Negra Modelo: A Mexican surprise
I might as well ‘fess up from the start: I cynically picked up this beer, solely to review, expecting not to like it. I never do that. But, there seemed to be so much going against it, there was no way it could actually be good. They don’t even bother informing you what type of beer it purports to be. The bottle simply says ‘dark beer’. On top of that, it’s made by the same people that make Corona -- not a favorite of mine. I even saw a commercial hawking it for the first time recently and didn’t like that either. That’s not usually a criteria of mine, but there you are. I knew I was not going to rate this one. The signs were everywhere.
Then a funny thing happened. Once I tasted it, I didn’t hate it at all.
First off, Negra Modelo is definitely a lager. Mexican beers, as a rule, are generally all thirst quenchers. That’s the job of a lager. As for the ‘dark’ bit, it’s certainly darker than a typical lager, but it’s just a rich amber color -- nothing approaching a proper stout or porter. It’s about the color of a brown ale, such as a Newcastle. They’re probably alienating half of their potential customers by using that four letter word. I like dark beers, and even I hesitated grabbing the six-pack because I really wasn’t in the mood for something thick and heavy after a hard, hot slog at work. Negra Modelo is neither, and it hit the spot on a summer day.
That bit of color comes from the roasted malt which comes out in both the aroma and flavor. The caramel and chocolate from that malt can’t help but bring to mind a candy bar, but it is well-balanced by a crunch of spiciness from the hops. There is that touch of sweetness at first, but not much, and the hops chase it off nicely. This beer is very highly carbonated. It practically crackles in the mouth, and leaves the finish crisper and drier than expected.
I could imagine women going for this beer even though it’s a rather manly 5.4% alcohol. I’m sure they’d poke a silly lime wedge in their bottles, though -- at least the silly ones would. A nice bottle it is, by the way. Short and squat with a wide bottom and the proper brown color.
This may be the perfect beer to go along with Tex-Mex food. The sweetness will wash away the effects of any overly spicy peppers. The body is fairly light so it won’t be filling. If I’m eating tacos, this is the beer I’m going to want. As practically any lager, it is a good hot-weather drink. Surprisingly refreshing, and with a little more complexity than you usually find.
Even though I braced myself to hate Negra Modelo before I cracked open the first bottle, I can’t bring myself to do it. It really isn’t bad despite everything going against it. It’ll never be my first beer of choice. It’s not something I‘d grab all that often. The price alone would probably keep this out of the fridge on any kind of regular basis. It is more expensive than it deserves to be. The chocolate overtones get on the nerves after a couple, so it’s not really a beer to sit around and pound anyway. It will go down a treat every time you go out for Mexican, though.