Confucious Say: A Beer in the Glass is Worth Two in the Fridge
At A Glance
Pros: Refreshing light-bodied pale lager
Cons: Ordinary and unexciting style
The Bottom Line: Do you like imported beers that look and taste like Miller or Coors? Then you’d probably like Superior. An average beer for average guys.
Superior is not among my favorite Mexican beers, and I can’t say that I’ve ever gone out of my way to buy it before. I don’t avoid it either. We seem to have a sort of understanding of mutual apathy. Yet, as I navigated my shopping cart through the aisles of the Soriana store near my brother-in-law’s house (where we were going for a carne asada), I found myself pulled forcibly towards the stack of Superior. It could have been magnetic pull on the shopping cart, but more likely it was the huge “Oferta! 98 Pesos c/carton” sign that was inexorably pulling me towards it. Ten bucks for a case of beer is pretty tough to beat no matter what color the money!
So I bought four cases for an evening with about 10 people. That might seem like a lot of beer to some folks, but keep in mind Einstein’s general theories of relativity. I’m talking about drinking all night with a bunch of Mexicans, not having a token toast with the neighborhood garden club. I would be lucky to escape with an unopened bottle. (Smart guy, that Einstein).
I’ll spare you the details of the cookout, save to say that the Superior went over real well and I actually ended up with several bottles to take home and sample under less rustic circumstances…and so, with that said, I’ll pop the bottle and pour…
The Beer in the Glass…
I like serving American lagers in heavy glass mugs or big deep schooners. I’ve chosen a big glass mug for this. While U.S. bartenders might think it’s cool to freeze the mugs down just a bit below absolute zero, try to avoid the temptation so that your beer’s flavors can be alive enough to dance across your tongue at least a little bit…
The beer kicks up a big frothy head as I pour it slowly down the side of the mug then tip the mug up and let the last portion of the bottle pour straight into the mug, producing a big head that just spills a tiny stream down the side of the glass — perfect!
The beer is extremely pale yellow in color (less than 2 SRM) with absolutely brilliant clarity. Flawless appearance for style.
The aroma is very delicate and light. There’s a little bit of sweet corn in there, along with a hint of soft dry grass that I attribute to hops. The hops aroma is subdued though and not particularly noteworthy. The beer smells fresh and inoffensive, but there’s also nothing that really screams out “I’m special!”
Light-bodied and spritzy with a little bit of sweet malt character. Although I expected to catch a bit of corn in the flavor, I’m really not picking it up at all. The beer is extremely well balanced with just a little bit of earthy and grassy tone to the hops. With the second tasting I’m also picking up a little bit of a citric edge on that grassy hops flavor — almost like the barest suggestion of lemon grass. The beer is slightly dry on the mouthfeel and is very refreshing. This is an outstanding warm weather beer and I think in terms of similarity to other local brands, remarkably similar to Pacifico.
A Matter of Style…
This is a very light-bodied American style pale lager (an offshoot of the pilsner style). In my humble opinion, this is probably the blandest, least interesting style of beer on the market, but it accounts for more than 90% of beer sales in the U.S.
Everyone knows the style — it’s Miller, Coors, Molson, 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, 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.
Superior is regarded as more of a “premium” brand in Mexico than it is a “mainline” brand. That is, it’s regarded as distinguished enough to drink in polite company, not just in the yard or at a ball game. I think it probably competes most against Modelo Especial, though it sells substantially less.
What Superior lacks in market share it makes up for in heritage. The beer has been brewed by Cerveceria Cuahtemoc Moctezuma (the Dos XX guys) for more than a century and is one of the original brands of the Cuahtemoc brewery.
I think I actually prefer this beer over the much more popular Dos XX Lager [review], produced by the same brewery. While I’m not a huge fan of the whole genre of light pale bodied lager beers, I grudgingly admit that this would be a great beer to have while sitting under a palapa out on the beach…or maybe even at a carne asada on a beautiful fall evening. Salud!