Review: Karbach Cerveza Especial, Crawford Bock, and Ranch Water Seltzers

Review: Karbach Cerveza Especial, Crawford Bock, and Ranch Water Seltzers

Houston’s Karbach doesn’t just make beer, it also cranks out a variety of popular canned Ranch Waters, four in all, based on the Texas-favorite blend of tequila, sparkling water, and lime. Mind you, the canned Ranch Waters are all made from malt beverages — not tequila — and are sweetened with a combination of cane sugar, agave, and monk fruit extract — some of which you are likely to taste as you sip on them.

With that, let’s dive in to some of Karbach’s most popular offerings.

Karbach Cerveza Especial Mexican-Style Lager – This sure does fit the bill, offering  a clean and uncomplicated drinking experience that is cracker-crisp and feels tailor-made for dosing with a squeeze of lime. It doesn’t really need one, however, as the light lemon and hints of sweetness give the beer a pleasant, cleansing quality from start to finish, with next to no alcohol to get in the way. Summertime beach/boat/pool beers — you got it. 4.5% abv. A-

Karbach Crawford Bock – The bar you’re at doesn’t have Shiner? Good news, Crawford Bock — named for the Crawford Boxes at the Houston Astros’ Minute Maid Park — is a good facsimile, offering a malty, bready quality that rumbles its way toward graham crackers and gingerbread. Chewy with vague coconut and almond notes on the finish, it’s less leathery than Shiner and a bit sweeter, with lingering vanilla on the otherwise clean finish. 4.5% abv. B+

Karbach Ranch Water Hard Seltzer Original Lime – This does taste a lot like a “real” ranch water cocktail, offering lime and a slight salinity, though it’s definitely sweeter than you’d expect from the drink. That’s probably for the best, as a standard ranch water is missing a little something in my book, though this rendition takes things just a touch too far. The finish has that slightly funky, malty quality to it that reminds you you’re drinking a seltzer, but not in a way that offends. 4.5% abv. B

Karbach Ranch Water Hard Seltzer Agave Meyer Lemon – Ranch water always benefits from lots of citrus, and Meyer lemon makes plenty of sense if you’re tired of the standard lime. The orange-adjacent quality of the Meyer lemon combined with a stronger saline hook gives the drink a Paloma-like character on its more bracing, sweet-and-sour palate. A bit saccharine on the finish, however. 4.5% abv. B

Karbach Ranch Water Hard Seltzer Agave Watermelon – Watermelon-flavored anything rarely tastes much like watermelon, but this seltzer at least pulls off the Jolly Rancher tip reasonably well enough. Again it’s fairly salty, though that helps to cut through some of the candylike sweetness that can otherwise dominate. Lightly industrial on the finish, but not noxious. 4.5% abv. B-

Karbach Ranch Water Hard Seltzer Agave Prickly Pear – Prickly pear isn’t normally I flavor I gravitate to, but in this seltzer it works, pairing with the lime to create a cohesive whole that is just short of candylike with its citrus-meets-stone fruit quality. Less abrasive than the other Ranch Water offerings on its finish, with an echo of bubblegum lingering. 4.5% abv. B+

each $10 per six-pack /

Karbach Cerveza Especial Mexican-Style Lager




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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