What Type Of Beer Is Corona?

"A Corona sounds nice," you say when asked for your order at a sunny outdoor bar. You look forward to a cold, light-colored beer bottle being slid over to you, and can already visualize yourself pushing a lime wedge into the bottle before enjoying a refreshing sip. This iconic Mexican beer is basically made for warm weather occasions like this, but do you know what you just ordered? 


As it turns out, Corona isn't exactly like other popular beers like Budweiser, Coors, or Heineken. While they're all a part of the lager family, which tend to be light in color and highly carbonated, Corona is a Mexican lager. Corona's signature clear bottles can expose the beer to light, oxidizing it and creating another signature, a subtle but often polarizing skunky note. Some also describe these beers as tasting like cannabis. Overall, the beer's flavor profile is mild, with hints of citrus, contributing to its fresh taste and ability to pair so well with a lime wedge.

Mexican lagers are a regional take on a global brew

Aside from being pale and bubbly, lagers are made with bottom-fermenting yeast, which sinks to the bottom of a brew as it ferments at low temperatures over a relatively long period of time, in contrast to top-fermenting yeast used in beers like Kölsch. In addition to yeast, lagers also include hops, malted barley, and sometimes other grains. This brewing style originated in Germany, but quickly spread to other European countries like Austria and beyond.


Lager came to Mexico following the Mexican War of Independence, when Mexico and Austria established a diplomatic relationship and appointed Maximillian the First of Austria as Emperor of Mexico in 1864. A wave of German-speaking immigrants came to the country during that period, bringing their beloved brewing traditions with them, including Vienna lager, which is crisp, malty, and amber-colored. Brewers like Santiago Graf tried to recreate it with imported hops and malt, but started adding local corn to the mix. The result was a lighter, sweeter, less malty beer.

Corona is beloved in Mexico and beyond

In the 1920s, a German immigrant to Mexico named Adolf H. Schmedtje was the first to brew Corona at Cervecería Modelo, which reflected both local Mexican lagers and the beer's German origins. Corona Extra became popular in Mexico before coming to the United States in 1979, followed soon after by Corona Light in the calorie-conscious late 1980s.


As of 2023, Corona was Mexico's top-selling beer, and Mexican beer as a whole makes up the majority of beer imported to America. Aside from Corona, Modelo and Tecate are two other well-known Mexican lagers. Other Mexican favorites like Dos Equis and Pacifico are also lagers, but are technically in the pilsner subcategory due to their ingredients. If you're looking for a taste of Mexican-style lager a bit more off the beaten path, plenty of small craft breweries are also putting their stamp on this beer, including Tigre Especial from New Image Brewing and The Coloradan from WestBound and Down Brewing Company.