Oculto – Tequila Inspired Beer


In our 2015 Spirit and Alcohol Trends Predictions, we forecasted that 2015 will be a huge year for agave-based spirits (including both Tequila and Mezcal). While we rarely review non-distilled spirits on Drink Spirits, we felt it important to take a look at Anheuser-Busch InBev’s new agave inspired release, Oculto. This isn’t the first time a major beer company has tried its hand at a spirits-inspired beer. MillerCoors released Fortune in early 2014, a spirits-inspired beer that ended up coming off more like a malt liquor than a beer.

The important thing about Oculto is that it’s an acknowledgment by one of the biggest beer companies in the world that the tequila market is important enough to launch a beer connected to the category. Oculto is a light style lager blended with beer that’s been aged on tequila barrel staves. This doesn’t mean it’s been barrel aged, it means that it’s had some staves soaked in it. The beer is also infused with blue agave and other natural flavors.

Oculto Beer (6% ABV) – On the nose, this beer is light and malty, very much in line with a Mexican style light lager. Along with the malt, there’s lime and agave syrup. There really isn’t much of a contribution from the tequila staves on the nose – there are neither the vegetal nor pepper notes from the tequila nor the oak. Tequila barrels are often used to the point of becoming very neutral, and odds are this beer has staves from a fairly neutral tequila barrel. It doesn’t really add much to the equation, other than to say that it’s been in wood that at some point touched tequila.

On the palate, agave syrup mingles with the light malt and lime. This sweetened, flavored lager lives very much in the world of Bud Light with Lime – the flavors here perhaps are a little more true, but it drinks like a flavored beer. In the core of the palate on this beer is a Pez candy note. It’s off-putting and doesn’t fit within the character of this beer.

Toward the finish is the briefest sense of the wood. It reads as a very slight bitterness. Again, there really isn’t anything resembling tequila flavors. The finish on Oculto is light malt, lime, and a lingering agave sweetness.

The addition of the sweetness to what should be a light and crisp style beer doesn’t add anything to the mix. It feels forced. Oculto is, unfortunately, a gimmick beer. It has a great brand and it’s an interesting idea, but it never really delivers. You’re much better off getting a light style lager like Tecate, Corona, or even a Budweiser with a shot of tequila, rather than an agave-sweetened beer that’s touched tequila staves. 73 Points.

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+Geoff Kleinman, is the founder, and managing editor of DrinkSpirits.com. He is a nationally recognized spirits columnist and staff reviewer for Whisky Advocate Magazine. Geoff’s work has appeared in dozens of major magazines including Playboy Magazine, Black Book, and Mixology Magazine. He is a current sitting judge for the Ultimate Spirits Challenge, the founder of the Society of Modern Journalists, holds BAR certification from the Beverage Alcohol Resource Group, is a Certified Cognac Educator, and a Kentucky Colonel

  • unfaded

    I’m tasting this while I type and its not what I expected. Its a bad attempt at tequila lime beer. After saying that out loud it sounds like it tastes. Lime beer or shock top has its place, this is neither. I’m not a hater but I won’t get another can of this.

  • [Unsigned Artist]

    Tried it today. Great beer for a summer BBQ

  • InthusiG

    On occasion I treasure a shot of high quality smooth tequila after a meal and although I cherish a good beer at the end of a hard work day I rarely ever buy anything lite. When the waitress at a classy Mexican restaurant encouraged us to try Oculto, I said a flat no. My wife though thought it sounded good and ordered one for us to split. The first sip tasted a bit watery an kind of odd to me but because there was more in my glass I had a few more swallows with the chips and salsa. By the end of my half glass it had grown on me and paired excellently with the food. My wife and I have worked as chefs and enjoy discussing the layers of flavors. We both could taste an essence of tequila and the agava gave Oculto a very fruity flavor. I would never want one of these beers on its own but must say we both enjoyed it with our meal and ordered a second bottle to split. i was just looking for a place to buy a six pack for my wife when i saw the link to this page.

  • Bacon Nivison

    I’ve read a lot, mostly negative, in various web ports, but I’m drinking it right now, and I’m surprised. This one is a Utah beer kool-aid version (3.2) but it’s surprisingly tasty. It looks yeasty, a layer on the bottom, but it isn’t yeast. Very clean, light pilsner style beer. Unusual character. Most AB products rub me the wrong way. tolerable but far from impressive. This one is quite a surprise. Thumbs up…

  • Melba Newme Webster

    I got turned on to this beer at a friends house about two years ago and I LOVVVVVVVVVVE IT. Never knew the name so I just go in Food Lion and look for the skull and then I know I got what im looking for. lol. Im a ICEHOUSE lady but this beer just made me put ICEHOUSE DOWN. I would they would give us more than just a 6 pack but the price of them is LOVE. Thank you for sharing such a fine Malt with the WORLD.