Ruben Hernandez

The cerveza report

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Bohemia-ClassicaMost of the popular Mexican beer brands Americans consume today were created by smaller breweries that were swallowed up in the buy-outs. Although almost all beer produced in Mexico is pilsner, the lagers are made with minimal malt. The dark beers are Vienna-style beers. 

Modelo’s biggest-selling brands are Modelo and Corona. Other brands put out by Modelo include Negra modelo, Pacífico, Estrella, and Especial Victoria. Half of Modelo’s stock is owned by Anheuser-Busch now. FEMSA produces well-liked brands such as Dos Equis, Bohemia, Tecate, Carta Blanca, Indio and Noche Buena, a Christmas-time brew.  

In 2003, Mexico replaced The Netherlands as the worldwide leader in beer sales; its primary consumer market was its northern neighbor, the United States. Mexican beer sales in the U.S. compete with the largest U.S. beer producer, Anheuser-Busch, and the Canadian beer producer, Molson. FEMSA has paired with the Dutch corporation, Heineken USA, to distribute and promote its brands.

As the Hispanic population continues to grow, marketing-savvy beer-producers are already starting to target this consumer segment, especially the young, bicultural Hispanic Millennials. U.S. Latinos lean toward Mexican imports, but Bud Light edges out the foreigners as the número uno beer of choice; it’s the world’s best-selling beer according to Anheuser-Busch.

One Mexican import that is specifically being marketed to younger, bicultural U.S. Hispanics is Mexico’s Indio brand beer. Indio was launched in Phoenix and Tucson early last month. This brand was created in Mexico in 1893 as Cerveza Cuauhtémoc in honor of the last Aztec emperor. Mexicans nicknamed the brew, “Indio,” and the company officially changed its name in 1905. The marketing pitch of Heineken USA, which is importing Indio, is that Millennials, who are “passionate about music, art and lead independent lifestyles,” will love this dark brew. 

There are five imported Mexican beers that are most popular among U.S. beer lovers. Corona, as its name signifies, is the crown king of beer sales in the United States and United Kingdom. It is one of the five most consumed beers in the world. It is a lager, straw in color, with a mild flavor and a hint of hop bitterness. Bohemia is the oldest pilsner in Mexico. The name comes from the Bohemia region in the Czech Republic that is famed for its beer. It is aged longer than other beers, and has dark and wheat versions. Dos Equis was created in Mexico by German brewer, Wilhelm Hasse, in 1897. There are light and dark versions. This brand is the best-selling imported dark beer in the U.S. Tecate was named after the city of Tecate, Baja California. It was the first beer to be canned in Mexico. Pacífico is a pilsner beer named for the Pacific Ocean. Its label depicts the Deer Islands off the Mazatlán coast. It is Modelo’s best-selling beer in northwest Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. 

Since the United States started importing Mexican cerveza in the early 1900s, the U.S. beer-consuming market has been influenced by both Mexican beer and culture. Prohibition in the United States during the 1920s boosted the Mexican beer industry as American beer lovers regularly crossed the border to enjoy brews. Later, when the anti-drinking law was lifted, Americans had already developed a taste for Mexican brews, and became loyal customers when Mexico-based beer producers began exporting in earnest to this country.   

Far away from the Mexican border in Florida, Cubans and Puerto Ricans are creating culturally-inspired beer flavors and names. It appears they’d like to give Mexico’s beers competition as the dominant brews in the U.S. and, according to beer industry statistics, traditional large breweries are losing U.S. market share to niche craft-beer companies. 

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