Ten of the Best Mexican-Style Lagers

By Cat Wolinski, Vinepair

Mexican-style lager, or those beers made to replicate Mexican favorites like CoronaModeloPacíficoTecate, and more, is a difficult category to define. On one hand, there’s no official distinction between an American lager and a lager made with the same or similar ingredients, only with Mexican brewing history in mind. On the other hand, Mexican lagers are one of the most enjoyed beer styles by American drinkers. At last count, the top 10 best-selling beers in America saw Corona Extra and Modelo Especial at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively.

At their corn-flavored core, Mexican lagers are crisp, refreshing, and repeatable. In terms of ingredients, most feature flaked maize (corn), along with pilsner or Vienna malt; and German noble hops for a spiced, balancing bitterness. They’re made to drink cold, and quickly, often benefiting from a squeeze or two of lime to add a zesty edge. That leaves the main difference between these lagers and U.S.-brewed Mexican-style lagers: geography.

As VinePair’s lager-loving editors began preparing for this tasting (in March — we needed it), we set a goal to find as many Mexican-style lagers as possible that are available for distribution in some states, and that we haven’t tasted and ranked before. (For those we had tasted and ranked, such as Ska Mexican Logger21st Amendment El Sully, and Lone Tree Mexican Lager, this year we tasted and thanked.) Then, lime wedges in hand, we ventured into the great unknown of Mexican-inspired craft beer brands.

What we found was more flavor and brand variety than years past, from catchy names and label designs to curious collaborations that ultimately impressed. We’re also seeing more craft brands incorporate lime flavor into their brews for a built-in approach — a much-appreciated addition in almost half of the beers below, though we find it’s almost always better (and more fun) to slice and squeeze some fresh lime, too.

SLO Brewing’s Tío Rodrigo brand created this “Tortilla Chip Lager” (as the can denotes) with Taco Works, a family owned and operated company that’s been churning out mouthwatering tortilla chips for San Luis Obispo residents since 1976. Yes, the beer is actually brewed with tortilla chips, along with lime zest and natural spices. A whiff of lime on the nose sweeps into a crisp, refreshing lager with definite tortilla chip flavor on the finish.

"Yes, the beer is actually brewed with Taco Works tortilla chips"

Cat Wolinski - Vinepair

Overall, our tasting gave us a broader perspective of what American-brewed Mexican lager can be, and a lot to be excited about drinking for the remainder of 2021.