English: Duchesse de Bourgogne, Belgian beer

English: Duchesse de Bourgogne, Belgian beer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Duchesse de Bourgogne is a Flanders red ale-style beer produced by Brouwerij Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium. After a primary and secondary fermentation, this ale is matured in oak barrels for 18 months. The final product is a blend of a younger 8-month-old beer with an 18-month-old beer. The name of the beer is meant to honor Duchess Mary of Burgundy, the only daughter of Charles the Bold, born in Brussels in 1457, who died young in a horse riding accident. Like all Flemish red ales, Duchesse de Bourgogne has a characteristically sour, fruity flavor similar to that of lambic beers.

Beer in Mexico has a long history. While Mesoamerican cultures knew of fermented alcoholic beverages, including a corn beer, long before the Spanish conquest, European style beer brewed with barley was introduced with the Spanish soon after Hernán Cortés’ arrival. Production of this beer here was limited during the colonial period due to the lack of materials and severe restrictions and taxes placed on the product by Spanish authorities. After the Mexican War of Independence, these restrictions disappeared, and the industry was permitted to develop. However, the arrival of German immigrants and the short-lived empire of Austrian Maximilian I in the 19th century provided the impetus for the opening of many breweries in various parts of the country. By 1918, there were 36 brewing companies, but over the 20th century, the industry consolidated until today, only two corporations, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA control 90% of the Mexican beer market. This industry is one of the most prevalent in the country, with over 63% of the population buying one brand or another. Beer is also a major export for the country, with most going to the United States, but is available in over 150 countries in the world.

In Mexico, most beer is produced by two large conglomerates, Cervecería Modelo/Grupo Modelo and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma/FEMSA. Cervecería Modelo was founded in 1925 in Mexico City, with its first two brands, Modelo and Corona, exporting eight million bottles a year to various countries. First exports to the United States were realized as early as 1933. The first of the company’s many acquisitions was the Cervecería Toluca y México, absorbing its Victoria and Pilsener brands in 1935. Modelo continued buying smaller local breweries in various parts of the country, absorbing most of the brands produced and making many of them available nationwide. Starting in the 1980s, the enterprise began new businesses, such as INAMEX, which produces malt which lead to the name change to Grupo Modelo. During the same period, the company began exports of Corona beer to the United States, becoming the second most imbibed imported beer there by 1986. Exports to other countries followed, and Corona became the number one premium imported beer in the United States in 1997. Half of Grupo Modelo’s stock is owned by Anheuser Busch.

The beer-brewing division of FEMSA was created when this entity bought Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma, which itself was created when Cervecería Cuauhtémoc bought Cevecería Moctezuma. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc was founded in 1890 by Issac Garza, José Muguerza, Joseph M. Schnaider and Francisco Sada, selling their first beer, Carta Blanca. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc grew in size in Monterrey, and like Cervecería Modelo, went national as it began to buy smaller breweries in other parts of the country, absorbing many of the local brands and making them available nationally. The biggest acquisition was that of Cervecería Moctezuma in Orizaba in the 1980s. Cervecería Moctezuma started out as the Cervecería Guillermo Hasse y Compañia in 1893, and eventually changed its name to Cervecería Moctezuma. It was a major producer of beer since the early 20th century, and was one of the largest brewing companies in the world with the merger of the two, but the new company controls over twelve brand names. FEMSA bought the combined breweries to add to its other businesses, such as bottling and packaging enterprises.

FEMSA’s brands today include Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia and Noche Buena. Grupo Modelo’s brands include Corona, Corona Light, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial Victoria, Estrella, Léon and Montejo and Pacifico. Most of these beers are lagers brewed in large industrial plants, and made with minimal malt. Except for some dark beers, such as Dos Equis Ambar, León Negra, Negra Modelo and Noche Buena, which are Vienna-style beers, almost all beer produced in Mexico is pilsner. Beers with top fermentation had been produced in Mexico. The Cervecería Toluca was founded in 1865 by a Swiss especially to produce this type of beer, but the introduction of Bohemian style beers through the giant brewery Cuauhtémoc would define Mexican beer as pilsner.

One of the best known and most popular beers in the United States is Corona, which is the flagship beer of Grupo Modelo. Corona is the best-selling beer produced by Mexico, and the best selling nondomestic beer in both the U.S. and U.K. It is one of the five most-consumed beers in the world, available in more than 150 countries. It is a lager, and was created in 1925 to celebrate Cervecería Modelo’s tenth anniversary. Corona is light straw in color and has a very mild flavor, with little hop bitterness and 4.6% alcohol by volume. It is produced by eight facilities with a total of 4.6 billion liters per year capacity. Corona beer is available in a variety of bottled presentations, ranging from the 250-ml ampolleta (labeled Coronita and just referred as the cuartito (little quarter)) up to the 940-ml Corona Familiar (known as the caguama (sea turtle) or ballena (whale)). Unlike most beers, Corona is bottled in a clear bottle, increasing the opportunity for spoilage from sunlight, which can affect the hop oils in the beer. A draught version also exists, as does canned Corona in some markets.

The oldest and most traditional pilsner in Mexico is

If you have nice legs, why do you do this to them?

If you have nice legs, why do you do this to them? (Photo credit: Malingering)

, which has a significant hops flavor and is quite dense given its clarity. Bohemia has reached the respected distinction of being like one of the finest beers of the world. The name comes from the Bohemia region in the Czech Republic that is known for beer. It is one of the longest aged products from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc, and is the only one to use Lepa Styrian hops. There is a dark version of this brand, which is a Vienna-style beer. In 2009, the company introduced a wheat version of this beer called Bohemia Weizen made with wheat, Mount Hood hops, coriander and orange peel. It is the first wheat beer to be produced by a major beer company in Mexico.

Dos Equis was first brewed in Mexico by the German brewer Wilhelm Hasse in 1897. The original name of the beer was “Siglo XX” (20th Century) with the double X standing for the number 20, and it commemorated the arrival of that century. The original version is the Dos Equis Ambar, a Vienna-style dark beer. This was Cervecería Moctezuma’s best selling beer in the 1940s and 1950s. Demand for the beer has resurged, especially in the United States, where it is now the best-selling imported dark beer. The clear version of this brand is a lager derived from the Ambar.

Sol was introduced in the 1890s as El Sol. The name came from a ray of sunshine that fell on a pot while preparing the mash. After being off the market for many years, this brand was reintroduced in 1993, and is now exported to countries in Latin America, Europe, and Asia. It is a very light-colored beer with little hops flavor, and considered to be a beer for the young people and the working class. Sol is known for its sexy advertising. Sol comes in a number of varieties. Sol 2 is a stronger flavored beer, Sol limón and sal have lime and salt flavors already added, and there is a Sol Cero, a nonalcoholic beer in regular and lime and salt versions.

Tecate was originally brewed by Cervecería Tecate, and named after the city of Tecate, Baja California. The local brewery was bought by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma in 1955. It was the first beer to be canned in Mexico, with Tecate Light launched in Mexico in 1992. Tecate is one of the best-known brands in Mexico due to its patronage of sports teams and sporting events.

Noche Buena (literally Good Night, referring to Christmas Eve as the good night) is generally only available around Christmas. Many people wait for this beer’s availability each year between the months of October and December. Noche Buena is a strong-flavored, dark beer named after the poinsettia plant or noche buena in Spanish, which decorates the beer’s bottles and cartons.

Carta Blanca was Cervecería Cuauhtémoc’s first premium beer, first marketed in 1890, and is technically a pilsner. The name means “white card” in Spanish, which at the time was given to people as a sign of respect. Carta Blanca was successful when it debuted at Chicago’s Columbian Expo of 1893. Since then, the beer has won a number of other awards.

Negra Modelo is one of Cervecería Modelo’s original beers, and was first sold as a draft in 1926. While it has been classed as a Vienna-style beer, the company’s website now classifies it as a Munich dunkel (dark).

Pacífico, a Mexican pilsner beer originally brewed in Mazatlán, Sinaloa, is named after the Pacific Ocean. The picture on the bottle is the Deer Islands off the coast of Mazatlán surrounded by a lifesaver. Pacífico is Modelo’s best-selling beer in northwest Mexico, and it is exported to the southwest U.S. A light version of this beer was launched in 2008.

Estrella (Star) was originally brewed by Cervecería Estrella of Guadalajara at the end of the 19th century. This brewery was bought by Grupo Modelo in 1954. The beer is still brewed only in Guadalajara and is a regional brand, mostly sold in Jalisco state and other areas in western Mexico.

Indio was originally named Cuauhtémoc by Cervecería Cuauhtémoc. However, consumers soon began to refer to it as “Indian” for the image of an Indian on what was originally a clay bottle, now glass. The beer still has an image of Cuauhtémoc on the label.

Modelo Especial is Grupo Modelo’s second brand after Corona, and was first brewed in 1925. It is a pilsner-style beer that is available in both bottle and cans since 1966. It is second in popularity in Mexico and the company’s third best seller in the U.S. A light version, called Modelo Light, has been available since 1994.

Superior, made by Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma, was, as the name suggests, originally brewed to be a premium beer. Recently, interest in this beer has reappeared, and it received a gold medal at the Monde Selection in Brussels, Belgium. The design of the label has not changed in the fifty years this brand has been available.

Victoria was first brewed by Cervecería Toluca y México starting in 1865, but Modelo acquired the brand when they bought this company in 1935. It is sold in bottles, both the standard 325 ml and the large 950ml. The beer is a Vienna-style, but is an amber color and lighter than the other Vienna beers brewed in Mexico.

León and Montejo brands were originally brewed in Mérida, Yucatán by the Cervecería Yucateca, which was bought by Modelo in 1979. León is a Munich-style dark beer, which was initially brewed at the beginning of the 20th century in the southeast of the country. Montejo was first introduced in 1960 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Yucateca brewery. This brewery was bought by Grupo Modelo in 1979, and the packaging was changed to the current one in 1999. Post by Roald Smeets.