Beer aficionados may find Corona to be too simple a brew, but this Mexican lager is astoundingly popular because of its approachable and crisp flavor profile.
Style: Mexican lager
Company: Grupo Modelo/Constellation Brands
Brewery Location: Mexico, Nava and Obregon breweries
MSRP: $16 per 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles
- Affordable and widely available Mexican lager that’s known for its drinkability
- Refreshing, crisp and uncomplicated
- A bit of skunkiness on the palate that some find unappealing
- Some may consider it too basic compared to other lagers.
Color: Corona is lighter than some of its competitors, with a light yellow hue in the glass that’s reminiscent of straw or faded copper.
Nose: Some sweet malt and a bit of that signature skunkiness come through on the nose, along with a hint of citrus and green apple.
Palate: Corona is immediately recognizable on the palate, with a sharp effervescence that immediately starts at the tip of your tongue and travels upward. From there, the sweetness intensifies but stops short of sugary as a bit of bitterness comes into play. These notes are all very mild, with a bit of muted orange and grain rounding out the palate.
Finish: There’s a slight bitter hit on the finish, but this fades fairly quickly, leaving you with a touch of sugar and lingering bubbles on your tongue and in the back of your throat.
Corona is a light and crisp pale Mexican lager that’s wildly popular in the U.S. Its flavor profile is not overly complex, with sweet notes and a bit of hoppy skunkiness on the palate that places it squarely between mass-produced light American lagers and heavier, more complex beer from Europe.
The past year has been a banner year for the brand, despite production having to briefly shut down during the pandemic. Grupo Modelo produces this lager in several breweries throughout Mexico, and while that company is owned by beer giant AB InBev, Constellation Brands controls distribution in America and imports the brand. Corona was first brewed at Cervecería Modelo in Mexico City in the 1920s, and within a decade it became the best-selling beer in that country. If you notice some crossover between Corona and German-style lagers, there’s a good reason for that: The beer’s original brewer was German immigrant Adolf H. Schmedtje, who brought with him the techniques, traditions and preferred flavor profile of his home country.
It should be noted that Corona, known worldwide for its light yellow color that’s immediately visible in the clear bottles it comes in, is not the most complex of beers. But that’s not the point here. This pale lager is meant to be enjoyed without thinking about it too much and marketed toward popping open in the summer while relaxing on the beach or grilling some burgers. People often stick a wedge of lime in the bottle’s neck to add a bit of tartness to the beer (and, some might say, to enhance the flavor)—a tradition that dates back decades. Its carbonation is lively but not overpowering, and its palate is bright and unassertive with notes of grass, malt, sweetness and just the slightest whiff of hops. This will certainly not be the first choice of craft beer fans who are looking for higher hops levels or more complex flavors. But Corona is brewed to be accessible and enjoyable for the masses, and in that, the brand has been very successful.
Corona costs just a few more dollars than its competitors, placing it in the low- to mid-range of pricing. And it’s as ubiquitous as large American brands, such as Budweiser or Coors, available at nearly every store, bar or restaurant throughout the U.S.
Corona wasn’t introduced in the U.S. until 1981, more than five decades after it was created in Mexico.
The bottom line: Corona is the kind of lager you don’t have to think much about, and that’s just fine for many beer drinkers throughout the world, as proven by its popularity.