With all the beer that has been consumed over the past few months, and with Thad and Kristin headed off to Canada for a month and Jenn and Jas headed to Guadalajara for a long weekend, we decided it was time to get to the bottom of the Mexican beer quandary. Which is best? Which is worst? Which is the favorite? This was determined by a proper blind taste test, during happy hour aboard SNL and before we went to Masala for an hasta luego cena (dinner).
Because Jody is generally the designated non-drinker, she acted as the moderator for the big event. We selected six beers to taste, guess which was which, and rank the top three. This was harder than one would expect because Mexican beers all taste the same and, honestly, are not that great. So, Jody numbered six clear plastic glasses and, hidden from view, poured a different beer into each – Corona, Modelo, Pacifico, Tecate, Victoria, and Estrella. The participants had a tasting glass of their own and sampled each beer. This was not perfect because there was residual left in the tasters’ glasses and we didn’t rinse after each sample – all in the interest of not wasting water. But again, these beers are all so close that it didn’t really matter. SNL did provide crackers as palate cleansers, so that helped a bit.
There was much consternation about how to organize the score sheets (see photos) and each participant had his/her own way of documenting and interpreting the results, which was totally unclear to all others involved. In the end, Kristin did the best, getting two correct, and Rand and Jenn each got one right. Interesting, because Thad and Jas clearly ingest the greatest volume of beer among all of us, and neither of them got a single one right (although Thad claims to have gotten one right, but can’t remember which — suspicious, I say).
All were surprised by the beer they blindly selected as their favorite. Thad, who never drank Tecate at home and has been bad-mouthing it since we arrived in Mexico, happened to select that very brand as his top choice. Jas, who subverted the whole contest because of existing bias, chose Modelo as his favorite, but still asks for Pacifico whenever we’re at a bar. Kristin, who is already tired of drinking Mexican beer after only three months in country and got two out of six correct, selected Estrella as her favorite; a beer that is not offered in any bar/restaurant in town. Despite vehemently denying that she likes Corona, Jenn’s top pick was none other than…Corona. Rand came closest in selecting as his favorite the beer he most commonly orders at a bar – Pacifico. The only beer not selected as a favorite was Victoria – a beer not generally offered in bars and one we’ve not been drinking much – but Jenn actually correctly identified it. Go figure. The only beer to feature in the top three list of each tester was Modelo Especial. So there’s that, at least.
So there you have it; each taster chose a different favorite, but all claimed telling the difference between any of them was nearly impossible. The moral of the story, next time you saddle up to a bar in Mexico, just say, “Una cerveza, por favor.” It doesn’t really matter what it is.