Pacifico stands out as a Mexican lager with slightly more complex flavors than other imports. A subtle grassy bitterness gives the light-bodied beer character while accentuating a crisp, refreshing finish that most casual drinkers will enjoy.
Style pilsner-style adjunct lager
Company Grupo Modelo (AB InBev)
Brewery Location Mazatlán, Mexico
MSRP $10 per 6-pack
Affordable import option with clean lager characteristics
Well-balanced with a hint of bitterness on the finish
Low ABV makes it a great sessionable option.
Easy to find and accessible to almost any beer drinker
A somewhat thin, watery flavor profile
Loses carbonation quickly and has absolutely zero head retention
Hint of bitterness on the finish may be off-putting for sensitive palates.
Color: This beer pours a crystal-clear pale-golden straw in the glass with a snow-white head that dissipates within 30 seconds.
Nose: As is typical of many international light lagers, aromas of light, biscuit-y malt dominate the nose. A hint of grassiness is noticeable, with notes of creamed corn that become more apparent as the beer warms up.
Palate: This beer washes across the palate with a refreshing lightness, prickling the tongue with vibrant carbonation. Grainy malt flavors of water crackers are the most pronounced in the flavor profile, offering a bit more character than similar beers on the market.
Finish: A very subtle grassy bitterness develops on the finish that helps to balance the vaguely sweet corn flavors and accentuate the incredibly crisp finish, making this beer both an excellent palate cleanser between bites of spicy food and an easy-drinking option between meals.
The Mexican import category has thrust plenty of beers into the spotlight over the past decade. But although their sales numbers may speak to a newfound popularity, most Mexican import beers have been around for much longer than many domestic brands, and Pacifico is no exception: The first batches of this light lager were produced at the dawn of the 20th century in a Mazatlán brewery founded by three German immigrants. Since then, the brand has gone the way of many breweries in the country after being acquired by Grupo Modelo in 1954, which itself was bought by AB InBev in 2013, placing the product under the marketing control of the largest brewing conglomerate on the planet.
According to legend, the beer became popular with surfers trekking to Mexico from Southern California in the 1970s. Waveriders generated domestic buzz for the brand by bringing back cases of the incredibly drinkable lager, generating a sort of cult following that made it the go-to option for anyone looking to quench their thirst after hours of paddling. This legacy has impacted the beer’s branding and even packaging, which features an anchor and a buoy, to this day.
Household names like Corona and Modelo Especial might get most of the attention in the American market, but Pacifico manages to stand out as much for its flavor profile as it does for its DIY imported origins. Although its flavor profile keeps it as starkly light and refreshing as many other Mexican lagers you can find on the shelf, a slight bitterness on the finish makes it more flavorful. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s typically packaged in brown bottles or cans instead of clear glass, saving it from the skunked, overly grassy aromas and flavors found in other popular imports. Still, a uniquely crisp finish manages to win over drinkers who are looking for a refreshing brew that’s firmly in sessionable territory at 4.4% ABV.
Price-wise, Pacifico is quite affordable for an import and can easily be found in any corner of the U.S. where beer is sold, thanks in no small part to its mega-conglomerate ownership.
Ultimately, this beer will likely find its way into your rotation in the very ways it was first popularized: as a refreshing sipper you can reach for after riding the waves, or, if you don’t own a board, after mowing the lawn or at a no-frills get-together. The crisp flavor profile makes it a uniquely good pairing with a wide range of food, too, refreshing the tongue between each sip.
Pacifico is typically sold in 12-ounce cans or bottles in the U.S. But the beer comes in many more formats in its hometown, where you can get your hands on six-ounce options, known as “cuartitos,” or the ever-popular 32-ounce "ballenas" (whales).
The Bottom Line
Pacifico is a refreshing light Mexican lager that delivers slightly more in terms of flavor than other similar imports. While some may find it to be thin or watery, its slight body, crisp finish, and a subtle bitterness make it a true crowd-pleaser.