The cult section of the literary world

Thirsty Thursday: Negra Modelo

by Ross E. Lockhart

I’m just back from the H. P. Lovecraft Film Festival in Portland, Oregon, where I had a blast, saw some incredible flicks, and had a number of amazing conversations with friends new and old. And while Portland is a food and beer Mecca (more on that in the next few weeks), I did have a little difficulty finding decent Mexican food, ending up with a plate of cheese enchiladas at one place that seemed to be sculpted entirely out of cheese (just listen to those arteries harden), and (on the other end of the scale) raw vegan nachos at another, smothered in cashew cheese, which I’m pretty much certain were constructed entirely out of mixed nuts, salsa, and cilantro. But that salsa… oh, it was exquisite.

At one point, I found myself talking lucha libre with Silvia Moreno Garcia, publisher of Innsmouth Free Press, whose story “Flash Frame” (a tale of yellow decadence set in a Mexico City porno theater) I reprinted in The Book of Cthulhu. And of course, when talking about luchadors, one must invoke El Santo, the silver-masked wrestler and folk hero who stared in somewhere in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty films, in which he took on vampire women, Frankenstein-esque monsters, mad scientists, gangsters, and, of course, other wrestlers, including Blue Demon and Mil Máscaras. If you haven’t seen an El Santo flick, you’re in for a treat…

El Santo vs. Las Mujeres Vampiro

I grew up in San Diego, in a time where you had six television channels to choose from, two of which were in Spanish. So by default, I grew up watching El Santo flicks. My personal favorite is El Santo vs Blue Demon in Atlantis, which made me want to live in a world of world of muscle cars, dragonfly-shaped helicopters, jazzy organ soundtracks, femmes fatal, and luchadors pummeling the hell out of one another. Many purists, however, prefer El Santo vs Las Momias de Guanajuato, which teams up El Santo, Blue Demon, and Mil Máscaras in a comic-book-style adventure against vengeful mummies…

El Santo vs Las Momias de Guanajuato

El Santo died of a heart attack in February of 1984, one week after removing his mask on live television and revealing his face to the world. Coincidence or curse? You be the judge.

So tonight, I’m having a Negra Modelo, a Mexican take on a Munich Dunkel Lager. This one is a personal favorite, and is generally easy to find at better Mexican restaurants. Plus, it pairs quite well with a lucha libre movie marathon.

Negra Modelo pours a translucent copper with a finger of tan head and minimal lacing. Caramel and brown sugar on the nose, with a bready, yeasty backbone, and notes of chocolate and dried fruit. Sweet malt on the tip of the tongue, with taste following scent: caramel, brown sugar, and molasses dominate, with toasted nuts and lager yeast becoming more present as the beer warms. Medium bodied, with light carbonation. Clean finish, with a lasting suggestion of fruitiness. Refreshing and thirst-quenching, and at 5.4% ABV, extremely sessionable. Goes very well with a nice mole.

Suggested literary pairings, with body slamming action:

Gigantic Death Worm, by Vince Kramer. Schlocky, action-packed survival horror featuring a giant killer mescal worm, Mexican ninjas, and wolf-spitting bears.

Armadillo Fists, by Carlton Mellick III. Psycho June Howard, the former underground boxer who had her hands replaced with living armadillos, is on the run from a group of gangsters who believe she is responsible for the death of their boss.

Spin the Sky, by Katy Stauber. A Tex-Mex take on The Odyssey… in space! Cesar Vaquero has returned to Ithaca, a rugged orbital colony boasting the only herd of cattle in space, and a wife and son who don’t even recognize him when he shows up at their doorstep.

Hellboy Volume 11: The Bride of Hell and Others, by Mike Mignola. Featuring the story, “Hellboy in Mexico, or, A Drunken Blur” here, Big Red takes on a vampire luchador. El Santo would be proud.

Ross E. Lockhart is the managing editor of Night Shade Books. A lifelong fan of supernatural, fantastic, speculative, and weird fiction, he holds degrees in English from Sonoma State University (BA) and San Francisco State University (MA). In 2011, he edited the acclaimed anthology The Book of Cthulhu. He lives in an old church in Petaluma, CA, with his wife Jennifer, hundreds of books, and the conspicuous absence of dog. Visit him online at

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