Modelo vs. Corona Beer – Which Mexican Brew Reigns Supreme?

When it comes to Mexican beers, two giants reign supreme: Modelo and Corona. Whether you’re unwinding on a hot summer day or celebrating Cinco de Mayo, chances are you’ve enjoyed a sip of one or the other. But have you ever wondered what sets these two iconic brands apart?

This blog post dives deep into the heritage, flavors, brand stories, and distinctive characteristics of Modelo and Corona. If you’re passionate about beer or simply curious, read on for an illuminating tour of these two Mexican classics.

The Heritage and Origins

Understanding the roots of Modelo and Corona helps us appreciate the history behind each sip. Let’s delve into where these beers originated and what influenced their unique characteristics.

The Story of Modelo


Founded in 1925, Grupo Modelo is the brewer responsible for bringing these beers to life. The flagship beer, Modelo Especial, originated as a pilsner-style lager. Modelo Negra, a Munich-style dunkel, was introduced later, offering a richer and more complex flavor profile. Modelo is steeped in traditional Mexican brewing methods.

The original brewmasters were trained in the German and Austrian schools of beer-making, imparting a European flair to this Mexican classic. This duality of heritage is evident in the balance and complexity of these beers, which make them versatile for various culinary pairings and occasions.

The Making of Corona


Corona was born slightly earlier, in 1925, by Grupo Modelo as well. Yes, you read that right. Both beers come from the same parent company! However, Corona is often regarded as the lighter, more beach-oriented sibling. The focus of Corona is to offer a beer that’s extremely approachable, primarily targeting relaxed outdoor environments.

While Modelo embraces a blend of Mexican and European brewing traditions, Corona leans more towards the light and crisp attributes commonly found in American and Mexican pale lagers. This gives it its quintessential lightness and accessibility.

The Flavor Profile

Taste is subjective, but there are distinct attributes that set Modelo and Corona apart. Here’s a deep dive into the flavor profiles of these two beers.

Modelo’s Depth and Complexity

Modelo offers two primary variants: Especial and Negra. Especial is a pilsner-style lager with a light, crisp taste but with a more robust hop character than Corona. Negra provides a different experience altogether: think caramel, dark malts, and a smooth finish.

  • Especial: Balanced, crisp, and slightly hoppy
  • Negra: Caramel notes, malty richness, and a smooth finish

Corona’s Light and Refreshing Essence

CORONA beer taste

Corona Extra and Corona Light are the brand’s front-runners. Extra has a lighter taste profile with mild, malty flavors, a hint of citrus, and a lack of bitter hops. Light takes it a step further, delivering an even lighter experience.

  • Extra: Mildly malty, a touch of citrus, and super light
  • Light: Virtually the same as Corona Extra but with fewer calories and less alcohol

Market Presence and Popularity

Modelo and Corona are not just beers; they’re brands that command a significant market presence. Let’s explore how these beers stack up in the market.

Modelo’s Rise in Popularity

Over the last few years, Modelo has seen a surge in its market presence, especially in the United States. Its balance of flavor and versatility make it a popular choice for a wide range of beer drinkers. According to market reports, Modelo Especial has been one of the fastest-growing beers in the United States, owing much to its appeal among younger consumers who are exploring beyond mainstream choices.

Corona’s Global Footprint

Corona enjoys an established global footprint, being one of the top-selling beers worldwide. Its iconic clear bottle and lime wedge have become symbols of relaxation and vacation, strengthening its global brand identity. Corona’s marketing campaigns often leverage this, featuring beach settings and the theme of ‘finding your beach,’ which has resonated with a wide audience.

Brand Identity and Marketing

Brand Identity and Marketing

Both Modelo and Corona have strong brand identities but have taken different routes to engage their audience.

The Rugged Versatility of Modelo

Modelo has often aligned itself with characteristics of grit, hard work, and authenticity. Its marketing campaigns frequently feature real stories of individuals who have overcome obstacles, embodying the versatile and genuine nature of the beer itself.

Corona’s Beachside Elegance

On the other hand, Corona sells not just a beer but a lifestyle. With its clear bottles, blue labels, and obligatory lime wedge, it offers an image of beachside relaxation and leisure. This identity has become so ingrained that even the mere sight of a Corona bottle can evoke thoughts of sandy beaches and ocean waves.

Pairing Recommendations

Pairing with Modelo

Choosing the right food pairing can elevate your beer experience. Here are some recommendations to enhance your Modelo or Corona moment.

Pairing with Modelo

Modelo beers offer a rich flavor palette that pairs excellently with hearty meals. For Modelo Especial, consider:

  • Spicy foods like tacos or jalapeño poppers
  • BBQ and grilled meats
  • Seafood such as shrimp or fish tacos

For Modelo Negra, the darker tones go well with:

  • Rich stews or braised meats
  • Chocolate-based desserts

Pairing with Corona

Corona’s light and refreshing nature makes it an excellent choice for lighter foods:

  • Fresh salads
  • White fish or chicken
  • Lighter Mexican foods like ceviche or guacamole

The Final Verdict

In this battle choosing a winner boils down to personal preference. Both beers offer distinctive flavors, brand identities, and pairings that can cater to different moods and occasions.

What Makes Modelo Unique

If you are looking for a beer with more robust flavors and a versatile profile that pairs well with a variety of foods, Modelo could be the better choice for you.

Why Choose Corona

If you’re in the mood for something light, easy-going, and universally inviting—perhaps while lounging on a beach—this is your go-to beer.


How did Modelo and Corona enter the U.S. market?

Corona began exporting its products to the U.S. in 1981 and gained rapid popularity, often referred to as the “Corona phenomenon.” Modelo Especial followed Corona into the U.S. market in 1990.

What is the alcohol content in Modelo and Corona?

Modelo Especial has an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 4.4%, while Negra Modelo has an ABV of 5.4%. Corona Extra has an ABV of 4.6%.

Who owns Modelo and Corona?

In 2012, Anheuser-Busch InBev acquired Grupo Modelo for $20.1 billion. The following year, AB InBev sold Grupo Modelo’s U.S. business to Constellation Brands, retaining rights to Corona and Modelo everywhere except in the U.S.

What are some popular cocktails made with Modelo and Corona?

The Michelada is a popular beer cocktail made with lime juice, cerveza, and salt. In the U.S., it often includes spiced tomato juice. The drink has many variations, including the Michelada Cubana, which includes hot sauce, Maggi sauce, and Worcestershire.

What do professionals say about Modelo and Corona?

Chelsea Hoff prefers Corona with lime after a long day of winemaking. David Roth suggests trying Negra Modelo and Modelo Especial, while Joe Palminteri prefers Negra Modelo for its rich flavor and smoothness.

How do Modelo and Corona rank in terms of sales?

Corona is considered the world’s most valuable beer brand, with gross revenue of more than $5.8 billion. Modelo isn’t far behind, with a total revenue of over $3.3 billion.

Are there any health considerations when choosing between Modelo and Corona?

While the article did not specify, some other sources suggest that Modelo may be the healthier option with fewer calories per serving compared to Corona Light.

How have Modelo and Corona evolved over the years?

Corona and Modelo have both become beloved imported beers among American drinkers, ranking sixth and seventh, respectively, as best-sellers in the U.S. market. Despite Corona’s unfounded association with the novel coronavirus, it has maintained its popularity.

Final Words

Both beers have carved out their unique places in the beer world, catering to different tastes and lifestyles. In the end, the choice between Modelo and Corona might just depend on how you’re feeling at the moment. Cheers!