Though the first beers originated in modern-day Kuwait and Iraq, beer today is an absolute favorite the world over.
Many countries, including the US, Mexico and Germany, have a long-standing and dedicated global fanbase, but what exactly is it that characterizes a Mexican beer over a German one? Today we’re taking a look at what distinguishes these countries’ beers from another, and it’s definitely much more than just a question of geography.
Walk down the beer aisle in your local supermarket and one thing should be immediately obvious: there’s never been a better time to enjoy American beer. From the so-called macro-brews—Budweiser, Coors, Miller, etc.—to the much-loved microbrews—Sam Adams, New Belgium, Shiner—there really is something for everyone. But the story doesn’t end with the brewery. The microbrew renaissance that started in the 1970s is still alive and well today, and these breweries have been creative. Some have spent time putting American spins on once imported beers—Sierra Nevada’s IPA comes to mind—while others like Rogue are always fresh with new experimental brews. And if you want to go super-local, Tucson is a beer drinker’s paradise with great brews happening at Barrio, Nimbus, Ten Fifty-Five, Dragoon, Sentinel Peak, Iron John, Thunder Canyon and more.
Tucson’s proximity to our southern border means that Mexican beers are especially easy to sample here. Though Mexico’s microbrewery scene trails the US, smaller breweries like Cervecería San Ángel and Cervecería Santa Fe Beer Factory have experienced moderate success. In terms of raw sales, though, It’s Mexico’s two powerhouse macrobreweries, Cervecería Modelo and Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma that take the cake. Among Cervecería Modelo’s popular beers are—you guessed it—it’s namesake Negra Modelo and Corona. On the other hand, Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma is best known for Dos Equis and Tecate.
Especially noteworthy are Mexico’s beer export numbers: it produces about 17% of all the world’s beer to be shipped abroad, recently beating out the Netherlands for the top spot. Though beer has existed in Mexico since the sixteenth-century Spanish conquest, brewery construction was jump-started by German and Austrian colonists during the short-lived reign of Maximilian I. Today Mexican beer is often a lager-esque with a mild taste and light-body, though some darker varieties can trace their roots back to Maximilian’s reign.
In American pop culture, few countries are more closely associated with beer than Germany. It’s home to the famous Munich Oktoberfest and the well-known German Beer Purity Law of 1487, or Reinheitsgebot, which limited the ingredients of German beer to water, barley, yeast, and hops. Germany has roughly 1,300 breweries, which might not sound especially impressive compared to the 3,000 that call the US home…but except that Germany is about as large as Montana. That dense distribution means the typical German has access to literally hundreds of beers within a relatively close radius. For this reason, Germany hasn’t really seen the microbrew fever that we know on this side of the Atlantic; it’s just been the norm there all along.
American beer enthusiasts have probably tried Becks, Franziskaner, Warsteiner, and Paulaner, but those heavy-hitters actually aren’t the biggest volume sellers in their native country. Instead, it’s Oettinger, Krombach, and Bitburger that usually dominate the top three. Though the Reinheitsgebot might sound restrictive, German beer drinkers actually have access to an incredibly diverse beer assortment. Along with the lagers, hefeweizens, pilseners, and dunkels, they also have a multitude of altbiers, weissbiers, koelsches, bocks and many more— and no, they’re not normally served warm!
But Before You Buy Your Plane Ticket…
If a trip abroad isn’t in the cards for you anytime soon, fear not: at Noble Hops we keep an impressive selection of 175 world beers on hand. And our draught list changes daily, meaning that we always have new and exciting brews available for even the most well-versed beer enthusiast.