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  • Writer's pictureSean Tinney

11 Best Mexican-style Beers to Try this Year

Not many beer styles can compete with the drinkability and refreshingness of Mexican-style beers—with their clean and crisp flavors, low ABVs, and citrus adjuncts. They’re a prime year-round choice and one of the best summertime craft beer styles.

In fact, as of May 2023, about 80% of America’s beer imports are from Mexico, according to the Washington Post.

That means Mexican and Mexican-style beers are making headway as one of, if not the, most popular craft beer style on the market. And what better time to try a few stellar examples than right now?

What is a Mexican-style beer?

The majority of Mexican-style beers come in the form of lagers. Be it golden and crisp or amber and slightly sweet from roasted malts, these beers all have one thing in common: drinkability.

A Mexican-style beer is generally pale golden to amber with a noticeable malt aroma and refreshing flavor. They have low alcohol content (4.2-5.5%, on average) and little sweetness. The most common Mexican beer style is the Mexican-style lager.

Mexican-style lagers use lager yeast for a clear and clean appearance and taste. They’re naturally light in color and sometimes use adjuncts during brew for added flavor.

For example, quite a few craft beer examples in this style use lime in the recipe for that classic Mexican-style beer taste synonymous with the style.

Others do well without lime or one-off additions during brewing and often use a slice of lime or lemon for garnishing.

Mexican-style beers are in the running for the most popular beer style in America, with brands like Corona and Modelo making their way to the top of the rankings.

Craft breweries, including Pittsburgh breweries, make the most of this style’s rise in popularity, brewing craft Mexican-style lagers.

A brief history of the Mexican-style lager

Mexican lagers started in Mexico, but the style’s roots stretch across the Atlantic Ocean and into Austria, where Vienna-style lagers originated. As Mexico fought through the second French intervention in the 1860s, liberating themselves from potential French rule, many Austrians immigrated to Mexico, bringing their brewing traditions.

Eventually, France withdrew from the conflict in 1867, and tensions subsided, but Austrian immigrants and their brewing trades remained. They quickly discovered, however, that lagering beer (cold-fermenting beer for an extended period) was challenging in Mexico’s climate.

That’s where Santiago Graf comes in. Graf eventually brought lagering equipment from the United States, US-sourced and malted barley, and imported European hops—these ingredients were difficult to find and produce in Mexico.

Graf combined these key ingredients with the significantly alkaline water profiles in Mexico to brew a Vienna-style lager that was clearer, paler, less sweet, and more drinkable than what was typically made back in Austria then. Though, this still isn’t the Mexican-style lager known today.

The Czech-style pilsner is the real breakthrough responsible for creating the Mexican lager. Austria’s neighboring Czech Republic brewed pilsner for the first time, and Austria’s Vienna-style beers quickly took on similar characteristics. The new brewing techniques arrived in Mexico, and the Mexican-style lager was born.

11 Mexican-style beers for you to enjoy this year

Now that you understand some of the history behind the Mexican-style lager, it’s time to look at the best ones on the national, regional, and local markets.

Here are eleven Mexican-style beers you should get your hands on this year:

  • Great Lakes Brewing Mexican-style Lager

  • Modelo Especial

  • Hop Farm Luchadora

  • Stone Buenaveza

  • Corona Extra

  • North Country Brewing Mexican-style Lager

  • Pacifico

  • Allegheny City Mexican Vacation

  • Church Brew Works Mexicali Blues

  • Cinderlands Gato Montés

  • East End East Allegheny

Great Lakes Brewing Mexican-style Lager

Style: Mexican-style lager brewed with lime

Brand: Great Lakes Brewing Company From: Cleveland, Ohio ABV: 5.4%

Taste: Slight malt sweetness with lime flavors. Brewed with real lime and lime purée for flavor and corn for added crispness.

Modelo Especial

Style: Mexican lager (pilsner-style); Import

Brand: Grupo Modelo

From: Mazatlán, Sinaloa Mexico

ABV: 4.4%

Taste: Subtle hop bitterness with citrus hop aroma. Clear, light, crisp, and refreshing. Often garnished with lime. Choose Modelo Negra for a similar but more robust brew.

Hop Farm Luchadora

Style: Mexican-style amber lager

Brand: Hop Farm Brewing Company

From: Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania

ABV: 5.4%

Taste: Roasted malt flavor and aroma. Amber body with slight carbonation. Clean and dry finish.

Stone Buenaveza

Style: Mexican-style lager

Brand: Stone Brewing

From: Escondido, California

ABV: 4.7%

Taste: A touch of malt sweetness. Brewed with lime and salt for a crisp, dry taste with a citrus finish.

Corona Extra

Style: Mexican lager; Import

Brand: Grupo Modelo

From: Mazatlán, Sinaloa Mexico

ABV: 4.5%

Taste: Dry, pale, and sweet with slight bread notes and an easy finish. Typically garnished with lime for added citrus flavor.

North Country Brewing Mexican-style Lager

Style: Mexican-style lager

Brand: North Country Brewing Company

From: Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania

ABV: 4.5%

Taste: Pale gold. Clean flavor with a crisp finish. Brewed with sea salt and lime peel.

Pacifico Clara

Style: Mexican lager; Import

Brand: Grupo Modelo

From: Mazatlán, Sinaloa Mexico

ABV: 4.5%

Taste: Clean, slightly malty taste. Hearty profile with a mild bitterness.

Allegheny City Mexican Vacation

Style: Mexican-style lager

Brand: Allegheny City Brewing

From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

ABV: 5%

Taste: Brewed with lime peels and a pinch of salt. Malt flavors with some sweetness cut by citrus and salinity.

The Church Brew Mexicali Blues

Style: Mexican-style light lager

Brand: The Church Brew Works

From: Lawrenceville, Pennsylvania

ABV: 4%

Taste: Made with fresh limes and blue agave. Full flavor with some residual sweetness.

Tecate Original

Style: Mexican lager; Import

Brand: Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V.

From: Monterrey, Nuevo León Mexico

ABV: 4.5%

Taste: Malt-forward taste. Golden clear with low bitterness and a clean and quick finish.

Cinderlands Gato Montés

Style: Mexican-style dark lager

Brand: Cinderlands Beer Co.

From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

ABV: 5.3%

Taste: Full, rich malt flavor with low to medium bitterness and a sharp finish.

East End East Allegheny

Style: Mexican-style dark lager

Brand: East End Brewing Company From: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ABV: 5.5%

Taste: Amber hue with a sweet, caramel taste from the malt used. Slight malt and hop bitterness with a dry finish.


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