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Thursday, December 8, 2022

Beyond Corona: Learn to pair Mexico’s favorite beers with food

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
There is so much more to Mexican beer than just Corona. All cards on the table, Indio is a personal favorite as it goes with just about everything. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Mexicans love beer and have been brewing up different varieties for centuries in extremely large amounts. As a matter of fact, Mexico is one of the largest beer producers in the world, ranking third by total volume after only the United States and China.

In 2020, Mexican beer exports reached nearly US$5 billion, with the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom as its largest clients. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Several Mexican beer brands including Modelo, Sol, and XX Lager are extremely popular abroad. In some cases, their marketing efforts have become so successful, that for most people brands like Corona are practically synonymous with Mexico and its beaches. 

Like in most markets, Mexican beers come in a variety of sizes and presentations, each with its own targeted demographic. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

When it comes to pairing Mexican beer with food there are a few general rules of thumb, but most people just stick to what they know and already enjoy.

The following pairings are by no means exhaustive or authoritative and cover several of Mexico’s most popular brands. Here is my own completely debatable list of harmonious beer and food pairings.

Pacifico Clara and seafood

For many, seafood in Mexico is synonymous with extremely light beers such as Corona or Sol. The appeal of this approach is based on these beer brands’ crispness and light flavor and is understandable. However, for those who enjoy a little more body to their beer, Pacifico Clara is a great choice. This blond beer is also very crisp but has much more body and is a favorite when it comes time to order dishes such as fried fish or ceviche. 

Pacifico’s label features a lifesaver encircling a ship’s anchor. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gacht

Minerva Vienna and red meat

The history of the Minerva brewery dates to only 2004, making it a relative newcomer on the Mexican market. However, since that time, the beer has exploded in popularity. The brand’s malt Vienna variant is very well balanced and easy to drink, with nutty undertones which complement steak and any other beefy meal.  

Though Minerva likes to market itself as a craft beer, it can be purchased at most major grocery stores in Mexico and is produced in fairly large batches. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Montejo Clara and panuchos / salbutes

Brewed in Yucatán since 1900. Montejo is one of Yucatán’s most recognizable brands. Named after the conquistadors who colonized the Peninsula, this beer pairs particularly well with Yucatecan favorites such as panuchos and salbutes. Montejo Clara has a nice golden color and is a fairly easy-drinking golden lager with an ample amount of hops, but is still refreshing. 

Since Montejo began exporting to the United States, it has become quite popular with Yucatecan immigrants, especially in California, looking for a taste of home: Photo Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Indio and Lebanese food

Brewed since 1893, Indio has undergone a bit of a renaissance in the past decade or so. Though it had long been available in a handful of regional markets, the brand has been widely available throughout Mexico for the past decade. It is brewed from barley and corn and has an extremely pleasant aroma. Personally, I think it is perhaps one of the best easily accessible, mass-produced beers in Mexico. 

Indio’s label features a prehispanic warrior complete with a headdress, spear, and shield. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Bohemia Pilsner and hamburgers

Pilsners are not that common in Mexico, though Bohemia’s take on the Czech style is an exception. Bohemia’s Pilsner pours a nice amber color and has a foamy white head. It has certain grassy tones but is less bitter than many other pilsner as it is quite well balanced. It is also considerably less heavy than many of its counterparts, making it ideal for heavier meals while at the same time not being too filling. 

Bohemia Pilsner is considered by many in Mexico to be one of the best widely available beers in the country. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

XX Lager and tacos

XX Lager has long been one of the most readily available brands of beer on the Mexican and international markets. It is fairly sweet when it first hits your lips with a high level of carbonation that quickly diminishes. As it is not particularly heavy, it is rather nice with tacos of just about every variety, but especially tacos al pastor. 

XX Lager is a crisp, refreshing, light-bodied malt-flavored beer with a well-balanced finish that also goes rather well with seafood. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Modelo Especial and poc chuc

Technically, Modelo Especial is a pilsner but is lacking the body of traditional pilsners as it is much too light to really carry that designation. It is golden in color and pours quite nicely, so it’s best enjoyed in a nice clear cold glass. Modelo Especial pairs particularly well with pork dishes such as poc chuc and cochinita pibil and as a result is popular in pork crazy Yucatán. 

Modelo Especial has a particularly nice aroma, but also a very light level of bitterness and amount of carbonation. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Has your favorite not made the list? If so let us know and make sure to check back again soon for our next installment. 

Earlier: Pair wines from Mexico with casual meals on the terrace

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