Cinco de Mayo is a great time for Mexican-Americans all over the country to show of their Mexican pride and heritage. That being said, this margarita-filled holiday is also a great excuse to show up late and hungover at work Friday morning no matter what your heritage is.
Among the beer community, Cinco de Mayo is not such a big deal. Yes, Corona may be flooding the airways with their party atmosphere beer commercials, and at least I know what this guy will be drinking – but when it comes to craft beers Mexico does not keep up.
Much like the history of beer in the United States, breweries began to flourish after German immigrants landed in Mexico in the late 19th century. Additionally, prohibition in the US helped out Mexico’s beer sales because all the LA crowd hopped down to Baja to get their drink on. Breweries such as Mexicali and Aztec Brewing Company opened up along the border and la vida loca was going great. In fact, in the 1920s there were 36 breweries in Mexico. Sadly, due to competition over the past century, only two corporations, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA, control over 90% of the beer market (reminds me of something similar in the US…). Grupo Modelo owns Corona, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, Victoria, and Pacifico. FEMSA owns Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, and Bohemia.
Enough Mexican beer history, let’s talk about what you’ll be drinking!
5. Tecate – Also known as vitamin-T for those who know not to drink the water when visiting Tijuana, this unbelievably cheap beer will satisfy the urge to rapidly drink a cold yellow beverage. This beer has an ABV of 4.55% which is just enough to do the trick. It has a sweet corn aroma, a diminished head, and a thin dry body. If you’re on a budget and decided to go to the dive bar after work, this is the beer for you.
4. Corona – BrewTours might get some heat for this, but Corona is not a premium beer! Corona is the best selling non-domestic beer in the US and is one of the five most consumed beers in the world. This amazes me, yet again when’s the last time I saw a Corona commercial? – yesterday. Despite it’s marketing efforts to brand Corona as an elegant, exotic, and premium beer, one can’t escape that this beer is just plain bad. Without the lime slice that filters the taste of the beer, most of Corona’s beers have gone bad. There’s a reason why beers are bottled in brown and green bottles – it’s called preservation and protection from the sun – something that Corona has seemed to forget. Despite my rant, Corona does make you look pretty good when you’re socializing and I’ve never been one to turn down a cold Corona with lime. Enjoy the best selling non-domestic beer in the US, just don’t be so proud of yourself.
3. Dos Equis Amber – I don’t drink often, but when I do it’s usually not any beer from Mexico. It’s difficult to think about these beers without picturing the advertising behind them. What does this tell you about the success of Mexican beers? BrewTours finds the Dos Equis Amber to be a step above Corona because a) it’s bottled in a brown bottled; and b) it tastes better. The amber is 4.7% ABV and has sweet, caramel, and malty notes. This beer has more body than a Tecate, but is still relatively thin and dry.
2. Bohemia – For the final two beers comes the battle of the foil wrapped beers; FEMSA (Bohemia) vs. Grupo Modelo (Negra Modelo). This was a close call because both beers look so fancy when you drink them and they are both inspired from Vienna-Style traditions. This beer is the oldest and most traditional beer from Mexico and has notes of smooth citrusy hops and a sweet aroma. The beer has a 5.3% ABV and is great on hot days. If you want to impress the executives today, bring them a fancy wrapped Bohemia Clasica.
1. Negra Modelo – As the winner in our Cinco de Mayo beer challenge, this elegant wide bottled beer will treat you well. At an ABV of 6% you can drink 2 of these and feel about as good as 3 Coronas. The body of this beer is not as thin and dry as other Mexican beers and is a dark Vienna-Munich style beer. This beer has been served since 1926 and has been a favorite around the world. This beer might not shout 24 pack beach party with limes, but rather it calmly tells others that you know what you’re doing and you know it.
No matter what your style is today, have fun and be safe. Casually drop these beer facts among your friends, co-workers, and significant others to remind them how much cooler you are than they are. If you’re looking to drink and learn more about beers beyond the Corona that’s in your hand, hop on one of our brewery tours this summer. We’re getting ready to have an awesome schedule visiting some of the top breweries in San Francisco and the Bay Area.