Friday, April 4, 2014

Corona Extra

Corona Extra was introduced by Groupo Modelo, an InBev subsidiary since 1913, in Mexico City in 1925. Always sold in its iconic clear bottle, except for the Corona Familiar (quart brown bottle, introduced in 1964), Corona Extra became Mexico's number one beer in 1935. Another notable Corona Extra trait is the painted-on bottle label, which was instituted in 1940. Interestingly, the draft version of the beer has only been sold since 1967. Introduced into the American market in 1976, Corona Extra has been the best-selling import brand in the United States since 1997.

Corona Extra (4.6% alcohol) is made with water, barley malt, hops, and yeast. Groupo Modelo does not indicate that the beer is produced with any corn or rice adjuncts. A light version, Corona Light (4.1% alcohol, 99 calories) was brought on line in 1989. The drinker will find that Corona Extra has a smooth, mellow, yet flavorful bready character, with a mild, appropriate hop note.

Found at just about every beer outlet, Corona Extra and Corona Light command a premium price, so this beer will not appeal to the bargain shopper. The beer receives extensive and heavy television, radio, and print advertising attention, and one will notice widespread sponsorship of many events by the brand.

Noted for its 7-ounce "Coronita" bottles, Corona Extra is sold in 12-ounce cans and bottles as well as larger bottles, even the 32-ounce "Familiar" brown bottle.

This writer highly recommends that the beer enthusiast sample these two distinguished and classic beer brands.

Monday, March 3, 2014


Bohemia is a popular Mexican beer, introduced in 1905 in Monterrey. A pilsner beer, it is brewed according to the very popular style originated in Pilsen, Bohemia (at the time a kingdom of the Austrian Empire and today the Czech Republic). At 5.3% alcohol, it is a clear, golden beer, brewed with Styrian hops (originated in Styria, Austria). Presently, it is a brand of Cuauhetmoc Moctezuma, a Heineken International subsidiary.

This above-premium brand is quite common in Mexico and the United States, and one will often encounter it in Mexican restaurants. Bohemia is sold in stately dark-brown bottles with an ornate foil neck shroud.

In 2007 a new Bohemia brand, Bohemia Oscura, a Vienna lager was introduced. At 5.5% alcohol, this beer has a darker appearance and uses caramel and roasted malts.

A third Bohemia brand, Bohemia Weizen, a strong wheat beer, was rolled out in 2009. At 5.7% alcohol, this beer uses malted wheat, Mt. Hood hops, coriander, and orange peel in the brew.

Bohemia Chocolate Stout, the newest of the line, debuted in 2011 and comes in at 5.7% alcohol. Using crystal, brown, and chocolate malts, as well as a touch of Mexican cocoa, this beer will appeal to the extra-dark beer enthusiasts and is sold from October to March.

This writer has had the opportunity to sample the original Bohemia on a few occasions, and I look forward to being able to sample the others in this fascinating line of beers.


Saturday, February 1, 2014


Tecate (4.5%) has been produced in Mexico since 1944 and is widely distributed across North America. Tecate Light (5%) was rolled out in 1992, and Tecate Titanium (5.5%) arrived in 2013. This line of lager beers is recognized around the world as one of the standard Mexican beers, and this beer is sold at a value-priced point. Although a working-class beer, one could say, Tecate tends to hold its own against other mass-produced Mexican bees in appearance, aroma, flavor, body, and finish.

Today, this line of beers is owned by Heineken International. While you will probably never see or hear any television or radio advertising for Tecate, you might run across an occasional point-of-sale or magazine promotion for it. Nonetheless, this beer is sold at a high volume and is offered in a variety of canned and bottled configurations and packaging counts. This author has sampled both Tecate and Tecate Light and can testifiy to its absolutely perfect ability to accompany any spicy Mexican dish. It is with great admiration that I recommend a sampling of one of the Tecate line beers.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Dos Equis

Dos Equis is, today, one of the most popular Mexican-produced beers, and its popularity is due, in large part, to the "World's Most Interesting Man" ad campaign, which was launched in 2006.

In 1897, German immigrant, William Hasse, began to sell Dos Equis from his Moctezuma Brewery, located in his adopted city of Vera Cruz, Mexico. This beer, XX, was named for "Twenty" in honor of the approaching 20th Century. Unfortunately, most consumers did not understand the connection, so they simply called it "Two X's", and later on, after realizing the fruitlessness of trying to continually correct the public on the correct use of the beer's name, the brewery officially adopted the nickname as the actual name.

Dos Equis has, like so many other beer brands, been passed around to numerous owners, and Heineken International is the newest brand holder, acquiring the company in 2010. Dos Equis has been imported into the USA since 1973, and in 1984, Dos Equis Especial (4.3% alcohol) was introduced. The Especial has actually become the flagship brand of the line, and the original Dos Equis, now called Dos Equis Ambar (4.7% abv), is a lower-volume companion. Many do not realized that the original Dos Equis was a Vienna Lager and not the more well-known pale lager. Also, during the Christmas season, a special, called Noche Buena is sold, but in very limited quantities.

The consumer will find that Dos Equis Especial is widely available in varying bottle sizes, on tap, and in cans. One will also sporadically find the Ambar, almost always in bottles, although canned versions of it are sold. This writer has tried both the original and the Especial, and I must say that both are smooth, pleasant beers, that can strongly compete with all of the other mainline Mexican lagers.

There is no doubt that the heavy advertising attention given to the Dos Equis line has made it such a common and popular beer offering.


Sunday, December 1, 2013


Sol beer was developed in the federal district of Mexico (Mexico City) in 1899 by a German immigrant, and is so named for its bright, sunny appearance in the clear bottle. Sol has been a Heineken International brand since, 2010, when the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewing company was acquired. Sol is available in fifty countries and is sold in varying bottle and can configurations, and one might occasionally see it on tap. According to Heineken, it is especially popular in the Middle East, Asia, and South America. One will find that it is also widely available in America and it is a standard offering in Mexican restaurants.

Sol is 4.5% alcohol, and the company touts its "exquisite aroma", "mild flavor", "slightly bitter" flavor, and "refreshing" character. Sol's mellow approach guarantees that it is not shunned by those turned off by harsh or strong beers. However, most beer enthusiasts will find that the beer had enough flavor and character to complement a spicy Latin meal. This writer sees a bright future for this brand in the coming decades.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Carta Blanca

Carta Blanca (Blank Check) was introduced by Cuauhtémoc Brewery in 1890 in Monterrey, Mexico. This beer was the original beer of the brewery, and was the flagship beer, until the 1980s, when the Dos Equis line began to overshadow it, after the merger with the Moctezuma company in 1985. At 4.5% alcohol, Carta Blanca is an easy-drinking, mass-produced lager, and is widely available, typically in 32 oz. bottle in six-packs of 12-oz. bottles in select locations. Cans are rare, but are produced.

One will run across this beer on many menus in Mexican restaurants, and this writer can attest to the exceptional pair-ability of this lager with spicy Mexican or Tex-Mex offerings. It is highly recommended that the beer enthusiast sample this classic beer brand.

NOTE: Heineken International acquired this company in 2010.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Winery Exchange and Private Label Beer

Founded in 1999, the Winery Exchange produces a large array of private label (store brand) beers, wines, and hard liquors. Many of their beer brands, such as Big Flats 1901, are sold under exclusive agreement with store chains, such as Walgreens. Most of their beer brands are produced at the Rochester, New York brewery, most famous for the Genesee beers, although some Winery Exchange beers are imported from Europe or Latin America.

Although the quality of the beers is questionable (I have tried quite a few and have found them inferior or even outright unpleasant), there does seem to be a continuing market for them, and many times they are marketed as craft beers, as one will notice with the brands sold at Whole Foods Market.

Like it or not, the private label segment of the beer market is strong, the Winery Exchange is a major player in it, and there is no sign that the trend will end in the foreseeable future.