Posts Tagged ‘Mexican’

Beer Review: Pacifico Clara

14 September, 2010

YES, I do read your comments. That’s why, whilst browsing the shelves of the Bethnal Green Food Center, the name Pacifico rang a bell. That means I open this post with a thank you to the people who recommended Pacifico in the comments section of my reviews of Mexico’s lack-lustre big-name beers. For those of you, like me, who’d never heard of it before, here’s what it looks like. At least in its export version, Pacifico Clara form.

Pacifico Clara bottle

It’s a svelte, un-fussy, brown bottle. The big yellow label is equally straight forward.

Pacifico Clara front label

It’s yellow. So you can guess that it comes from a hot country. The only graphics are an illustration of a life ring with an anchor and what looks like a silhouette of land in the background. This compact square inch of nautical imagery leaves me baffled until I realise that Pacifico refers to the Pacific ocean.

That same poor grasp of Spanish comes in handy with the rest of the label. I’ve done enough of these labels now, to know that “Cerveza” means “beer”. That “Clara” means “clear”, hinting that there might be a dark version of this beer out there. And the slogan “La cerveza del pacific” means “The beer of the Pacific”. Unless, of course, I’m wrong, in which case, leave your correct translation in the comments section.

The vital statistics are clear enough for even me to read easily. This is a 35.5 cl, 355 ml bottle, and the alcoholic volume is an unremarkable 4.5%. Under all of this, it quickly becomes a dense block of multi-lingual small print and symbols. Because of the gold on yellow colours, this is nearly unreadable.

Fortunately, I can make out the main facts. First, it really is “Imported Beer from Mexico”. Not some domestic imitation of a Mexican beer (I can’t think of anything worse). Lastly it has 1.6 UK units of alcohol.

What;s on the back label? This is what’s on the back.

Pacifico Clara back of bottle

With that out of the way, we can get to the interesting part. Will Pacifico Clara be the best Mexican beer that I’ve tried? Let’s find out. For this test, I’ve cooled it to fridge temperature and I won’t be adding any lemon or lime. Because Pacifico Clara will almost certainly be a pilsner style lager beer, I’ll be looking for clean, crisp refreshment and ease of drinking.

Pacifico Clara poured into a glass

If you do what I did and try and pour it into a half-pint glass, the first thing you’ll notice is that 355ml won’t go. Seeing as most people will probably be swigging it from the bottle, that won’t be a problem.

In the glass, it looks like any other pilsner style lager: yellow and fizzy. This one does lack a head though with just the odd patch of white foam. Pacifico Clara doesn’t smell surprising either. The only odour I could detect was a variation of the same malted barley blend that all lagers have. Quite strong smelling too, I must say.

What does Pacifico Clara taste like? The first gulp was a, easy one. So was the second. No surprises and so far, everything much as you’d hope for from a lager from a hot country. If you’ve ever tried a pilsner style lager (you’re reading this blog, therefore you have), then you’ll know what to expect from the taste and flavour. That frees me up to focus on the minutiae that pleases the detail freaks so much.

There is no flavour. No surprise there. There’s almost no taste and aftertaste either. The transition from where the flavour would be to where the aftertaste is, is so gentle as to make you think you missed it. There’s a gentle, slight bitterness. That mild bitterness fades away to almost nothing. Then a barley-malt powered, mild bitterness pops up out of nowhere, leaving a surprisingly long finish. This is the most noticeable part of the entire gulp.

What am I enjoying about Pacifico Clara? Well it is clean, crisp and refreshing. It’s also very easy to drink. These are undeniable facts. It possesses all the qualities that a hot country lager is usually judged by. I like the straightforward honesty of the beer and the bottle. And I like the reports that it’s what the locals would probably choose.

What don’t I like about Pacifico Clara? The cleanness, crispness, refreshment and drinkability come at a price. And that price is watery-ness and lack of taste and character. If you want a thirst quenching, refreshing and drinkable beverage, tap water is an option you may want to consider instead. It would have the added benefit of being less gassy than Pacifico Clara.

To sum up, Pacifico Clara is different to the big-name Mexican beers by being a trade-off. It trades taste for drinkability. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike it for that. On a hot day, no one would complain about a cold bottle of Pacifico Clara. In a rainy, autumnal London however, there’s something seriously lacking. All of which means that Pacifico Clara is pretty good and doing what it does. Even if few of us love it for that.

The closest competitor I can think of is Aguila from nearby Colombia. That too, opted for the watery drinkability compromise. And I’m sure you can think of others.

Is Pacifico Clara my favourite Mexican beer? On a hot day in Mexico, probably. At least until I try one that I can really love. When that happens, you’ll read about it here.

Rating: 3.3

Have you tried Pacifico Clara? What did you think? Leave your translations, opinions, recommendations and places to buy, here in the comments.

Beer Review: Corona Extra

5 June, 2008

THUS far through my exploration of beers from the Latin world, Sol was as enjoyable as paying water rates. And Damm Estrella the beer equivalent of a potato. Unexciting average-ness. Let’s see if Corona Extra from Mexico can improve things.

Corona Extra bottle

First glance says that this is a lot like it’s Mexican counterpart, Sol. The transparent glass. The partly transparent front label. The pale yellow drink within. It shouts sunshine.

The front label is a mess. The top-half with the white background is fine enough. There’s an attractive crest and everything. But under that, on the blue background is a mass of multilingual text. Look hard enough though, and you can make out this beer’s vital statistics.

Corona Extra front label

The little bottle is 33 centilitres. And the alcoholic volume is a reasonable 4.6%. Not weak, but you would need the build of Victoria Beckham to get drunk on it. Elsewhere on this mess is the name of the brewer. Which I think, is someone called Modelo S.A. And the country it is from. Which I think, is Mexico.

Unusually for a beer, the front label is ruined by too much text. Whilst the back label is virtually empty.

Corona Extra back label

Apart from the size and volume, which we already know, there’s not much else on there. In fact, the semi-transparent label seems too large for the tiny quantity of information it holds. We learn that the importer is Belgian. And that this bottle has 1.5 of your UK units of alcohol. This won’t make much of a dent in your recommended daily limit. Girls, you can have two of these before the Government will start making tutting noises.

Now time to answer the important questions. What will it taste like? Is it any good? And is it better than Sol or Damm Estrella?

Corona Extra poured into a glass

In the glass, the colour is no surprise. But it does look very fizzy indeed. We’ll see if that translates into gassiness. The head is good though. A consistent layer of bubbles. And one that’s controllable during the pour and that doesn’t disappear in a flash.

The smell is nothing special to behold. It’s a rather typical blend of beer ingredients. I’d say that it smells a bit cheap. Not bad, but definitely not special. Like almost anything manufactured by Kia.

And that’s exactly what the taste is. The flavours you notice are a blend of archetypical beer flavours. The malted barley, the hops, everything usual. But nothing that stands out. Or that is distinctive.

Besides a weak offering of malt, barley and hop flavours, there is a bitterness. Not a strong one. But a light, possibly tangy bitterness that lingers for a little while on the back of your tongue. To its credit, it isn’t terribly gassy. And the blend of tastes and flavours is not at all bad. It is even quite drinkable and refreshing.

On the list of downsides, it is hard to find a compelling reason to choose this. If you did a blind taste testing, you would be hard pressed to identify it from the multitude of indistinctive beers out there. And while the flavours aren’t bad, there simply aren’t enough of them. Nor are they standing out particularly prominently. So, you can level the criticism that it’s also a bit weak, watery and lacking character and body.

Around London, Corona Extra has been marketed as the “party beer”. There was even an open top bus promoting the brew, travelling down Oxford Street a few weeks ago. As a party beer, I would have no problem if I turned up at a party and all my host had was a big crate of Corona Extra bottles. And I would have no problem drinking this in Mexico. There’s little to truly dislike about it. Better than that, it is better than Sol. And at least on par with Damm Estrella.

This is a beer to buy in for guests, parties and barbeques. But if you want real taste, quality and flavour for yourself, then look for a different bottle on the shop shelf.

Rating: 3

Have you tried Corona Extra? What did you think?
Corrections, opinions, thoughts, ideas and suggestions here please.

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