gets a bad rap in the craft brewing world due to its heavy use in macro American lagers (Miller, Coors, etc.) with less than potent flavor profiles.
That said, corn is great for lightening the body, flavor and color of a beer, and can produce a sweet, smooth flavor. If the goal is to brew a light-bodied, approachable summer sipper — especially if your primary sales market is the oven known as North Texas — these become very desirable flavor components.
Still, though, light lagers — be they the Mexican or American variety — are tough to pull off, especially within the confines of a craft brewery, where customers tend to expect fuller-flavored, higher-quality brews than the $12-dollars-for-30-beers varieties found in most grocery stores.
Background on Czech-Inspired Mexican-Style Lagers.
There really is not a good BJCP style guideline for a Czech-Inspired Mexican-Style Lager, so we'll place this under the Specialty Beer category. Basically this means that the brewer has quite a bit of latitude to brew whatever he wants, and the beer is judged on balance, flavor and ability to showcase different flavors and techniques.
Neato Bandito pours a deep golden straw with a very thick, bubbly white head that quickly recedes into a thin film across the top of the beer. Style-wise, it looks like a slightly darker, more deeply colored light lager.
This beer won't be winning any awards for it's aroma. But, then again, that's not exactly the point of this beer. There's lots of the corn on the nose with a bit of stale grain. There's a bit of a vegetative undertone, too. Try hard enough, and there's some slight herbal spice to be had from the Northern Brewer and Magnum hops.
For a light lager, it's surprising to find some great bitterness upfront. While the beer only sports a miniscule 18 IBUs, due its light body and lighter, corn-boosted grain bill, these IBUs come across much stronger than their measured numbers would imply. After the initial bitterness fades, expect to enjoy herbal, grassy hop flavors and a balanced, delicate malt sweetness.
Neato Bandito has a quite light and refreshing mouthfeel, with slightly elevated levels of carbonation. There's nothing keeping you from enjoying this beer — and quickly.
It's actually surprising how enjoyable this beer can be.
With Neato Bandito, Deep Ellum has tackled a style of beer that is frequently one of the most boring out thee and injected some much-needed flavor. While Deep Ellum bills the beer as a Czech-Inspired Mexican-Style Lager, the hop bitterness and flavors seem much more Czech than Mexican. Even the deeper golden and amber color tones scream Czech Pilsner. Were the malt components dialed up a bit, it'd almost be a ringer for that style. The Mexican elements, as it were, seem to come into play mostly with the corn addition, which significantly reduces the body and malt flavors.
Neato Bandito is a beer that seems tailor-made to enjoyed by the pool during a typical North Texas summer. It's light, refreshing and flavorful, and it'd be easy to enjoy multiple in a single sitting.
Still, despite a generally successful effort, the beer certainly lacks an appealing aroma, and — let's face it — light lagers are just always going to be a boring style.
All that said, Neato Bandito could very well wind up as your next go-to poolside brew.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I'll give Deep Ellum Neato Bandito an 8.
What's happening in the area beer scene this week? (Powered by Dallas Brew Scene.)
• Friday, June 27. Odell Beer Dinner at Cook Hall.
• Friday, July 4. Red, White and Brew at Cobra Brewing Co..
• Friday, July 4. Two-Year Anniversary Bash at Cedar Creek Brewery.
Previous On Tap Reviews:
• Peticolas' Royal Scandal: 10.
• Community's Mosaic IPA: 10.
• Peticolas' Velvet Hammer: 10.
• Community's Ascension Porter: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Temptress: 9.5.
• Lakewood's Goatman: 9.5.
• Community's Public Ale: 9.5.
• Peticolas' Thrillla in Brazilla: 9.5.
• Revolver's Blood & Honey: 9.
• Martin House's Imperial Texan: 9.
• Community's Trinity Tripel: 9.
• Peticolas' Irish Goodbye: 9.
• Four Corners' Block Party Porter: 9.
• Cedar Creek's Belgian Dubbel: 9.
• Deep Ellum's Oak Cliff Coffee Ale: 8.5.
• Rahr's Bourbon Barrel Aged Winter Warmer: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Raspberry Temptress: 8.5.
• Lakewood's Punkel: 8.
• Four Corners' El Chingon IPA: 8.
• Martin House's Day Break: 8.
• Deep Ellum's GOURDzilla: 8.
• Peticolas' The Duke (Aged 12 Months): 8.
• Peticolas' Wintervention: 8.
• Armadillo Ale Works' Brunch Money: 8.
• Martin House's Rubberneck Red: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Antigoon's Revenge: 7.5.
• Community's Texas Pils: 7.5.
• Lakewood's Zomer Pils: 7.5.
• Cedar Creek's Dankosaurus: 7.5.
• Deep Ellum IPA: 7.
• Cedar Creek’s The Lawn Ranger: 7.
• Lakewood's Till & Toil: 7.
• 903 Brewers' The Chosen One: 7.
• Martin House's Gateway XPA: 7.
• Armadillo Ale Work's Quakertown Stout: 7.
• Community's Pale Ale: 7.
• Peticolas' The Duke: 6.5.
• Deep Ellum's Double Brown Stout : 6.5.
• Cedar Creek's Elliott's Phoned Home Pale Ale: 6
• Grapevine Craft Brewery's Lakefire: 6
• Lakewood's La Dame Du Lac: 5.5.
• Franconia Wheat: 3.
• Miller Lite: 1.