Mexican Beer has a long history. Mesoamerican cultures knew of fermented alcoholic beverages, including a corn beer and pulque, a fermented sap of the maguey. European style beer brewed with barley was introduced with the Spanish, but the industry truly began to develop in the 19th century, due to an influx of German immigrants to Mexico and the emperor Maximilian I. The emperor had his own brewer, who produced Vienna-style dark beers. This influence can be seen in two popular brands of Negra Modelo and Dos Equis Ambar.
By 1918, there were 36 brewing companies, but over the 20th century, the industry consolidated until today. Two corporations, Grupo Modelo and FEMSA control 90% of the Mexican beer market. Cervecería Modelo was founded in 1925 in Mexico City, with its first two brands, Modelo and Corona, exporting eight million bottles a year to various countries. FEMSA’s brands today include Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio, Bohemia and Noche Buena. Microbrews are a new and still rare phenomenon in Mexico, but they do exist.
Except for some dark beers, such as León and Noche Buena, almost all beer produced in Mexico is pilsner. The oldest and most traditional pilsner in Mexico is Bohemia, which has reached the respected distinction of being like one of the finest beers of the world.
Beer in Mexico is commonly called “chela”. A very popular beer cocktail called “michelada“, consists of light beer with lots of lime juice and salt, and can include chili powder, Worcestershire sauce, or tomato juice. The name “michelada” comes from the phrase “mi chela helada” (my beer, ice cold). Most beer is sold in 325ml bottles called “medias” and in large bottles of 940ml called “caguamas” in the popular slang.