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Every Mexican Beer We Could Find in Portland, Ranked

The best Mexican beer is also the worst Mexican beer.

As you may have inferred from Corona ads, summer is a time for lighthearted hijinks, impromptu dance parties on the beach, and crushing crisp, refreshing Mexican beers with your beautiful friends as the sun goes down.

Corona Extra is the most popular Mexican-brewed beer in the United States, but is it truly the best cerveza to Raise Summer™?

The answer is—literally and figuratively—yes and no.

We gathered a bunch of gringos to drink 17 beers—every Mexican lager we could find at Fred Meyer, Safeway and East Portland's Supermercado Mexico. We ran all of them through a blind taste test, without any limes to hide behind.

The results may surprise you.

1. Corona Extra (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 89 of 100

City of origin: Mexico City

The best Mexican beer is, as you will see, also the worst Mexican beer.

Grupo Modelo bottles some of its Corona Extra in 32-ounce, brown "ballena" bottles—intended to be shared family-style and labeled as "Corona Familiar." This Corona Extra has all the notes you want from an eminently quaffable Mexican beer: delicately malty with a rich, full finish and a hint of sulfur. It's the perfect beer to drink outside during some light physical activity.

Familiar is widely available in Mexico, but it can be tough to track down outside of Mexican grocery stores in the U.S. Look for it at Fred Meyer and Supermercado Mexico.

Tasting notes: "Real Mexican beer." "Very good. Perfectly smooth like a Mexican Budweiser, a little heavy on the finish." "One hundred emoji."

2. Negra Modelo (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 86

City of origin: Mexico City

Whether you want to call Negra Modelo a Vienna lager or a Munich dunkel—that's how Grupo Modelo is selling it these days—no one was surprised that Mexico's most beloved dark lager finished so high. The beer was instantly recognizable by its color and flavor, all toasted malt and dark caramel, with the gentle metallic finish we've come to know and love.

Tasting notes: "The GOAT. Smooth and caramelly with a metallic finish." "Tastes like flan." "Hello, old friend."

3. Bohemia (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 84

City of origin: Monterrey

The oldest Pilsner brewed in Mexico is also its finest. Bohemia was the only Pilsner on this list that lived up to the hoppy promise of its style. It has a lightly floral nose, crisp body and zesty, citrusy finish that ranks it alongside a classic German Pils.

Tasting notes: "Like a German Pilsner—hoppy, aromatic." "Weird and zesty. Very clean." "Like an IPA!" "Like Mexican Engelberg Pilsner. Engelberto."

4. Dos Equis Lager Especial (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 77

City of origin: Monterrey

Dos Equis' adjunct lager hits all of the notes desired from a Mexican beer: smooth, malty and gently sweet without any aggressive off flavors. Dos Equis' beers live up to their Interesting™ branding by actually trying to taste like something, and mostly something good.

Tasting notes: "Nice and grainy sweet." "Really smooth and grainy through the body. Tastes like a 'beer.'" "Sweet and grainy ricey goodness. Great cerveza."

Related: Best Low-Cost Mexican Spots in Portland

5. Dos Equis Azul (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 74

City of origin: Monterrey

We stumbled upon this previously unheard of wheat lager in a mixed "party pack" at Fred Meyer. Brewed with blue agave, Azul smells very strongly of spring flowers and orange blossom water, which masks an otherwise rocky flavor. It's almost like a mass-market, Mexican-beer take on a farmhouse ale, which certainly helped it stand out in a field of Pilsners and Vienna lagers.

Tasting notes: "Yeast made of flowers." "Lilacs and orange blossom water. Weirrrrrd." "Herbal tea perfumed."


6. Dos Equis Amber Lager (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 70

City of origin: Monterrey

Is that…wood? Dos Equis' Vienna lager tastes like it has spent time in a barrel. Unfortunately, that crisp, woody, upfront flavor rapidly fell off into an unpleasantly oxidized finish.

Tasting notes: "Aged? Woody and interesting, but very gross at the end." "Wood plus oxygen."

7. (tie) Sol and Tecate Light (both Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Scores: 64

Cities of origin: Monterrey, Tecate.

An adjunct and a light adjunct, respectively, Sol and slightly sulfuric Tecate Light managed to score this high by virtue of being almost completely flavorless, like someone whispering the word "beer" in your ear while you drink soda water.

Tasting notes: (Sol) "Cooked corn, slightly mineral. Not bad for a swimming trip." "Aggressively neutral." (Tecate Light) "Water plus sulfur equals summer?" "Ultra-light, tastes like a can." "Tastes like water."

9. Tecate (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 61

City of origin: Tecate

It might not be the greatest, but even in a conference room, Tecate's weird, funky aftertaste makes you feel like you're at a really cool house party.

Tasting notes: "Premonitions of armpit." "The aftertaste just keeps trudging into weirder territory."

10. Carta Blanca (Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma)

Score: 60

City of origin: Monterrey

CCM's first beer was WW projects editor Matthew Korfhage's pick for the sleeper hit of this tasting. Carta Blanca came up a little short with a metallic off flavor, but it was otherwise a smooth, drinkable Mexican Pilsner-style adjunct.

Tasting notes: "Metallic? But smooth." "Clean; makes me want a burrito."

11. Montejo (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 56

City of origin: Merida

For a Czech Pilsner, Montejo fell very short of any discernible hop flavor, and sat heavily on the tongue as a syrupy malt bomb.

Tasting notes: "A little too malty…not watery enough?" "Tastes like mud, in a gross way."

12. Pacifico (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 54

City of origin: Mazatlán

The faintly flavored Pilsner-style Pacifico would probably be an otherwise inoffensive beach beer if not for its prominent metallic sourness.

Tasting notes: "So twangy, but not in a cool guitar way. Oxidized." "Like someone left an old lime peel in it for a month."

13. Modelo Especial (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 45

City of origin: Mexico City

A light, Pilsner-style adjunct first brewed in 1925, Modelo Especial lacked any hop flavor and instead tasted like an oxidized, sickly version of its more refined partner, Negra Modelo.

Tasting notes: "Too sweet, too dark, just not right." "Malted weirdness, like a liver with frosting on topping.

14. Estrella (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 43

City of origin: Guadalajara

Anheuser-Busch InBev began importing Guadalajara's Pilsner-style Estrella earlier this year in an attempt to break into the Mexican beer market. Unfortunately for our multinational friends, there was no hop nose or flavor to be found. Instead, Estrella was sour and sharply metallic.

Tasting notes: "Tartly grainy; could maybe be hidden with lime?" "A little tart."

15. Victoria (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 38

City of origin: Toluca

We had high hopes for Mexico's oldest beer (est. 1865), expecting a classic, crisp Vienna lager. Instead, we got a wildly unbalanced, oxidized and syrupy mess.

Tasting notes: "Did they taste this when they bottled it?"

16. Corona Light (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 28

City of origin: Mexico City

All of our tasters burst into knowing laughter when we got a whiff of this light adjunct's infamous skunk. Corona Light's less aggressive sweetness made it a little more bearable than it's big brother.

Tasting notes: "Who farted?" "Did a skunk let loose on the bottling line?"

17. Corona Extra (Grupo Modelo)

Score: 22

City of origin: Mexico City

And we've come full circle. Grupo Modelo bottles some of its Corona Extra in 12-ounce, clear bottles. Stripped of flavor and odor-masking lime, Corona Extra served from a clear bottle is both viciously sour and sickly sweet…almost as though it has been spoiled by exposure to light.

Tasting notes: "Tastes like car sickness."

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