If you’ve ever spent a summer in Chicago or visited a Latin American country, you’re probably familiar with “paletas,” or Spanish popsicles. A person named a paletero wheels a pushcart vending the cool treats throughout the streets, and in Chicago, they can be found in neighborhoods and at the Lakefront. Outside of Chicago and Latin America, they’re sometimes sold in Mexican grocery stores. The paletas are either dairy or water-based, with a little sugar added, and mixed with fresh fruit, especially more exotic fruits indigenous to Central America like guava and tamarind.
Bedford, Illinois (30 minutes outside of Chicago) brewery 5 Rabbit Cerveceria touts themselves as the first Latin brewery in the U.S. The name of the brewery comes from Aztec mythology, and founder Andrés Araya hails from Costa Rica, so he knows a thing or two about Latin traditions. 5 Rabbit beers can be found all over Chicago and in their taproom, and currently six-packs are retailed in Southwestern Ohio and in Florida. Every season since the brewery opened in 2011, they’ve made paleta beers. Every year they brew a few different flavors and vow to never repeat themselves, and so far they haven’t. This season kicked off in March, and the flavors are guayaba (guava), and sandía (watermelon).
You might recognize the 5 Rabbit name—the brewery got sucked into an incident with Trump a couple of months ago. 5 Rabbit was crafting a special beer for his Chicago Trump Tower’s Rebar lounge, until the “weird hair one” opened his mouth and regurgitated a bunch of racist things about Mexicans. Incensed, naturally, 5 Rabbit pulled out of the deal and sold their special beer elsewhere.
Forget Trump, let’s talk paleta beer. The packaging for the paleta beer is simple, and the cap features a psychedelic Donnie Darko-esque rabbit swirl design, so I was half expecting the paleta to actually contain traces of ayahuasca (it does not). I cracked open a bottle of the guayaba, which is wheat-based and uses pilsner malts and some oats. Paletas are only 3.5% alcohol, and taste like a soda. The guava flavor’s light and refreshing, and surprisingly, the beer’s not terribly sweet. It’s sessionable, and versatile: you can drink it straight, pour it over rocks, or make an ice cream float out of it. Could you conceivably make an actual paleta out of 5 Rabbit’s paleta beer? Yes you can. Just mix the beer with a little lime juice and sugar, pour the liquid into an ice cube tray, and voila, you have frozen beer paletas.
As 5 Rabbit’s website remarks, the paletas are “a more sophisticated alternative to one-dimensional shandies and radlers,” so instead of drinking an oh-so-overdone grapefruit infused beer, try a paleta instead—just don’t think about Trump while drinking it.