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History of Mexican Beer

Home >> Restaurant and Nightlife Directory >> Mexico Drinks >> Beer in Mexico >> History of Mexican Beer

 Beer HistoryMexican beer dates back to before the arrival of European conquistadors in America. As in most early societies, Mayas and Aztecs were brewing grain-based alcoholic beverages (primarily from corn) long before the Spanish arrived in Mexico, in addition to pulque, an indigenous fermented drink made from the sap of the agave plant, and the precursor of distilled tequila. But it was the influx of German immigrants and the influence of a brief Habsburg rule over the country in the middle of the 19th century that helped cement the art of brewing as an all-Mexican endeavor. Mexico spent four years under Austro-German emperor Maximilian, who apparently never traveled without his brewmasters. As a result, two of the more popular brands of Mexican beer – Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Ámbar – come from the darker, more malty subset of German lagers known as Vienna style. While not as weighty as most British ales, the Mexican Viennas are fuller bodied with more malt sweetness and character than the pale pilsners.
Much of early development in the brewing industry was done by immigrants of Germanic backgrounds. The first lager beer brewery in Mexico was La Pila Seca, founded in 1845 by Swiss immigrant Bernhard Bolgard. This was followed by the opening of the Cervecería Toluca y México, by another Swiss, Agustín Marendaz in 1865, and Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, founded in Mexico City in 1869 by Alsatian immigrant Emil Dercher. Cruz Blanca survived well into the 20th century. While at first, most modern brewers were small operations, by 1890, the first substantial, industrial brewing facility in the country was built in Monterrey. Four years later another large brewery opened in Orizaba. The industrialization of the Mexican beer business was on.

Prohibition in the United States in the 1920s significantly boosted the Mexican brewing industry as Americans flocked to border cities to purchase and consume alcohol. Several new breweries opened on the Mexican side of the border, including both the Mexicali Brewery and the Aztec Brewing Company in Mexicali, capital of Baja California.

Cerveza Today
Today, most Mexican beers are produced by the two beer giants, FEMSA and Grupo Modelo. FEMSA is a general beverage corporation whose roots date to back to 1890 and the first large Mexican brewery, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc in Monterrey. With their brands Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia and Noche Buena FEMSA is a major international brewer. Grupo Modelo has fewer brands but a larger part of the Mexican beer export market with Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial, and Pacífico, their five export brands. They also brew brands intended solely for the domestic market: Victoria (a recent advertising campaign for this brand was centered around the fact that it is unavailable abroad); Estrella (a local beer found only in the west of the country; and León and Montejo (originally local to Yucatán but nowadays available nationwide). Grupo Modelo is 51 per cent owned by Anheuser-Busch but, due to a special arrangement, control of the company remains with Modelo's Mexican shareholders.
Corona is the flagship beer of Grupo Modelo. It is a very light lager, and the number one imported beer in the world. Corona is the best-selling non-domestic beer in both the U.S. and U.K. Many say the brand's marketing and easy drinkability account for its success, as many beer aficionados agree that other Mexican lagers such as Dos Equis, Bohemia, Victoria, and Negra Modelo are far superior. While aficionados often argue that a beer of "superior" quality is one with a strong taste, consumers often prefer one with a simpler flavor.

Limes in Mexican Beer
No discussion of Mexican beer would be complete without mentioning the lime. Serving Mexican beers, especially the light lagers such as Corona, with a slice of lime, is done primarily for tourists. Outside the tourist areas, and among native Mexicans, it is considerably less prevalent. However, a traditional drink does exist known as the michelada, which is a drink composed of mostly light beer with a lot of lime juice (the equivalent of several chunks of lime). Currently, there are new mexican beers with stronger flavours. If you like European beers you can try these beers: Potro and Caballero Águila. It`s a little difficult find them, but they are good beers.

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