There are some great Mexican beers out there, and even some of the better known beers from Mexico are not without their merits. You just have to know where to look and you need to know what you are looking for. You are not, for example, going to find a world-class Sour Ale made in Chiapas. You might, however, find an amber lager that will become your new go-to brew. Let’s take a little closer of a look at some of the Mexican beers you might be overlooking.
And yes, Pacifico is on the list too, basically because if we had a Top 5 Mexican Beers list without either Pacifico or Corona we know people would look at us cockeyed. See, it’s not that Pacifico is a bad beer. In fact, it’s very refreshing and what light taste it does offer is certainly pleasant. It’s just that it is so far from unique that we had to debate whether to put it or Corona in as the honorary anchor to the list. In a veritable toss up, Pacifico wins because its brown glass bottles offer more protection against the skunk-effect of sunlight than Corona’s iconic clear bottles. Light malt, low ABV, light hops, etc. You know this beer; we know this beer; adios.
4 Carta Blanca
Carta Blanca is on here because it is just what you’d expect from a Mexican beer without that at all meant to imply anything negative: it is a light, refreshing lager with a simple balance of malt and hops and an ABV below 5%. You can (and maybe you should every now and then…) sip this beer all day and not find yourself much worse for the wear. It’s not as easy to find as, say, Corona, but it is a better bet when you can find it.
3 Dos Equis Amber
This beer is similar to Negra Modelo in that it is in a style very much reminiscent of European beers (the brewery got its start with a German brewmaster, so go figure). It is light enough in body and ABV to be a session beer yet has enough toasty malt flavor and hop backbone to accompany a meal or to stand on its own. The fact that at most retailers Dos Equis is priced to sell doesn’t hurt either. And yes, its pitchman is awesome.
2 Bohemian Lager
Bohemian Lager is a beer that you could be forgiven for thinking was not Mexican at all. You might think it was from, oh I dunno… The Czech Republic, for some reason? Just throwing it out there. But no, this very German-tasting Pilsner is very Mexican. It is also a fine standard bearer for its style. Pilsners are ideally light in hue and on the tongue, have a nice crisp floral hop presence that is never overbearing but is quite refreshing, and have a neutral-to-light malt body underpinning said hops. Bohemia Lager? Check for all of it.
1 Negra Modelo
We lead off with a rather obvious choice: Negra Modelo. But we feel it is justified by the confluence of two factors: it’s a pretty good beer and there is a pretty good chance one is available at a store or bar within a stone’s throw of you (unless you don’t live within a stone’s throw of a store or bar, in which case sucks to be you). NegraModelo is a dark lager, almost similar to a Dunkel or Vienna style, but a bit lighter in body than you would expect from those Old Continent beers. There is a light toasted element to the malt of the body and the hops play a minor supporting role, but definitely add there say to make for a tasty and refreshing brew.
Now you are ready to whip up some flautas accompanied by the right brew or to impress your friends by ordering an obscure Mexican offering. Or you could just try Bohemia if you’ve never had it. That’s reason enough in and of itself, we think.