The three main darker beers made in Mexico we've found so far are made by the two big corporate beer giants in the country: FEMSA and Grupo Modelo. We put the three lagers Noche Buena, Negra Modelo, and Bohemia Obscura side by side to see how they compared.
METHOD: We chilled all three but failed to measure a temp for your geeky pleasure. We tasted them out of bottle and out of small footed rocks glasses. We tasted them chilled, then slightly warmer. We had them with and without food. We did not taste blindly. We're not gonna be so pompous to try to make you think we are beer connoisseurs. We're not gonna argue which is a Vienna lager versus Munich bock. We're not gonna get too deep on production process because we don't know all the information at this point about malting, fermentation, and aging of these beers, and as is typical, the companies' websites just give you basic marketing bullshit. This is our first beer review ever so we admit we are learning a lot about tasting and noting a beer's characteristics. We like beer. That's a good start.
DATE: Tuesday, December 2, 2009
TIME OF DAY: Morning before breakfast (and with) and evening with dinner.
About the beer: Bohemia takes its name from the Czech region that is one of the most recognized brewing areas in the world, the Czech state of Bohemia. The Bohemia brand was launched at the turn of the 20th century as Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma's finest beer. The parent company is FEMSA which also makes Tecate, Sol, and Dos Equis, among others. Over the years, Bohemia has become the most awarded of Mexican beer labels. Bohemia Obscura is darker than the Bohemia gold label. It also has a higher alcohol content bottled at 5.5% abv compared to 4.2% of the gold label. Price was 11 pesos for a 325ml. (Currently the dollar/peso exchange is 1 dollar to around 12-13 pesos.)
Packaging: Brown glass bottle with silver metalic accents on the label.Tasting notes: Amber color. Nut and coffee aromas. Lacing, retention bit better than the other two giving it the "best head" of the three. Caramel sweetness, toasted maltiness. Touch of pineapple fruitiness but less sweetness than the other two. A little bit maltier than Negro, but tad lighter in color than the others.
About the beer: The only Christmas beer in Mexico, Noche Buena is a dark, full-bodied brew owned by FEMSA. It was first introduced in 1924. Beer drinkers await its release every year between the months of October and December. Noche Buena means "pointsettia" and also refers to Christmas Eve. We paid 9 pesos for a 355ml bottle.
Packaging: Brown bottle with brightly colored gold and red label featuring a small red poinsettia.
Tasting notes: Color is clear, reddish tinge. Definitely darker of the three in color and more coppery red tones. A rapidly dissipating head. Nose comes across a lot sweeter than the other two, showing off sweet caramel, maltiness and a touch of toasted nuts. The sweet nose carried over into the tasting with the same caramel, malty, nutty, toasty appeal. The flavor is the maltiest and chewiest of the three. Hint of bitterness in the finish that's inviting. With the highest alcohol content of the three, Noche Buena flaunts a bigger body, bolder flavor than Bohemia Obscura and Negra Modelo. It is our most complex Mexican beer tasted to date and our favorite of the three; although, we will never be known to turn down the other two.
About the beer: First produced in 1926 in draft style. Today it is Mexico's best selling darker beer. Bottled at 5.3% abv. We paid 12 pesos for 355ml. This is the only one of the three we have found on draft or de barril, although that was not considered for this review. The bottled Negra is the only bottle of the three that is not disposable requiring a deposit.
Packaging: Like Bohemia, bottled in shorter necked bottle than Noche Buena. The label's metallic gold accents wear a golden yellow band.
Tasting notes: Head showed small lacing with off-white foam quickly dissipating. Amber color. The nose exhibits a chocolately appeal with a sweet maltiness in flavor that leads to a bitter cocoa finish.
Conclusion: These are definitely some of the more complex beers produced by big boys (and hopefully some girls) from Mexico. Our best summary is that these offer a hint of micro flavor with macro pricing at less than $1US a bottle. While we prefer these beers, the market sales show that light beers rule sales with Corona still leading the pack as the best selling beer from Mexico. We are still looking for Mexican micro-brews and will report as soon as we have a chance to find and taste.
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