The beer import scene in the US is rich with a fantastic selection of beers that spill through our borders.
But between the stacks of imported cases, two Mexican brands stand out among the rest. Both contenders make the top three of VinePair’s 20 Most popular Imported Beers. I’m referring to Modelo and Corona.
But how do they compare? In this article, we’ll compare Modelo and Corona beer brands. We’ll put both brands under the microscope and view them through the lenses of appearance, packaging, taste, alcohol content, and nutritional value. But first, let’s introduce our contenders.
Below is a summary of how Modelo and Corona beers compare:
|Brewer||Cerviceria modelo Grupo||Cerviceria modelo Grupo|
|Appearance||Modelo Oro: Pale Straw
Modelo Especial: Pale Straw
Modelo Reserver Tequila Barrel: Pale Straw
Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel: Amber
Modelo Negra: Dark Amber
|Corona Light: Pale Straw
Corona Extra: Pale Straw
|Packaging||Modelo Oro: Can
Modelo Especial: Bottle/Can
Modelo Reserver Tequila Barrel: Bottle
Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel: Bottle
Modelo Negra: Bottle/Can
|Corona Light: Bottle/Can
Corona Extra: Bottle/Can
(% Alcohol by Volume)
|Modelo Oro: 4.0% ABV
Modelo Especial: 4.4% ABV
Modelo Reserver Tequila Barrel: 5.5% ABV
Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel: 5.5% ABV
Modelo Negra: 5.4% ABV
|Corona Light: 4.1% ABV
Corona Extra: 4.5% ABV
(calories per 12 fl. oz.)
|Modelo Oro: 90
Modelo Especial: 143
Modelo Reserver Tequila Barrel: 185
Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel: 185
Modelo Negra: 180
|Corona Light: 99
Corona Extra: 148
|Presentation and Service||Serve with a slice of lime||Serve with a slice of lime|
What is Modelo
Modelo is a family of beer brands brewed by the Mexica Outfit, Grupo Modelo. Four different beer brands bear the Modelo name. These brands include:
- Modelo Especial
- Modelo Light
- Modelo Negra
- Modelo Reserva
Modelo Especial is a 4.4% ABV (alcohol by volume) pilsner-style lager. Since its introduction to the US market in 1990, Modelo Especial’s popularity has grown steadily.
In 2022, Modelo Especial became the 2nd most-bought beer brand in chain retail. It even became the top-selling beer brand in California during the same period.
In the US, Modelo Especial comes in clear 12 fl oz glass bottles and 12 fl oz white cans with gold accents. Bottled and canned Modelo beers share the same level of alcohol content (4.4% ABV).
With an alcohol content of 4.0% ABV, Modelo Oro is the lightest brand in the Modelo roster. It’s a low-carb and low-calorie lager. It comes in white 12 fl oz cans with blue and gold accents.
Modelo Reserva includes Modela Reseva Taquila Barrel and Modella Reserva Bourbon Barrel. The beers are pilsner-style lagers aged in tequila and bourbon casks, respectively. The beers have an alcohol content of 5.5% ABV each.
In 2020, the two Modelo Reserva beer brands faced the threat of discontinuation when AB InBev sued Constellation Brands over the launch of the then-new beer brands. Both outfits are parent companies of Grupo Modelo.
Negra is Spanish for black women, and Modelo Negra lives to the expectation. Modelo Negra is a Dunkel-style lager. Dunkel is a fancy word for a dark german lager. Modelo Negra is served in a clear 12 fl oz glass bottle with a black label strip. The dark lager contains 5.4% alcohol by volume.
How About Corona?
Like Modelo’s brands, Corona is brewed by Grupo Modelo. This relationship is why Modelo and Corona beers are often pitted against each other.
Corona is the beer you see at the end of every Fast & Furious Movie when Dominic Torretto convenes with his “family” over an afternoon cookout. Two beer brands bear the Corona Name:
- Corona Extra
- Corona light
With an alcohol content of 4.5% ABV, Corona Extra is a Mexican pale lager. It is the top-selling imported beer in the United States. In the third quarter of 2022, Corona Extra’s sales amounted to $2.32 billion.
Corona Extra is packed in clear 12 fl oz bottles in the US. It’s also available in silver ¼ and ½ kegs.
With an alcohol content of 3.4% ABV, Corona Light is the weaker version of Corona Extra. Corona Light comes in a clear 12 fl oz glass bottle like the Corona Extra.
The differences between the two bottles are in the labeling. Corona Light’s label trades the blue for gold accents.
Modelo vs. Corona: Appearance
Modelo Especial and Corona Extra are both pale lagers. However, Modelo is slightly darker (SRM of 3.4) than Corona Extra (SRM of 2.1). SRM, in this context, refers to the Standard Reference Method, a system of grading beer color.
Corona Extra and Modelo Especial are packaged in clear glass bottles and cans. However, it’s helpful to know that sunlight does not favor beer; it increases the risk of spoilage. Whenever you buy a Corona or Modelo bottle, ensure that you store it in a dark room.
The can would be a superior choice as you don’t have to worry about sunlight exposure.
Modelo vs. Corona: Taste and Aroma
Taste is subjective, and our opinion may not mean much to you. Some people will gravitate toward Modelo Especial, and others towards Corona Extra.
With the superior alcohol content, Corona Extra has a stronger taste. It’s slightly bitter than Modelo Especial. If you are looking for something with a richer taste, buy a Corona. On the other hand, Modelo Especial has a crisp and mellow taste profile.
Modelo vs. Corona: Presentation and Service
You may have seen some of Corona’s commercials and billboards. You’ve noticed they always pair a bottle with a slice of lime. In almost every bar, the bartender always sends a piece of lime with every bottle of Modelo Especial.
Why do these beers come with lime? That’s anybody’s guess. But if the manufacturer recommends lime, who are we to say otherwise?
To properly infuse lime into your Modelo or Corona, follow the steps be steps below:
- Cut a wedge-shaped slice of lime.
- Shove the lime into your beer bottle
- Using your clean thumb, cover the mouth of the bottle.
- With the rest of your fingers clasping the neck of the bottle, turn it upside down.
- Let it sit in this position for a few seconds
- Turn it upright and release your thumb
- Enjoy your lime-infused Corona or Modelo
Modelo vs. Corona: Alcohol Content
Some people prefer stronger beers, and others don’t. But if you are, how do these Mexican luchadores compare?
In the light beer division, the Corona Light is the stronger beer. Its alcohol content is 4.1% ABV while Modelo Oro comes at a distant second with 4.0% ABV.
In the middle division, Corona Extra is the stronger beer. With an alcohol content of 4.5% ABV, it narrowly beats Modelo Especial, that’s only 4.4% ABV strong.
Corona doesn’t have any heavy beers, so Modelo wins by default. Modelo Reserva and Modelo Negra are the strongest beers bearing the Modelo name. They come in at 5.5% ABV and 5.4% ABV respectively.
Modelo vs. Corona: Nutritional Value
While beer may not be the healthiest drink, they do contain carbs. And if you’re watching your weight, this information can help you choose the right drink.
In the light division, Modelo is the healthier of the pair. Per 12 fl oz serving, Modelo Oro only contains 90 calories. Corona Light has 99 calories in the same quantity of beer. The outcome is no surprise, given that Corona light has a superior alcohol content.
In the middle-weight division, Modelo wins again. Per 12 fl oz serving, Modelo Especial contains 143 calories, while there are 148 calories in Corona Extra. Again, Corona is the stronger alcohol; hence, the more calories.
Let’s see how the rest of the Modelo lineup fairs:
- Modelo Reserva Tequila Barrel – 185 calories per 12 fl oz
- Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel- 185 calories per 12 fl oz
- Modelo Negra – 180 calories per 12 fl oz
Modelo vs. Corona: Food Pairings
The wrong meal and beverage combination can ruin a great beer. With that said, which foods go well with our Mexican beers?
Corona Light and Modelo Oro are light beers that pair well with spicy foods and salads. The crispy taste of these beers neutralizes the heat of the spices.
Modelo Oro and Corona Light are perfect for the following dishes:
- Fried Fish
- Buffalo Wings
- Hot Dogs
- French Fries
Modelo Especial and Corona Extra pair well with barbecue, steak, and Mexican food. Below are appropriate food pairings for Modelo Especial, Modelo Reserva Tequila Barrel, and Corona Extra beers:
- Barbecue ribs
- French Fries
- Mozzarella Sticks
On the darker end of the spectrum, Modelo Reserva Bourbon Barrel tastes better with pork chops, brisket, pizza, and jerk chicken. Modelo Negra pairs well with pizza, sausages, burgers, and goulash.
Beer choice is a matter of personal taste, and with this information, you have the tools to make an informed decision. With Modelo and Corona, Mexico is showcasing its rich beer culture. And as it seems, they are giving American brewers a run for their money.
Do you agree with our views? Let us know in the comment section below.
As a homebrewer, Michael would get frustrated about the lack of brewing information on the internet. After hundreds of gallons of spoilt batches, Micheal had enough. And he founded Unknown Brewing as a resource for homebrewers.