Wait, Tecate isn’t brewed in Mexico?

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Photo: HUIZENG HU (Getty Images)

In news I wasn’t expecting, news that cut me to the core, I learned something that feels like a betrayal of the heart: Tecate isn’t brewed in Mexico. Tecate is brewed in... Holland? By Heineken?

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In all the times I’ve sat on a restaurant patio waiting for my tacos to come out and sipping an ice-cold Tecate, I’ve never even thought to question its origins. And I’m not the only one: Fox Business reports that one man in New York feels so betrayed he’s actually suing Heineken.

There’s a lot on the website that suggests the beer is brewed in Mexico, including a phrase in Spanish that says “Hecha En Tecate, Baja California, Mexico,” (translation: “Made In Tecate, Baja California, Mexico”). To further contribute to the confusion, the website also displays copy that says “Born and brewed in the land we are proud to share our name with: Tecate, Baja California, Mexico.” The home page uses the word “Mexico” no less than four times.

But if you look carefully at the label on the boxes, you’ll find text that reads “Product of Holland” and “Brewed and canned by HBBV Amsterdam, Holland… Imported by Cervezas Mexicanas, White Plains, NY.” I’ll be honest. I feel duped too.

Miguel Schelmetty, the man filing the lawsuit, claims that this is deceptive advertisement. He states in court papers that if he’d known Tecate was made in Holland, “[he] would not have bought the product or would have paid less for them.” Tecate sells at a price around $11.99 a 12-pack while its competition runs cheaper. The suit also says this is “higher than the price of the product if it were represented in a non-misleading way,”

Schelmetty is asking a judge to file this suit as a class action, so other people can group together to seek damages which are currently unspecified. This news reminds me of the time I found out that Old Style, the mascot beer of Chicago, is actually brewed in Wisconsin, so I can say I know how he feels right now.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

DISCUSSION

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Has Tecate been brewed in Holland since before the pandemic? I know certain breweries in Mexico had to shift production elsewhere while brewery facilities in Mexico were closed — maybe Tecate was one of them? That said, there are a number of “imported” beers that are actually brewed in the U.S. for the U.S. market, and some of these have inspired similar suits in the past. Beck’s is (or was for a while) being brewed in the U.S., as is Newcastle Brown. Harp and Bass might be/have been, as well.

Old Style — yep, brewed in Wisconsin, but at the Miller plant in Milwaukee, I believe, not in LaCrosse. I think it is owned by Pabst, and miller does the contract brewing. The former Heileman’s brewery was purchased by employees and turned out a brew that purported to be the “original recipe” for a few years after it closed and Old Style was brewed elsewhere. La Crosse had a double whammy -- LaCroix was a product there, also got sold, and now is super huge, but made elsewhere (I want to say Michigan?).