The History of Mexican Beer

Have you ever wondered who made beer first, Mexico or the United States? Or how the different Mexican styles of beer – from dark and malty to Corona’s light and fizzy came to be?

Mexico’s beer roots are much deeper than you may think. Long before the Spanish conquest, fermented beverages were being made from corn, agave, and even cocoa beans. It was only in the 1500s that they started to make a beer as we know and understand it today. And still, this was quite a long time before anything similar took place in the U.S. or Canada.

Let’s have a closer look at the history of Mexican beer below:

The Beginnings

As mentioned, the first recognizable beginnings of modern beer in the Americas was brewed in Mexico in the 1540s. The Spaniards were the first to start brewing with barley and wheat. And, in the middle of the 16th century, the Spanish authorities issued a concession to brew European-style beers. This saw brewers trying to expand crops to make more beer. Unfortunately, heavy regulation and high taxation on locally-produced beers caused a lot of production to halt. And, so we see a brewing history with ups and downs until the Mexican War of Independence ended in 1822.


After the War of Independence, brewing was on the rise. This was due to German-speaking immigrants settling in the Texas and Mexico areas and bringing additional knowledge and expertise in brewing. This resulted in a widely-produced beer closer to Vienna lager in style than the light, fizzy style of Corona.

Vienna-Style Lager

Anton Dreher developed the popular Vienna lager in Vienna in the 1840s. It was a malty, dark-to-coppery beer that was starting to become less popular in Europe – but it took off in the Americas. And, the love for this beer style in Mexico continued when Maximilian I was proclaimed Emperor of Mexico in 1864. He and his entourage brought a love of Vienna lager to Mexico.

Big Business

By the early 1900s, beer was considered big business. Something that helped bring this along was the prohibition in the United States. The trade of beer (and other alcoholic beverages) along the border towns and cities was booming. And, by the end of the Mexican Revolution, there were more than 35 breweries in Mexico.


The 1920s then saw a time of consolidation. Independent breweries were absorbed into one of the ‘big-two’ breweries – Grupo Modelo and Cerveceria Cuautehmoc-Moctezuma. The country saw successful independents being acquired by regional breweries, mass-produced and distributed nationally. This wasn’t good news for the smaller breweries, who were forced to close or try and compete.


By the turn of the 21st century, the two big Mexican breweries were acquired by international conglomerates. Heineken took on the brands Sol, Bohemia, Tecate, and Carta Blanca in 2010, and Anheuser-Busch acquired the brands Corona, Modelo, and Pacifico, among others, in 2013. Mexican Corona beer is a light lager that has become an iconic brand worldwide, thanks to the huge marketing budgets of the conglomerates.

What Does The Future Hold?

Mexican Craft Beers
As consumer habits change, seeking out variety and subtlety in their beer’s flavor, the market is beginning to see a boom in craft beer across Mexico. The independent brewers are making a comeback with small-batch Mexican craft beers and ales. Currently, the Mexican brewers’ association estimates that there are over 600 independent breweries in Mexico.

The majority of beers sold in Mexico today are lagers, pilsners, Vienna-style light and dark beers, and Munich dark beers. The most popular way to enjoy your Mexican brew is cold, or take it as a Michelada – beer with lime juice or spiced limed juice. Next time you’re visiting Benito’s or are in Mexico, take some time to peruse the beer menu. You may be quite surprised at how vast the offering is.

Are you looking for great authentic Mexican cuisine? Come to Benito’s in the Fairmount area of Fort Worth. Well-known for our breakfast dishes, pico de gallo, fresh gauc, queso flamedo, and range of Mexican beers and margaritas. You’ll experience true Mexican cuisine with us at Benito’s.

To book a table, call us at 817-332-8633. To find out more, go to our website.