The vibrant nation of Mexico is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, breathtaking landscapes, and, of course, its exceptional beer. The most well-known Mexican beers in the past have been the legendary lagers, which have been brewed since the arrival of German immigrants to Mexico in the late 19th Century.
However, in recent years, the Mexican beer industry has experienced a craft beer boom, captivating beer aficionados worldwide with its exceptional high-quality beer and diverse range of flavors. As we embark on a journey into 2023, it’s the perfect time to celebrate the best Mexican beers that have emerged in this exciting era.
Due to an intensely hot year-round climate, most Mexican beers are classic pilsner-style lagers as these are the lightest, most refreshing beers to enjoy on a hot day (“beach beers” as I like to call them).
But the craft beer movement now sees a wide range of our favorite beer styles being produced by Mexico’s artisanal beer producers in the 21st Century. Everything from IPAs and Hefeweizens to Porters, Imperial Stouts, and everything in between.
Join me and don your sombrero as we embark on an adventure for beer enthusiasts through the enthralling landscape of Mexican beers, both microbrew beers and the best of the corporate-owned Macro lagers.
A History of Beer Brewing in Mexico
From pre-Hispanic times to European influence during the colonial period, beer has played an integral role in Mexican traditions and celebrations. Whether it’s the iconic Day of the Dead festivities or a casual gathering with friends, beer remains an essential companion for Mexicans.
Mexican beer brewing began its modern journey with the establishment of the country’s first brewery, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc’s Brewery, in 1890.
This marked the start of a brewing revolution that would eventually give birth to the earliest beer brands and iconic styles, such as Vienna lagers and Mexican light lagers, which continue to dominate the market today.
Today, the cultural significance of beer in Mexico remains strong. It is often enjoyed alongside traditional Mexican cuisine, such as tacos, tamales, and ceviche. Beer festivals and competitions are held across the country, bringing together brewers, enthusiasts, and beer lovers to celebrate the art of brewing and the diverse flavors of Mexican beer.
The Rise of Craft Beer in Mexico
In recent years, the craft beer movement has swept across Mexico, inspiring a new generation of brewers to experiment with flavors, techniques, and quality ingredients. These innovative artisans are redefining the Mexican beer landscape, pushing boundaries, and captivating beer connoisseurs around the world.
Craft brewing in Mexico has experienced exponential growth, with an increasing number of independent breweries popping up across the country. These breweries are driven by a passion for quality, creativity, and a desire to offer unique and diverse beer options to craft beer connoisseurs who are seeking something beyond the mainstream.
The craft brewing movement in Mexico goes beyond individual breweries. Collaborations and beer exhibitions have become an integral part of the craft beer culture, fostering camaraderie and pushing the boundaries of innovation.
Events like the Mexico City Beer Week and the Monterrey Beer Festival bring together breweries from all corners of the country, providing a platform for brewers to showcase their latest creations and exchange ideas. These gatherings not only promote the craft beer industry but also create a sense of community among brewers and consumers alike.
The Best Micro Breweries of Mexico in 2023
Although the craft beer industry is still in its early stages in Mexico, there are several craft breweries and tap rooms which are worth checking out there on your next vacation.
Brewing the finest beers, many of them have even found their way over the border and can be found in your local craft beer hangout or at better wine and beer wholesalers. Pabst has even started importing the whole range of Cerveza Minerva in Jalisco after tasting their fantastic beers.
Established in 2015, this innovative brewery has gained recognition for its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients and its dedication to sustainable brewing practices. By partnering with local farmers and suppliers, Cervecería Primavera ensures the freshest and highest quality ingredients are incorporated into their brews.
Their lineup features a variety of styles, including refreshing IPAs, complex stouts, and unique fruit-infused beers that exemplify the creativity and ingenuity of Mexican craft brewers.
Founded in 2012, this brewery has achieved acclaim for its mastery of barrel-aged beers, blending traditional techniques with modern flavors. Using oak barrels sourced from local wineries and distilleries, Cervecería Colibrí ages their beers to perfection, infusing them with intricate layers of complexity.
Their barrel-aged imperial stouts and sours have garnered international attention, making them a favorite among beer enthusiasts seeking bold and distinctive taste experiences.
Based in Jalisco, Cerveza Minerva produce an eclectic range of beer, which includes seven beers in total, their original flagship ales the Kölsch and Vienna lager in addition to a Citra IPA, an Imperial Stout, and even an “ITA” (an IPA aged in tequila barrels!).
Seasonal beers produced by Cerveza Minerva include several “winter” specialty beers (yes, they have a winter in Mexico!) including an annual Christmas Ale. Brewing since 2003, Minerva now has 30% of the craft beer market in Mexico and even has Pabst importing and distributing the beers in the USA.
Baja Brewing Co
Established by a US expat in 2007, Jordan Gardenhire has been brewing some amazing beers in Baja ever since. The Brewing Co now has three brewpubs in the Los Cabos area and often brews up to eight core beers along with seasonal specialty beers.
Baja Brewing started to ship its beers to the US way back in 2013 with Cabotella, the brewer’s first blonde ale. Since then, the acclaimed IPA, For Favor (known as Peyote Pale Ale in Mexico), has made its way north.
Clocking in at 7% and made with five different hops varietals, this IPA will leave your tastebuds screaming for more. Recently the Baja Brewing black ale, Escorpion Negro also began distribution to the US.
Currently, the beers are available in California, Utah, Arizona, and Chicago, so keep an eye out for them in your local bar if you should be lucky enough to live in these States.
The Top 5 Mexican Craft Beers of 2023
Although all of the breweries we mentioned above are worth seeking out, there are a few one-off beers or smaller breweries whose beer we had to mention:
Maria Bonita Blonde Ale
The Maria Bonita brewery was started by a couple just west of Mexico City, who not only wanted to brew the best beers but also provide jobs for the younger members of the local community. The owner and head brewer José manual Bańos traveled to Europe to learn his craft before returning to open the Maria Bonita brewery in 2014.
Maria Bonita Blonde Ale is a citrussy delight of pale beer which goes down ever so well. Being an approachable beer, you will probably want to order two. While you’re trying the Maria Bonita beers, why not give their Porter a go, which is the epitome of a darker beer with an authentically Mexican twist?
Falling Piano Coahuila 99
Falling Piano is a microbrewery in Mexico City that offers new and distinct beers for Mexicans to try that fall outside of the standard lager or pilsner styles with which they are familiar.
Coahuila 99 is a deep red ale with a very sweet malty flavor and a toasty aftertaste. We applaud Falling Piano Brewers for thinking outside of the box and showing the rest of the world that Mexicans can master any beer style.
Motor Cerveceria Condesa Porter
This one is for the coffee lovers out there! The porter by Chihuahua-based microbrewery Motor Cerveceria tastes like a delicious cold-brewed coffee as much as a drinkable beer.
This porter displays a complex array of aromas and flavors; a toasty maltiness gives way to a strong coffee flavor with notes of chocolate and almonds. Yum!
Primus Tempus Dorado
Brewed in the Oaxaca de Juárez region, Tempus Dorado is as the name suggests a golden ale that is just as refreshing to drink as it is to gaze upon.
With a lower ABV of 4.3 percent and aromas of honey and bread, it’s the perfect Mexican craft beer for enjoying on the beach or in the afternoon by the pool.
Calvera Tripel de Abadia
You probably weren’t expecting to find a Belgian-style ale in Mexico. However, the founding partners of the Calavera Brewery in Sant Joan de les Abadesses, Mikel Mendizabal and Marc Baulida, have always followed very traditional fermentation methods and are known for their barrel aging of many styles.
The Tripel de Abadia is a sweet malty powerhouse, as you would expect from a Belgian triple, and definitely not for the faint-hearted.
Calavera also makes a range of sour beers, including a Saison, which has been aged in Cognac and Oloroso barrels called My God Drinks Sour. It’s worth tasting if you should ever be lucky enough to see one in the wild!
The Best of the Top-Selling Mexican Lagers
We’ve compiled a list of the best Mexican beers on the market today. Most of them are mass-produced and regularly exported worldwide.
Mexican macro lagers are similar to the American adjunct lagers but often served with a wedge of lime for a more refreshing taste.
No matter which beer you try, you’ll surely enjoy the refreshing taste of Mexico. So, bust out the chips and guacamole and head out to the backyard, barbeque, or beach for this list. Salud!
Corona might be a more famous beer outside of Mexico than within it and the best-selling Mexican beer in the world. Corona instantly makes us think of a lazy beach afternoon, seated under shady palm trees, watching the turquoise Caribbean waters with an ice-cold beer in hand.
Maybe that’s just masterful marketing, but it aptly represents Corona’s deliciously refreshing lager. You’ll get a lightly sweet corn flavor, medium body, and high carbonation. An affordable, award-winning lager Corona tastes even better with a dash of fresh lime squeezed in.
Dos Equis is another Mexican staple at U.S. grocery stores, bars, and liquor stores. Dos Equis comes as a golden color lager or a German-style amber lager. The flagship beer that is Dos Equis lager is the more widely drunk beer. It’s malty, velvety, carbonated goodness with a hint of bread and corn.
Like most Mexican beers, adding a slice of lime and salt really awakens the subtle flavors of the Dos Equis lager.
Victoria is one of the most popular and balanced lagers in Mexico. It is an Austrian Pilsner style lager, amber in color with a sweet, malty, bready flavor that has a funky aftertaste.
Unlike Corona and Dos Equis, you’ll get more depth of flavor with this lager with a hint of floral notes from the hops.
Brewed and bottled in the Pacific coastal town of Mazatlan, Sinaloa, Pacifico is a deliciously refreshing classic, pilsner-style lager. It is pale yellow with a crushable flavor encompassing sweet malt, herbal hop bitterness, and crisp dryness.
It’s effortless to drink two or three of these at a time if they’re ice-cold. It’s hard to find a more refreshing couple of beers than Pacifico.
Tecate is the classic cookout or house party beer. It’s a cheap lager you can buy in bulk, and it fits the bill of an easy-drinking, light beer that goes down as easily as water.
You’ll get a grainy soda cracker aroma and taste with a mild dose of hops. It’s crisp and inoffensive, and while it’s not the most adventurous beer, most people will drink this watery brew with pleasure.
Sol is a longstanding Mexican lager, first brewed in 1899. Brewers named it for the sun to represent its bright color and taste. Sol is the tamest lager on our list with very little aroma or notable flavor to speak of, but a nice medium body and carbonation for a classic, easy-drinking Mexican lager.
Known as the “cream of beers” in Mexico, this luxurious dark beer is a cut above the rest. A deep caramel color, Negra Modelo has a very creamy body with a clean finish, a caramel nutty aroma, and a floral hoppiness that isn’t too overpowering.
Modelo Especial is Negra Modelo’s sister brew. It’s a pale lager that offers the typical Mexican lager characteristics, including a light-yellow, almost clear seltzer water appearance and a corn and grassy smell and flavor profile.
This beer has no real malt or hops flavor to speak of. It is a reasonably neutral beer in that it isn’t too flavorful, but it isn’t offensive either. It is a refreshing, highly carbonated beer that is light-bodied and tastes great with Mexican food.
We’ve saved the best for last. Bohemia is our favorite of the Mexican macro-produced beers. It is the perfect pilsner, with a well-balanced taste of lemony citrus, crisp floral hops, and a subtly sweet maltiness.
It has a medium body and moderate carbonation and is one of the only beers that doesn’t have to be ice-cold to enjoy. This beer is best consumed sans lime wedge as the hops already bring the citrus to the party.
It’s our favorite beer to enjoy alongside a plate of authentic Mexican food. Provecho!
Best Mexican Beer – Last Call
Although you may be more familiar with the excellent macro lagers of Mexico, which seem to have a somewhat more crisp and refreshing taste than many of our homegrown adjunct lagers, don’t write off Mexico for craft beers such as IPAs, wheat beers, and stouts.
Whether you prefer a malty red ale, a hop-forward IPA, or a complex barrel-aged stout, Mexican breweries have something to offer every beer enthusiast. Recent years have seen a surge in exceptional brews, showcasing the craftsmanship, innovation, and passion of the Mexican brewing industry.
With the craft brewing movement in Mexico continuing to gain momentum, the future looks bright for beer enthusiasts. The dedication, creativity, and passion of these brewers have not only elevated the quality of Mexican beer but also put the country on the map as a vibrant and innovative craft beer destination.
As more people embrace the diversity and artistry of craft beer, Mexico’s craft brewing scene is poised to flourish further, offering beer lovers a world of exciting and flavorsome options to explore.