When most Australians think of Mexican beer, they think of the brand Corona, which is made in a handful of breweries around the country and shipped all around the world. But despite having a 3,000-year history in Mexico and being a much-loved drink in the country, tepache, a type of beer, is far less known.
Originating on the streets of Mexico, tepache (pronounced te-par-shey) is a fermented drink slightly milder than Kombucha. While tepache is made from fermented fruit, Kombucha is made from fermented tea. Tepache combines pineapple and cinnamon, often spicy, to create a drink that has very little alcohol, usually about 2% ABV.
As a fermented drink, tepache contains some probiotics that work to keep the food bacteria in your gut healthy, help with digestion and support your immune system. The fermentation process also boosts the vitamin content of tepache, so it offers more nutritional benefits than fresh pineapple offers.
You can drink tepache fresh from a can, pour it over ice in a fancy glass, or use it to mix with a mezcal or tequila. It was made available in Australia in 2019 with kombucha brand Remedy offering a non-alcoholic version. Remedy co-founders, Sarah and Emmet Condon, discovered it while experimenting with live cultured, fruity ferments.
“There are so many interesting and exciting fermenting traditions from around the world that we’ve explored and Mexico produces some really delicious, refreshing, fruit-based brews,” Emmet said in 2019 in a statement.
He said the new drink was made by fermenting organic pineapple juice with live Remedy culture and cinnamon. All sugar was brewed out in the process, creating a tropical, crisp drink with a hint of spice.
Australian independent brewery Modus Brewery is the first to launch spiked tepache, available at Dan Murphy’s, BWS and select independent retailers from October 16, 2023.
“Australians have seen a wave of seltzers and new RTDs over the past few years, so I think it’s only the next step for them to look beyond and discover other interesting beverages from around the world,” says W Jaz Wearin, co-founder of Modus.
“Tepache is currently a trending beverage in the US, and people are discovering this style of drink for the first time. It’s a great match with our hot, salty summer and Aussies’ love of fresh, tropical fruits.”
Like with Modus’ other drinks, their tepache is made with sustainability in mind. All ingredients used are natural and sourced directly from Aussie farmers. All elements of the pineapple are used in the drink so none of it is wasted.
“When I got into brewing over a decade ago, I knew that supporting Aussie farmers needed to be a core focus for the Modus brand,” says Wearin. “In the same way brewers rely on favourable weather conditions to get the best malt and hops they can, these farmers feel the effects triple-fold.”
Modus’ tepache is brewed with Queensland sun-ripened fermented pineapple and cinnamon, a recipe inspired by the way it’s made by traditional Mexican street vendors. Just like grain is used to brew beer, tepache is brewed using pineapple, and fermented for several days before cinnamon is added to give it tartness and fizz.
“We have also been able to achieve a gluten-free, less-than-90-calorie, lower-in-sugar alcoholic beverage, which really has the pineapple on top,” says Wearin.
Could tepache soon be as well known as kombucha? It’s certainly looking that way.