At A Glance
Beer: Modelo Especial
Pros: Cleanly brewed ordinary pale lager.
Cons: Lifeless, bland ordinary pale lager.
The Bottom Line: Typical light, gassy, mainstream industrial lager. Not an imaginitive brew, nor particularly interesting, but it will quench thirst on a hot day.
“Imported” labels aside, mainstream Mexican beers are really not that much better than mainstream domestic lagers. They are similar in style, similar in flavor, and similarly unremarkable. I find it odd though that so many people get sucked in by the “imported” image and somehow manage to convince themselves that they’re drinking something that’s different from their ordinary Bud or Miller or Whatever.
I drink these beers, but not always out of choice, and even though I can quaff a few while laying out on the beach and be perfectly happy with them, I still don’t think they are beers that truly compete on a purely gastronomic scale.
Modelo Especial is a case in point. Lots of folks have rated this beer extremely well. That’s their opinion. Unfortunately, most of those folks aren’t beer folks. They are regular Joes who don’t buy beers based on taste, but rather based on image, based on commercials, or based on whatever is on sale this week. Those aren’t good reasons to pick one beer over another, and I’d like to dispel the notion that this beer is some wonder-brew of the mega south. Is this a snob attitude? Probably. I know that I’m a beer snob. I’ve spent years drinking thousands of different beers, and I think I’m fairly unbiased when it comes to reviews, though of course mainstream lagers fare worse with me than other styles, but it’s because the taste and quality of the products justify the lower ratings. That’s just the way the world is…
A Cold Mug of Modelo Especial…
Always gotta use the right glassware for every beer I sample, and I think a light lager light this works well with your basic hefty glass mug (unfrosted, of course — I don’t want to blind myself to what little flavor is in this kind of beer!)
So, without further ado, let’s pop the tab on a can, and pour….
The beer pours with a very light yellow color (about 3-4 on the SRM scale) with a frothy white head and excellent clarity.
Light and spritzy with just the barest hint of grassy hops and a very slight tingly mineral scent that’s probably from the carbonation (carbonic acid). Generally clean with nothing offensive, but neither is there anything enticing.
Thin bodied with a light malt base with just a bit of corn sweetness to it. There is a faintly pungent hop spiciness, with a light bitter hop aftertaste. Typical for the style, the beer is a bit on the gassy side. The flavor is insipidly dull — which gets translated to “refreshing” if you prefer to speak marketing blather.
Not bad, but in the same way that a bottle of Ozarka water is “not bad”, and that’s not “good” if you’re talking beer…
BO-RING! This beer doesn’t really do anything for me. It’s pretty much indistinguishable from a hundred other light lager clone brands. It’s drinkable and refreshing enough if that’s all the bar has, and if you’re somewhere where the scenery and atmosphere is exciting enough to keep your mind off the dullness of the brew.
When you’re hanging out on one of the beautiful beaches of Mexico, you shouldn’t drink the water, but you SHOULD drink the beer. And at more than a few beach bars, you can only get one or two brands, and Modelo Especial will often be the best you can do. The beach is still great, and not even a mediocre beer can put a damper on that!
This is a very light-bodied American style pale lager (an offshoot of the pilsner style). This is, in my view, probably the blandest, least interesting style of beer on the market, although it accounts for well over 90% of beer sales throughout the Americas. Everyone knows the style — it’s Miller, Molson Beer, Coors, Bud, Corona, and a hundred others.
In it’s classic form, American pale lager is made using a grain base of 40 to 60% corn, with pale malted barley accounting for the rest. Some beers, such as Budweiser, use rice in place of corn, although that produces a lighter bodied, blander, less complex beer.
Color is always extremely pale yellow, hopping rates very low, and carbonation fairly aggressive — some say gassy.
About Grupo Modelo
Grupo Modelo is the biggest brewing company in Mexico and is based in Mexico City. They have breweries in several cities throughout Mexico, including Guadalajara. They are probably best known as the brewers of Corona, although that pale lager is far from being their best product. Within Mexico, their biggest selling brand is probably Modelo Especial, which is a better beer than Corona. My favorite beer from this brewery is the chocolatey smooth Negra Modelo.
It’s impossible to avoid drinking Modelo Especial if you travel often to Mexico, and I’ve quaffed quite a bit of this brew over the past few years. I don’t see my travel habits changing much in the future, so I might as well resign myself to the fact that I’ll be tasting quite a bit more of it. That’s not a terrible thing.
While Modelo Especial is hardly among my favorite beers, it is a refreshing light lager that tastes quite good while sitting on a beach doing nothing more important than counting the seagulls as they swoop around the surf and sand. This beer is probably the third best product from Grupo Modelo, a step behind Victoria and a light year behind Negra Modelo, both of which I recommend over this brew.