Coming from Portugal, I consider Mexico to be a strong beer-swilling nation. Certainly the parties I go to offer endless buckets of ice-cold beer that have no shortage of takers. I was quite surprised, in fact, to learn that this is not an exceptionally heavy beer-consuming nation. Maybe it used to be but, unfortunately, Coca-Cola has made its presence felt. Mexico is rated the number one country in the world for consumption of this man-made soda.
Give me an ice cold beer and some crunchy, locally-grown peanuts over Coca-Cola any day! It just feels right, with the horses, on the beach, at BBQs – beer just goes with spicy Mexican cuisine. Apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so because beer drinking in Mexico has a long history.
Early inhabitants made a variety of fermented drink called pulque from the agave cactus and corn. Pulque is still in existence and popular in certain areas.
However, beer as we know it was introduced by Europeans who brought their favorite recipes from their homeland. Some Mexican beer brands have surprisingly long histories with over a hundred years or more of experience. Several German and Swiss brewers established companies as far back as the 1800’s.
Mexico, at this time, was dominated by European, mainly French, interests. They installed an Austrian archduke, Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico, who ruled much of the country from his magnificent castle in Mexico City for four years. Although brief, his reign was long enough to instill a taste for darker beers – the precursors to Negra Modelo, Bohemia Obscura, and Dos Equis Amber today.
Beer in Mexico is an exception to the weak, tepid beers found throughout most of Latin America. Here, we’re fortunate enough to find fine quality beer with a wide array of choices at good prices. Many of our American visitors are excited to try the many brands of beer that are uniquely available to us here in Mexico.
After a few high-level, sophisticated beer tastings with “aficionado” friends, I have come up with my own list of top-ranking domestic Mexican beers.
Miguel’s Top 10 List of the Best Beers of Mexico
1. Pacifico — Beer drinkers view this as the best of the light lagers. It is especially popular in this area near the coast for which it may have been named! This brand was launched by three Germans in Mazatlan in 1900 and it is still brewed there. Pacifico rules King for me.
2. Modelo Especial – A true 5.3% alcohol premium beer, this dark, malty brew has a sweetish, smoky flavor that goes well with spicy, hearty Mexican food. It is also quite interesting on its own — no lime required. Often found on tap.
3. Victoria — This brand is a popular choice for those who want to drink a couple beers yet keep a clear head as it is only 4% alcohol. Even so, it is surprisingly flavorful.
4. Barallitos – Lisa’s favourite. (I think she just likes the shape of these little fat bottles.)
5. Dos XX Lager — The Rolling Rock of Mexico, in a green bottle with a strangely sweet taste.
6. Bohemia Lager — This is definitely a European lager with far more complexity than the competition, and 5.3% alcohol.
7. Tecate — Sold mostly in cans, this is a “made for the cooler” beer that is readily available and very drinkable.
8. Carta Blanca — This brand used to be quite common, but seems to be fading away into obscurity. It’s not a standout, but Carta Blanca is often the cheapest one on the shelf.
9. Corona — One of the five best-selling beers in the world, but it usually tastes best in Mexico. This is the typical “drink all afternoon” beer, working well on its own or with a plate of tacos. Refreshing with a lime.
10. Sol — While Corona wins the marketing wars in the U.S., Sol is the winning brand in much of Mexico, despite not being a standout in any respect. Like Corona, it’s simple and inoffensive. At its best – ice cold – and progressively worse as it gets warmer.
Another great thing about Mexican beer is that it is widely available and cheap! Any corner shop has several different varieties to choose from, usually with one or two on special. They are generally chilled to perfection as well… so starting a street party in this part of the world is not hard to do!
What’s your favourite Mexican beer brand? Let our concierge know (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we’ll have the fridge stocked with them for your arrival!
— Miguel C
Bon vivant, gastronome and all-around great guy – Miguel Neves de Carvalho brings you the best of what Punta Mita and the surrounding area have to offer. His passions include polo, horse riding, rugby, cigars and most recently … golf.
Miguel lives in Punta Mita with his youngest son, his fiancée, Lisa, and his two dogs “Tanqueray” and “Tonica”.
He started Punta Mita-Rentals in 2012.
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Photo of Patty and Miguel by Kemi Vernon. See more of her work at www.kemivernonphotography.com