Negra Modelo is a solidly approachable dark lager that maintains an impressive balance for its style. The malt-driven and nutty flavor notes with hints of caramel make it a great gateway into darker beer—and excellent for food pairings.
Style: Munich Dunkel
Company: Grupo Modelo S.A. de C.V
Brewery Location: Nava, Mexico
MSRP: $10 per six-pack
- A well-made take on a style that’s difficult to find
- Refreshingly medium-bodied
- Plenty of malt-driven roasted nut flavors and aromas
- A hint of balanced sweetness makes it a comforting sipper
- A fantastic food pairing option
- The sweetness masks hop profiles and makes it less complex.
- Its sweetness becomes more pronounced as the beer warms up in your hand.
- Brown bread flavors may be off-putting to those who prefer the flavors of stout or porter.
Color: This beer pours a rich copper to dark chestnut brown in the glass with a small, pure white head of foam that doesn’t dissipate quickly.
Nose: True to its style, this dunkel is bursting with aromas of freshly baked brown bread, roasted nuts, and a hint of caramel and bananas foster. Roasted malts are certainly the star of the show here, with no perceptible hoppy floral notes.
Palate: The roasted, nutty aromas carry over to the palate, which washes across the tongue with a smoother texture, medium body, and finer bubbles. There’s a hint of malt-driven caramel sweetness and dark fruit on the front that mellows quickly once it is swallowed.
Finish: A soft, lingering finish on the beer helps add balance to the overall flavor profile. It comes across as clean thanks to a subtle dryness that eventually emerges and makes another sip even more appealing.
When it comes to beer, it really doesn’t get much bigger than Grupo Modelo. As a member of the Constellation Brands family, the nearly century-old brewery is owned and distributed in the U.S. by the same parent company that owns Corona and Pacifico and holds the distinction of being one of the best-selling import products in the country. But while its lighter lager cousin, Modelo Especial, may receive more attention and sales numbers, Negra Modelo is still widely beloved for being a richer, roastier beer that still manages to be incredibly drinkable.
Although it’s brewed in Mexico, Negra Modelo is based on the German style of Munich dunkel. Its darker color and richer set of flavors set it as an outlier for most Americans who are accustomed to shopping for light lagers or bright ales, even in the import section of the fridge. But as a mostly underrepresented category on the macro-beer market, Negra Modelo is also uniquely positioned to be a go-to dark lager for anyone who appreciates a malt-driven beer or is looking for a fantastic food accompaniment.
Unlike other imports, this lager doesn’t have the coffee and espresso notes of dark ales like stout and also boasts a slightly fuller body. It’s also still relatively affordable at around $10 for a six-pack. And while it’s technically not low enough in alcohol content to be considered sessionable, it’s still a remarkably easy-drinking beer thanks to its well-balanced maltiness, soft carbonation, and smooth finish. In that regard, it seems like a steal for the price.
Dark beers are usually sought out by those who know they like malt-driven flavors, but this well-balanced dunkel stands out for being a refreshing option in a wide variety of circumstances. The subtle hints of caramel might actually make it a better introduction to darker beers than some of the more popular dark imports on the market. This characteristic, along with its medium-bodied texture and roasted nutty flavors, make it a go-to pairing option for a surprisingly wide variety of foods across courses of a meal, including grilled meats and desserts like pecan pie.
Negra Modelo is one of the last of its style to survive on the mass market after Oktoberfest-style Marzens eclipsed them in popularity over the past century.
The bottom line: Not everyone may be willing to reach for a darker beer, but if there were ever one that could win over a crowd, Negra Modelo would likely be it. The slightly heartier flavor profile still maintains its balance, making it surprisingly refreshing and easy to drink.