Corona Familiar may not be nearly as popular as its clear-bottled cousin, but it stands out as a maltier and more full-bodied Mexican-style lager. Its biscuity flavor profile and smooth finish make it an easy pairing for a wide range of foods and a superb party beer.
Style: Mexican adjunct lager
Company: Corona (AB InBev, Grupo Modelo)
Brewery Location: Mexico
MSRP: $14 per 6-pack of 12-ounce bottles
- Fuller-bodied, malty and crisp on the finish
- Packaged in light-protecting brown bottles and cans
- Widely available in a 32 oz. bottle format
- Slightly higher ABV than Corona Extra
- It’s not as complex as some other imported lagers in this category.
- Carbonation dissipates fast when poured or left open.
- Some may find it too heavy when compared to Corona Extra.
Color: This beer is pale straw in the glass, barely a degree darker than Corona Extra, that pours with a minimal head that dissipates before the second sip.
Nose: The nose is malt-driven, driving the smell of biscuits and fresh white bread to the forefront, most notably lacking the “skunked” smell of Corona Extra poured from a clear bottle. Some hints of grassiness develop, however, especially as the beer sits open or in a glass.
Palate: It may be more full-bodied than its clear-bottled cousin, but this beer still refreshes as it washes across the palate. It’s clearly richer with a more pronounced malt and cereal presence upfront, distinctly lacking the cut grass and “skunked” aromas of Corona Extra and falling more in line with other traditional light-colored Mexican lagers.
Finish: The fine carbonation of the beer creates a crisp, zippy finish, solidifying this as a refreshing option. Notes of grain linger as a long aftertaste.
Even if you rarely or never drink beer, it would be fair to say that it’s practically impossible to be unfamiliar with Corona. The beer in the iconic clear glass bottle is the best-selling imported beer in the United States, having become synonymous with warm-weather drinking thanks to decades-long ad campaigns featuring buckets of the brews sweating beads of condensation on white sandy beaches with crystal clear blue waters. But it’s important to remember that even as part of the AB InBev and Grupo Modelo brewing conglomerate based in Mexico, there’s more than one beer that bears the Corona moniker.
Corona Familiar may not be anywhere near as widely recognized as its beachy cousin, Corona Extra, but it stands out as a fuller-bodied alternative that will still manage to please a crowd. When coming across it in the store aisle, the first thing you’ll likely notice is the packaging: Corona Familiar uses brown glass bottles or cans in place of clear glass. While this might seem like a simple aesthetic swap, it actually has a significant impact on the beer’s flavor, preventing it from becoming light-struck and creating “skunky” off-flavors of cut grass that are a trademark feature of Corona Extra. To be fair, some people enjoy and seek out this defect, but many who’ve let their bottle rest in their hand too long on the beach can attest that the overpowering aromas that develop can be seriously off-putting, especially as the beer warms up.
Then there’s the matter of Corona Familiar’s flavor profile. The lager has a fuller-bodied texture on the palate that’s richer with flavors of cereal and grain than its light-bodied relative but still brings a refreshingly crisp finish. The more robust profile allows it to stand up better alongside food, especially light party fare and appetizers. And unlike Corona Extra, there’s no need for the trademark squeeze of lime to boost the flavor (but no one would stop you if you really wanted to, of course).
Corona Familiar will likely win over anyone who reaches for full-bodied domestic or import lagers over light beers. Of course, it may not knock the socks off your seasoned craft beer fan who’s likely looking for something a little more nuanced, but its existence in the shadow of its clear-bottled cousin also makes it a point of curiosity for the many who’ve never actually tried it. Price-wise, it’s still comparable to imported lagers from Mexico and elsewhere, but it’s also available in a signature 32-ounce brown bottle format that can make it an even better deal in a pinch, especially for splitting over a takeout meal. Fortunately, this brew would be as at home at a beach barbecue as it would an office holiday party, thanks to its richer-yet-unassuming flavor and crisp finish that make it a superior food-pairing option.
Years of mergers and acquisitions have brought many of the most well-known Mexican beers under the same ownership of Constellation Brands and AB InBev, including Modelo and Pacifico. As a result, Corona is technically in the same corporate family as famous wineries such as Kim Crawford and Robert Mondavi and well-known spirits like High West and Svedka.
The bottom line: Hold the lime: Corona Familiar already comes with enough flavor to stand on its own. The fuller-bodied Mexican-style lager is a well-priced import option for anyone who prefers beer with some flavor over bland, light brews. And unlike Corona Extra, the brown bottle and canned options prevent this beer from skunking on the shelf.