Mexicans have been fermenting grains to make beer since at least the time of the Aztecs, and since Europeans first ventured to the New World, Mexican beer brewing has only expanded. Today, Mexico’s beer market is dominated by the “Big Two” corporations that supply over 90% of the beer in Mexico, so if you’re considering adding Mexican beer to your restaurant menu (or just adding more variety), you’ll need to know what beers they sell.
The Big Two
The big two Mexican beer corporations are Cerveceria Modelo (Grupo Modelo) and Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma (FEMSA). In case you’re curious, “Cuauhtémoc” is pronounced “kwow-TAY-mahk.” We’ve complied a list of the most popular beers that the Big Two sell, along with descriptions to better prepare you for your beer menu expansion. And yes, of course you may use these descriptions on your digital beer menu.
Grupo Modelo and Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma make a lot of beers that you will recognize the names of, you just may not have known their classifications and descriptions before this post.
Cerveceria Modelo (Grupo Modelo)
Corona Extra is a light lager pilsner that is mild and refreshing, with just a hint of hops. It is the top-selling Mexican beer abroad, and it is also the largest-selling non-domestic beer in the US.
Negra Modelo is known as the “cream of the beers” in Mexico. It’s a dark, very smooth brew that goes down easy. It is heavily carbonated and resembles Dr. Pepper when poured into a glass, but it is a balanced and refreshing mix of hops and malt.
Modelo Especial is a pilsner that has a richer, fuller taste than Corona. The rich taste is due to its hard-hitting hops. It’s not too carbonated, not too dark (it’s golden), and its defining feature is that it is very drinkable.
Victoria is classified as a Vienna lager and what sets it apart is its deep, caramel color. Its flavor reflects that it is a mix of light pilsner and dark beer: it smells malty but the flavor is very mild.
Pacífico is a light, pilsner-type beer with a mild flavor and very heavy carbonation.
Cerveceria Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma (FEMSA)
Sol is a light lager with a light yellow color and a mild smell and taste.
Tecate is a medium lager with a light hops taste and very little carbonation. It was the first beer in Mexico to be canned.
Dos Equis (XX) Amber Lager is a light lager with a rich amber color, mild carbonation and a mild taste. It is really hard to describe this beer without making absurd references to the Most Interesting Man in the World.
Bohemia is like Modelo Especial. It’s a light, rich lager that is hoppy, as well as dense yet clear at the same time.
Carta Blanca is a pilsner that is light yellow and has a mild malty flavor. It is one of Mexico’s oldest beers, having been around since 1890.
In 2003, Mexico became the world leader for total beer production, which was right before America starting making huge leaps in the craft beer market. Because the Big Two are so, well, big, craft breweries tend not to get much traction in Mexico. As a good rule of thumb, the Big Two tend to market pilsners, lagers, Vienna-style light and dark beers and Munich dark beers, but any ales that you find from Mexico have probably been brewed in a Mexican craft brewery.
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