What does Corona Extra Taste Like (And is it a good beer)?

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To many, Corona tastes like summer. A cold, crisp, and refreshing foil to the sun beating down on a sandy beach or the perfect complement to a burger right off the grill. Corona’s taste is a balanced combination of malts and hops that we all know go with many things. 

Let’s dive into what Corona Extra tastes like, and more importantly, is it any good? (The short answer is yes – for what it sets out to do, Corona Extra is a great beer).

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History: When was Corona Extra released?

Corona Extra was introduced in the United States in 1979. The beer and Corona beer brand has since expanded worldwide and is a top-selling imported beer in the US and globally. 

Corona Extra was not the first beer produced by Grupo Modelo, nor is it the top option for beer drinkers in its native Mexico. Instead, Corona Extra is favored by tourists to the Mexican beach, while many locals prefer a slightly richer version of Corona called Corona Familiar

Classification

Corona Extra is a pale lager that falls appropriately into the International Pale Lager category. This beer resembles the American Lager category with more hop bitterness and flavor.

Though many international pale lagers are all-malt beers, Corona Extra adds corn to the beer to help increase the crisp, refreshing taste, making it a preferred summertime and beach beer. 

The Beer Judge Certification Program, a group that publishes beer style guidelines for amateur brewing competitions, describes the International Pale Lager category in this way:

“A highly-attenuated pale lager without strong flavors, typically well-balanced and highly carbonated. Served cold, it is refreshing and thirst-quenching.”

“Tends to have fewer adjuncts than American Lagers. They may be all-malt, although strong flavors are still a fault. A broad category of international mass-market lagers ranges from up-scale American lagers to the typical “import” or “green bottle” international beers in America and many export markets. Often confusingly labeled as a “Pilsner.” Any skunkiness in commercial beers is a handling fault, not a style characteristic.”

Flavor

Our judge Andy drinking a Corona for the review

According to the BJCP International Pale Lagers, “Low to moderate levels of grainy-malt flavor, medium-low to medium bitterness, with a crisp, dry, well-attenuated finish. The grain character can be somewhat neutral or show a light bready-cracker quality. Moderate corny or malty sweetness is optional. Medium floral, spicy, or herbal hop flavor is optional. Balance may vary from slightly malty to slightly bitter, but it is usually relatively close to even. Neutral aftertaste with light malt and sometimes hop flavors.”

Corona tastes nuanced on the malt side. A light sweetness appears late in the sip, but the malt flavor is relatively neutral and yields a grassy hop flavor with moderate bitterness.

The bitterness is less aggressive than Corona Light, the most pilsner-like of the Corona beers. However, the hop character is more evident than many other Mexican lager examples that may also appear in this category.

Mouthfeel

Mouthfeel refers to the texture and weight of the beer when in your mouth. Beers can be smooth and heavy or light and fizzy. BJCP says that a beer like Corona should be “light to medium body. Moderately high to highly carbonated. Can have a slight carbonic bite on the tongue.”

Corona beers are all light and highly carbonated, which leaves the beer drinker with a dry taste.

Served very cold, the beer may be perceived as light-bodied, but as it warms, it transforms into a medium-bodied beer. Interestingly, despite feeling heavier on the palate, a warm Corona taste is less flavorful and watery. 

Aroma

Corona smells of hops, slightly skunky and grassy. I enjoy the aroma of skunky hops, which occurs when UV light chemically reacts with alpha acids. This is puzzling to me with Corona as I had always assumed they utilized tetra hops that did not react with sunlight and allowed them to be packaged in the clear bottle that is now iconic.

As far as other lagers in this category, BJCP’s aroma description looks for a “low to medium-low grainy-malty or slightly corny-sweet malt aroma. Very low to medium spicy, floral, or herbal hop aroma. Clean fermentation profile.” 

I did not pick up any corn-like aroma in my sample; the fermentation was clean and appropriate for the style.   

Appearance

Corona is yellow to light gold. Poured into a pint glass, the beer failed to keep a long-lasting head of foam. BJCP does not penalize a beer for this, but it’d be nice if more breweries prioritized this. While hazy beers are very much in vogue, the Corona I had was clear, as should other examples in this category be. 

Corona Extra Calories and Nutritional Information

Regular Corona is a full-strength beer with 148 calories and 1.2 grams of protein per serving. Different recipes under the Corona brand offer fewer calories per serving. Corona Light has 99 calories, while Corona Premier, as an ultra-light beer option, has 90. Corona also has a line of near-beer options, including Corona Hard Seltzer and Corona Refresca, which offer more citrus flavor but does not mean they have fewer calories than the light beers

Corona Extra Alcohol Content

Corona has an ABV of 4.6 percent. The average beer is right around five percent alcohol by volume. The slightly less alcohol makes Corona an excellent session beer on a sunny beach. 

Brewing Process & Ingredients

Corona lager is brewed with barley malt, corn, Mexican lager yeast, hops, and water. 

Brewers at Corona will convert starches into sugar during the mash. The mash is where enzymes in the malt will work to break apart long sugar chains, which will, in turn, be consumed by yeast during fermentation. 

Once the mash is complete, the liquid wort is boiled, and hops are added. After the boil, the wort will be cooled, and yeast will be added. Yeast will consume the sugars and create ethanol and carbon dioxide. When fermentation is complete, the beer will rest before being packaged. 

What’s the Best Way to Drink Corona Extra

A blue and sunny day at Rode, Eastern Cape. Enjoying a refreshingly cold Corona Beer with my siblings, just as I held the bottle up, I had a vision and managed to capture the vision with my cousin's Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max, That's how this image was born.
Photo by Gontse Tlhalogang on Unsplash

Temperature

Lagers ferment at cold temperatures. Thus, they tend to taste better when served cold. Serve Corona as cold as possible, preferably near freezing. 

Can, bottle or glass?

There is no denying that drinking Corona out of a bottle is the best way to enjoy Corona, preferably with a lime wedge crammed down the bottle’s neck. Bonus point if you can complete the vibe by sitting on a beach – especially if Snoop Dogg is next to you – but that’s optional.

Corona Extra Food Pairings

Corona can be a very versatile food pairing. Give it a try with the following:

  • Buffalo Wings
  • Korean Pork Sandwich
  • Part of a Margarita Mix
  • All kinds of Mexican Food, especially if accented with a citrusy flavor or a squeeze of lime juice
  • Grilled Shellfish

Corona Extra Would Suit?

Corona is an easy-drinking beer meant to be enjoyed from a clear Corona bottle. It is for those who want to have a good time on hot summer days or when a party kicks off.  

Similar Beers to Corona Extra?

What Do Other People Think of Corona Extra?

Despite being a popular beer, Corona does not hold the same critical acclaim from beer fans.

ReviewerCorona Extra
Untappd3.1 out of 5
Rate Beer3 out of 5
Influenster4.5 out of 5
Beer Advocate3 out of 5 (Awful)
Average3.4 out of 5

Final Thoughts: Is Corona Extra a Good Beer?

Nothing beats a Corona Extra on a hot summer day. It’s a refreshing beer with an almost sweet finish balanced by a pleasantly bitter aftertaste. Perfect for right out of the glass bottle with a lime wedge. There is a reason why it is the best-selling beer worldwide, not to mention why so many other Mexican beers offer a Corona-style beer. 

Sources:

https://www.bjcp.org/style/2021/2/2A/international-pale-lager/

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Author

Andy Sparhawk is an avid beer lover and the former editor-in-chief for CraftBeer.com. Andy is the lead writer for The Beer Babe and lives in Westminster, Colorado, with his family. As beer enthusiast and experienced beer judge, he loves sharing his experiences with The Beer Babe's dedicated audience of beer enthusiasts.