Graphic: Karl Gustafson
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As popular as Mexican beers are here in the States, I haven’t devoted many pixels to them. Modelo is the number two imported beer line behind only Corona, and its case sales increased more than 15% between 2017 and 2018. I don’t want to dwell on the stats too long, but suffice to say Mexican lagers overall are a big deal. Friday marked my town’s first 70 degree day of the year, so it seems like Mother Nature is gently kicking me to write about these refreshing lagers. I also wanted to prove that it is possible to write about Mexican beer and not peg the story to Cinco de Mayo. Be the change!

I’ve loved Modelo Negra for years. If you’re not familiar with dark lagers—German, Mexican, Czech, American or otherwise—now is the time to get acquainted. Before we dive into the specifics of this particular beer, I’m going to sing the praises of dark lagers in broad strokes. They’re brewed with roasted malts, which give them their darker color. But they’re fermented with lager yeast, so they retain that snappy, crisp finish synonymous with lagers. If you want the easy-drinking character of a Tecate or Pacifico but with a bit more malt flavor, [car-salesman voice] have I got the beers for you! They’re clean and straight-forward enough to drink on their own, and they play wonderfully with heartier foods—tacos, burgers, anything grilled—that a lighter beer wouldn’t be able to match. They’re some of my favorite backyard cookout beers.

So, to Modelo Negra. It’s loosely brewed in the style of a Munich dunkel; many Mexican beers are based on German or Austrian styles, as immigrants from those countries arrived in Mexico and what would become Texas in sizable numbers. Eventually, the rich and robust Vienna and dunkel lagers were watered down to suit more mass-market palates, and probably to taste a bit more refreshing in the heat. Modelo Negra certainly tastes like a beer you could drink on the beach, but with roasted malts turned up just one notch.

The aroma is fairly neutral, especially if you’re drinking it straight from the bottle or can. If I pour it into a tulip and really stick my nose in there, I can pluck out peanut shell nuttiness and cola sweetness. Those are also the two dominant flavors on the tongue, with a sweet-roasted quality that reminds me of iced hazelnut coffee. It has lively carbonation, a medium-light body, and clocks in at 5.4% ABV, which is notably higher than Corona’s 4.5%. I like Modelo Negra for warm-weather, casual drinking occasions when I still want a beer with flavor and a mid-range alcohol content. And because it’s available in corner stores as well as grocery stores, liquor stores, and the like, it’s never tough to pick up a pack on route to a friend’s party.

Where to get it

Modelo Negra is available in all 50 states; use Modelo’s beer locator tool here.

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Have a beer you think should we should consider for inclusion in an upcoming Beer Of The Week column? Email details to beer@thetakeout.com.