Beer of the Week: Xingu Brazilian Black Beer

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Unrepentant beer drinkers, rejoice! Each week, Clean Plate Charlie will select one craft or import beer and give you the lowdown on it: How does it taste? What should you drink it with? Where can you find it? But mostly, it's all about the love of the brew. If you have a beer you'd like featured in Beer of the Week, let us know via a comment.

One thing about South and Central American beers: They tend to be similar. Pretty much all the cusquenos, caballeros, aguilas, and imperials of the world are modeled after the same German/Czech lager recipes (the same ones that have been distorted in the U.S. by Bud, Miller, and Coors). And yes, that formula does taste good with some South American foods (dried corn and ceviche, for example). But not much else. If there's any creativity going on in the South American beer market, we're not really seeing it stateside.

There's an exception to every rule, and yesterday I found it. It's called Xingu (pronounced: shin-goo), a black lager from Brazil that recently appeared in liquor stores and some craft retailers. I picked up a six-pack of the stuff at ABC Liquors, let it chill a while, and poured a glass.

Xingu, like other dark lagers, tempers the flavor and richness of dark malt with the smooth drinkability of a light lager. But it also has a sort of fruity, corn-like funkiness that you don't typically find in dark beers. That's because the recipe is actually a mixture of European brew technique and native Amazonian tradition. The body, a dark black ruby color, is nonetheless clear like a lager. The head is foamy with big, soapy bubbles. The mouth feel, light and smooth, gives way to chocolate, roasted coffee, and sour fruit. And it's all accompanied by a persistently refreshing amount of carbonation -- a mouth-buzzing rarity in a dark beer.

At 4.7 percent alcohol, Xingu won't leave you flat either. It's a South American beer that breaks from the plain-Jane lager tradition and adds something new as a result. Pick it up in six-packs ($10) from ABC Liquors.

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