Given the record-setting success of Mexican beer imports to the United States, it’s no surprise that many U.S. craft brewers are releasing their own versions of the style. Each aims for Tecate-style light body, delicate hops, and optimum refreshment.
VinePair tasted more than a dozen Mexican-style lagers from breweries across the U.S. The following are our favorites. Consider this your Mexican-style lager 6-pack, inspired by our neighbors to the south.
Kansas City, Mo.
This Mexican-style lager from Kansas City’s Boulevard Brewing is best suited for those who prefer a bolder brew (and fans of the Kansas City Royals, for whom the beer was brewed). It pours a sparkling straw color with a stronger aroma than many other Mexican-style lagers. “Like freshly cut grass the next morning, when it’s covered in dew,” one taster said. Its light flavor had subtle notes of sage and honey.
Denver and Salt Lake City
Made with lime and sea salt, Los Locos pours cloudy gold. Its flavor reminded one taster of a lemon gose, with notes of “hotel cucumber water.” Another taster said it’s “like a beer in a Margarita glass, with salt and lime.” Salty and citric, this riff on the Mexican lager was the most refreshing of the bunch. It begs to be paired with a spicy dish, like pozole or Panang curry.
Bill Graham, Ska Brewing co-founder, started making this seasonal 20 years ago for the “closet Pacifico drinker.” The seasonal release is brewed with a yeast strain from Mexico City, and Saaz hops. Mexican Logger has an herbal, slightly piney hop character and pleasant, pilsner-y note, “like a Bohemian-style pilsner,” one taster said. It has a light body and a touch of bitterness on the finish. “I’m drinking this in a park barbecue at dusk, having one before it’s time to go home,” imagined one panelist.
San Leandro, Calif.
This year-round offering from 21st Amendment includes pilsner and Vienna malts, flaked maize, and flaked barley in its grain bill. Pale yellow with a white head, it has a bit of a zesty note, followed by a pithy finish. “I have a taco in one hand and this beer in the other,” one taster said. (She wishes.) “Feels refreshing, like a real, classic lager,” said another. 21st Amendment calls El Sully a beach beer, but our panel agrees it’s a tasty addition to your cooler in any season.
Lone Tree, Colo.
One of the only flagship beers on this list, Lone Tree’s Mexican Lager was the first craft beer to beat Pabst Blue Ribbon at the Great American Beer Festival in the American Light Lager category. Our tasters initially detected some sulfur on the nose, but this eventually dissipated, replaced by wheat and pilsner malt aromas. On the palate, a slightly sweet note from flaked corn is followed by faint lemon and a bready finish.
Released in February 2019, this Saint Archer lager pours gold and clear. A sweet and herbal note reminded one taster of “corn bread with herbs,” while another taster craved “tortilla chips with a fresh cilantro salsa.” Ripe fruit on the palate with slight bitterness on the sides of the tongue were perfectly placed, and a perfect accompaniment for an “Oaxaca-cheese-topped, green-sauce-soaked chicken enchilada platter,” said another taster. Overall, this Mexican-style lager was the most evocative, while still being light and sessionable.