Four Brewers | The Mexican Lager Showdown
Season 4, Episode 34 – It’s been a while since we’ve had a showdown-throwdown, so this week, we’re going south of the border with a Mexican-style lager showdown!
Showdowns are probably one of the most interesting and fun things we do here at Four Brewers. Not only is it a challenge breaking down each beer in an uber-critical way, it’s fun to find out which beers were which in the end, which beers we loved, and more curiously, which beers we hated. Inspired by AleSmith Brewing Company’s recent release of their collaboration Mexican-style lager with the band Sublime, we decided it was time for another showdown.
Here are the beers that we sampled in the showdown, listed in the order they were served:
Beer #1: Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Dos Equis Special Lager
Beer #2: Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Tecate
Beer #3: Grupo Modelo – Victoria
Beer #4: 21st Amendment Brewery – El Sully
Beer #5: Grupo Modelo – Corona Familiar
Beer #6: Grupo Modelo – Corona Extra
Beer #7: Ironfire Brewing Company – Stetsons and Sombreros
Beer #8: Thorn St. Brewing – Barrio
Beer #9: Grupo Modelo – Modelo Especial
Beer #10: Margaritaville Brewing Company – Landshark Lager
Beer #11: Ska Brewing – Mexican Logger
Beer #12: Grupo Modelo – Pacifico Clara
Beer #13: Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Carta Blanca
Beer #14: Grupo Modelo – Estrella Jalisco
Beer #15: AleSmith Brewing Company – Sublime Mexican Lager
Beer #16: Epic Brewing Co – Los Locos (Not in the competition)
Results and rankings:
#15 Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Carta Blanca
Average Score: 0.58
“Offensively horrible” was how the smell rang off the bat. The skunky, funky smell led John to not even want to drink the beer. Jason and Greg tried it and described it as “bike tires and skunk”. This beer had more off flavors than regular flavors and got the lowest score ever in our showdowns.
#14 Grupo Modelo – Corona Extra
Average Score: 48.00
Corona was actually featured twice in the showdown, one being Corona Extra and the other Corona Familiar. Apparently, they are the same beer in different packaging. Matt was being tricksy and gave us Corona Extra after Corona Familiar. The Corona Extra came from a 24oz tall can. The aroma threw the gang off (spoilers!) again, with some sulfury, farty characters. Jason got metallic this time, and otherwise the beer didn’t ring well with the gang at all. Corona in a can scored even worse than the bottle, finishing second to last for the day.
#13 Ironfire Brewing Company – Stetsons and Sombreros
Average Score: 49.33
The first flavor profile off this beer was corn. After a bit more analysis, the gang eventually picked out green apple flavor. The general off flavors in this beer led it to score 13th for the day. This registered to the gang as a good beer that went bad.
#12 Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Dos Equis Special Lager
Average Score: 60.00
Right off the bat, this beer had low carbonation and was corny. It was very light in color, and actually very light in general. Jason and John grabbed a bit of a biscuit character, but the defining characteristic of this beer for the crew was lightness. While this beer lacked in off flavors, the low carbonation and lack of character led to this one being near the bottom of the pack.
#11 Thorn St. Brewing – Barrio
Average Score: 61.33
Similar to #7, this beer gave a big corn character to the gang. But, when they drank it the flavor also rang a bit off. Over extracted, tannic, and earthy were the notes that came to mind. It ended up scoring toward the bottom of the pack.
#10 Grupo Modelo – Pacifico Clara
Average Score: 62.67
Tobacco was a smell that came from this one, which was unique to the group of beers. Greg got a medicinal smell, while Jason hated the beer and guessed it had been smuggled over in a box truck. John and Greg thought it was more middle of the road, and in the end, this finished at the middle of the pack.
#9 Grupo Modelo – Corona Familiar
Average Score: 65.00
Corona managed to appear twice in this contest, Familiar being the large format brown bottle. The nose on the beer rang metallic and had that signature “cheap beer” smell that the Cheap Beer Corner guys were used to. Jason got a cloying, sweet taste from the beer that made it register as not all that great for him. The other guys gave it middling rankings as well, and it ended up near the bottom half of the pack.
#8 Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma S.A. de C.V – Tecate
Average Score: 67.00
This beer differentiated right off the bat by having a nice foamy head on the top. The nose put the gang off with some plastic vinyl kind of characters. The bigger body brought it up a bit, but the flavor profile rang the wrong bell with Jason and the guys and led to this beer being squarely in the middle of the pack.
#7 Grupo Modelo – Estrella Jalisco
Average Score: 75.00
Skunkiness returns in beer #14, but not anywhere near the huge amount that came through in Carta Blanca. After the skunk blew off, this one had a solid flavor profile that the guys liked quite a bit. Overall it was a solid beer with a bit of an off nose that blew off, and finished towards the upper half of the group.
#6 Grupo Modelo – Victoria
Average Score: 76.33
This beer immediately registered as darker than the rest of the pack. It felt like it was a deep golden color, halfway between an amber beer and the normal light “cerveza”. Jason and John got a big biscuity bread flavor on this beer that Jason especially liked, but Greg smelled a bit of vinyl and thought it was a bit thin. Overall on the strength of Jason’s high marks this beer cruised to a decent overall score.
#5 AleSmith Brewing Company – Sublime Mexican Lager
Average Score: 78.33
Another deep, golden-colored beer similar to Victoria, that made it clearly stand out. The guys smelled “craft beer notes” on this and Jason picked up a bit of cherry aroma. After further analysis, Greg got a bit of huskiness, Jason got squaw bread character, and John got a really big corn aroma and flavor. Overall, the big flavor led this beer to fifth place overall.
#4 Grupo Modelo – Modelo Especial
Average Score: 83.33
Having a bit more color than the rest of the beers in the showdown initially set this beer apart. It smelled like a bit of malt, or as John would say, “a macro beer”, but everyone loved how refreshing the beer was. Jason wanted a bit more robust flavor, but the gang liked it all quite a bit, and it ended up scoring the highest of the beers actually from Mexico.
#3 Margaritaville Brewing Company – Landshark Lager
Average Score: 84.33
Despite being packaged in a clear bottle, this beer didn’t ring skunky to the gang at all. It also impressed visually with a fluffy head and a very clear, light color. The mouthfeel impressed everyone with how soft the beer felt. Greg dinged it a bit for being under carbonated, and the beer flavor came in as mild. In the end, the soft, drinkable character led this beer to high scores and an overall third place finish.
#2 Ska Brewing – Mexican Logger
Average Score: 88.67
As with most of the group, this beer looked very clear and light. The head was noticably more present in this beer, and the aroma had a lot more going on than the rest of the pack. Herbal hop notes and a honey character set this beer apart from the group. We correctly picked this beer out as a “craft” version as it was a bit bigger and more aggressive than the rest, but overall everyone liked it enough to put it solidly in second place.
#1 21st Amendment Brewery – El Sully
Average Score: 90
Lighter than light with a nice fluffy head, this beer won high marks for its appearance and presentation. The aroma had a bready, grainy character and an herbal Noble hop presence that hit the gang just right. Greg loved the flavor so much that he gave the beer a perfect 100, and the other guys weren’t much farther behind. Jason felt like the aftertaste threw it off a bit for him, but John liked it very much, launching El Sully to the top spot of the day.
Well, There you have it! There are certainly many more Mexican-style Lagers out there, so get some for yourself and get to tasting!
BREW THE SHIT OUT OF IT.
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