The 12 Best Mexican Beer Brands to Drink in 2023
Mexican beer is rising in popularity in the US as Americans look for a more interesting light beer than Bud Light or Coors. The low ABV makes it easy to enjoy and the citrus notes are refreshing in the heat.
| Read Time: 12 minutes
History of Mexican Beer
Beer and Mexico have a long history together. The Mexican-lager came onto the scene in 1821 after the Mexican War of Independence. But before that, the first-ever European-style brewery in North America was started by Don Alonso de Herrera of Spain, who opened the brewery in Najara in 1542. The origins of Mexican lager don’t have a super clear history but share many characteristics with the Vienna lager. The reason for this is the German and Austrian immigrants that settled in what is now Southern Texas and Northern Mexico.
Both the Mexican and Vienna lagers are light beers with crisp flavors that don’t have much bite. But when the Dos Equis brewery opened, originally called Siglo XX, the malty, amber-colored beer quickly grew in popularity. Germans and Austrians moved away from these copper-colored lagers and favored the light lagers, but Mexican residents embraced the new beer.
So the Mexican-lager was established as these light or copper-colored brews with crisp, refreshing flavors. And since then, Americans have begun to embrace this style of beer, and it has become extremely popular in bars and liquor stores in the states.
Definition of Mexican Beer
There is sometimes debate over what Mexican beer is, but generally, it is categorized as a light Clara that is smooth and clear. By taking the traditional Vienna lager and adding certain native Mexican ingredients to it, like corn or limes, the lager got an updated flavor to reflect its new home country.
Mexican lagers are refreshing beers that are easy to drink and low in alcohol content. Many people add a lime wedge or lime juice to a Mexican lager to enhance the flavors and crispness of the beverage. Some Mexican breweries have begun to produce pilsners and other styles akin to lagers, so the selection of Mexican beer is constantly expanding.
Mexican Beer Brands
- Carta Blanca
- Cerveza Superior
- Corona Extra
- Dos Equis
- Estrella Jalisco
- Modelo Especial
- Negra Modelo
Modelo is one of the most popular Mexican beers in the US, and for good reason. The beer has subtle notes of maize and honey that punctuate the sip with a crispy, light finish. The cerveza is known for its short bottles that are significantly different from other beer bottles on the market. The gold foil around the top also sets it apart from other lagers making it look expensive.
Modelo is super popular because it is very approachable and lightly carbonated, perfect for beer lovers of all kinds. This beer often bridges the gap between simple Mexican beers and the complex brews of other types of beers, like IPAs and ambers. The dark straw-colored beer may be too complex for people that exclusively drink light beer, but for those that love Mexican lagers and are looking for a bit more flavor and surprise, Modelo is your best option.
With its striking appearance, smooth but complex flavoring, and sweet, honey notes, Modelo Especial is one of the most popular Mexican beers on the US market and continues to grow among beer lovers.
If you are a lover of Mexican lagers and looking for a lot more complexity in your beer, Negra Modelo is an interesting and more complex lager. This a Munich-style beer that has a super dark appearance, close to a stout or porter even. But it is surprisingly light despite the color with caramel, nutty aroma, and aftertaste.
Negra Modelo is the number selling dark beer in Mexico and isn’t doing too bad in the US either. It lacks the tartness of other Mexican lagers and has a more bold flavor that isn’t ideal for a hot day on the beach. Instead, this beer finds its home at a late-night campfire or fajita night with the family.
Negra Modelo has nearly no carbonation and a small head, so it can also go well with a dessert, like chocolate cake, without compromising the sweet, bold flavor. The creaminess of this beer is not heavy but rich in mouthfeel, unlike porters and stouts.
The beer pairs well with a hearty Mexican meal with red meats and spicy flavors that you can wash down with the malty flavor. Similar to the flavor of rye bread, and a subtle hint of something sweet, like coffee or chocolate.
The real draw to the Negra Modelo is the insane smoothness of this beer, which is a stark contrast to most Mexican lagers that are high in carbonation. So if you aren’t into the bubbles, give this dark beer a try.
Corona is a classic choice for Mexican beer that even picky beer lovers often enjoy. This crisp and refreshing lager is a light honey color and has high clarity. Coronas have been dubbed the perfect beach beer and are enhanced with a slice of lime to add some extra bite to the flavor. The beer is highly carbonated, adding to its refreshing quality.
The beer finds a nice middle between super simple American lagers and overly-complex European ones. It has a sweet flavor profile that ends with a skunky taste at the end. The simple beer is most recognizable for its yellow color in the clear bottles, making it a staple in liquor stores in America.
A beer like this is meant to simply be enjoyed, which is why the flavor is straightforward. Corona is perfect for lovers of light American lagers that want to have something with a bit of a flavor twist. Corona has come to associate itself with beachy vibes and summer days, adding to its refreshing image. Even though Corona only came to the US in 1981, it has become one of America’s favorite beers in just a few decades.
If you're looking for an even "lighter" beach beverage experience, try Corona Light, a beer that sits firmly among the best light beers on the market. And, if you want to dial back the size of your beverage, try a Coronita.
You might be thinking, Coronita vs Corona, what's the difference? The answer is purely size, as Cornita is the smaller version of Corona Extra. Hint - you can drink more! Well, more bottles, not total volume.
Pacifico, named so because it is brewed in the Pacific Ocean port city of Mazatlán in Mexico, is a pale corn-colored lager with a subtle flavor profile. It has a light maize flavor with notes of hop and lemon. The beer has a grassy, bready scent indicative of a strong beer, but the taste is inoffensive and light.
The beer has little aftertaste and medium carbonation that is typical for Mexican lagers. No surprise, this beer pairs beautifully with Mexican food like tortillas and queso for a flavorful evening snack.
Pacifico is ideal from a bottle because it doesn’t have much of a head when it's on tap and is best when chilled well. The beer can lack flavor if kept at room temperature. It is best when enjoyed in a hot climate as a refreshing beverage to cool you off.
The light herbal scent and flavor mix with the maize notes to find a satisfying middle that is refreshing with a bit of heftiness that you don’t see in Corona. Pacifico is a bit drier than Corona and Modelo, so is good for drinkers that want something with a slightly heavier body and less carbonation.
Similar to Sol, this is a bright and hoppy beer that catches your attention with its striking yellow color in a clear bottle.
Estrella Jalisco is the ideal beach-sipping beer because it is super light and refreshing, like most Mexican lagers, but offers more hops and citrus flavors. The beer is a good medium between a light IPA and a Corona as it has notes of citrus, hops, apple, lemon, and grass for a well-rounded taste.
Next time you sit down for some chips and queso, consider pairing it with these beers that highlight the flavors in Mexican food. This is another lager that is enhanced by the addition of a lime wedge for some added tartness.
Estrella Jalisco is best served chilled from the fridge or cooler and increases the corn flavor and sweetness as it warms. The Jalisco at room temperature is rather undesirable because it does take on the sweet yet bland flavoring.
Compared to other lagers, this one has medium carbonation giving it a smoother mouthfeel while still encompassing the feeling of a Mexican beer.
Montejo has a stronger taste than Mexican lagers but doesn’t even come close to the boldness of Negra Modelo. Served in a bottle that, frankly, looks quite American, this beer is a Mexican pilsner with notes of citrus and a little aftertaste and skunk. That’s right! This is the first pilsner on our list!
Montejo is a casual and approachable beer that is great at dinner time, with some hefty Mexican food like a burrito or carnitas plate. The beer has a short finish, which is characteristic of lagers and doesn’t leave any residual taste of corn or malt.
It pours in a bright, golden color hidden by the dark brown bottle it comes in. The color is a welcome surprise while still delivering the full-bodied flavor the bottle suggests. This beer is perfect for a relaxing Sunday or board game night as it has a rich first taste with an easy finish. The biscuity flavor is comforting in all seasons, not just on the beach in summer.
Carta Blanca beer comes in a regal-looking brothel lined with gold and a red emblem in the middle. This beer has the classic skunky aftertaste many Mexican lagers are known for. It pours a light orange color with a generous head for a satisfyingly foamy sip.
People have gotten innovative with their additions to this beer, stretching beyond lime wedges and opting for clementine or lemon wedges to add some tartness to the flavor profile.
As far as Mexican beers go, this one is pretty middle of the road in its flavor and boldness. A great option for sipping on a hot, sunny beach in the summer. It has a malty, pretzel flavor that is more noticeable than flavors in Montejo but has a similar full-bodied flavor.
The beer has a dry finish but not too dry, and not for beer lovers on the hunt for new and complex flavors. Carta Blanca beer is straightforward and soothing, perfect for relaxing after a long day.
A beer that looks like sunshine in a bottle, Sol is a standard Mexican lager with a bright and happy appearance. The best thing about this beer is how light it is, making it very drinkable and soothing on the mouth.
Sol has no skunking or tartness, just a smooth, simple flavor that glides down with ease. For those looking to add some bite to it, it pairs perfectly with a wedge of lime and a squirt of lime juice.
The beer has a light creaminess to it that probably offsets any skunking that could come through in the flavor. Unlike most Mexican beer brands, Sol incorporates a nutty flavor into the beer that makes it stand out in its comforting flavor.
Like all Mexican lagers, Sol is wonderful on a hot beach but is also decent on a warm autumn day because it skips the citrus, lemony notes many other lagers opt for. The beer has a heavier feel than other, highly carbonated beer but does sit in your stomach the way heavy ambers can.
Sol is not the most popular Mexican lager on the market because it does take a different path in its flavoring. It is more of a midway point between traditional Mexican beers and mass-produced American beers.
Tecate has the same bready flavoring that many other Mexican lagers have, but rather than a wheaty, peppery bread, this is more a white bread with a clear taste. The beer is crystal clear and unlike most beers, comes in a thin, tall can.
The can may impact the taste resulting in more bite and less sweetness. But when poured into a glass, Tecate has a decent, white head that lasts. It starts smooth and malty but ends on a sweet, tart flavor similar to that of a Granny Smith apple. The mild dose of hops balances out the malt, so it doesn't come through immediately in the flavoring.
Tecate’s prominent flavor is the sweet corn that is found in many Mexican lagers. The light golden color shows the high carbonation in the beer that adds to the head when poured. This crispy beer has an earthy flavor that doesn’t pair well with lime, unlike many Mexican lagers.
Tecate takes the more natural, earthy route as opposed to the combination of citrus and subtlety that Mexican beers traditionally follow. The beer is often compared to corona but with less skunking and more corn flavor.
Victoria is a malty, amber lager that is very popular in Mexico and can be found hidden all across America in bars and restaurants. Many people might not be familiar with Victoria, but you may want to change that.
Victoria has all the traditional Mexican-lager characteristics of subtle hop and citrus that are covered by malty carbonation that is refreshing with a crisp finish. Some may even call the beer a copper color, as it can appear much darker than the light golden lagers of Mexico.
The beer is very inoffensive and can be compared closely to Pacifico aside from the obvious touches of lemon in Pacifico. Just like Pacifico, a chilled glass of Victoria is refreshing and perfect for a beach day.
The dark appearance of the beer can be misleading, as the taste is much closer to a Corona rather than a Negra Modelo, where the carbonation is still prominent. If you are looking for a different kind of Mexican beer, this one might be too mainstream.
Despite its lack of exposure, Victoria doesn’t stand out against the rest of the Mexican beer brands.
Dos Equis rose to popularity as one of the first breweries in Mexico. The beer is recognizable by its large double Xs on the bottle that got it its name. This beer is sweet and grainy with a smooth aftertaste. Nothing pretentious here, Dos Equis is a straightforward lager with mostly undetectable notes of citrus.
The beer is a straw color with medium but small carbonation, which is characteristic of Mexican beers. Dos Equis has a subtle flavor and hardly any scent, suggesting the beer is brewed with few hops and other adjuncts.
The green bottle and interesting commercials with the most interesting man in the world are the most memorable part of this beer. The double XX’s and charismatic spokesperson do much more to draw people to buy it than the beer's flavor.
People describe the beer as mostly bready flavors, which are prominent. The more subtle undertones of lemon and hops are enhanced when the beer is kept chilled. The beer is much more watery than Pacifico, so it feels like it quenches your thirst and is great for hot beach days.
The consensus on this beer brand is they produce light, slightly watery beer with all the typical characteristics of a Mexican-lager with, honestly, nothing super special about it. But as said, it is the pinnacle of classic Mexican lager descended from the Vienna lager with no twists or surprises in the sip.
It's been around for 125+ years and it's still going strong. Originating in Orizaba, Veracruz in the 19th century, Superior is a lounge chair beer that we will enjoy from time to time. Popular in Mexico, the lager recipe is virtually unchanged (to our belief) in its history. So, what you're drinking today is what was pretty much quaffed years ago.
The bottle is also really slick.
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