What Does Modelo Negra Taste Like? Detailed Review

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When we think of Mexican beers, we probably envision a pale beer in an icy cold glass or condensation-covered clear bottle – maybe with a lime wedge crammed in the top.

In contrast, dark beer conjures thoughts of cozying up to a toasty fire – huddled up enjoying some grilled meats, perhaps in a Colorado ski town or at a Munich festival. And yet, the beer we will discuss today is an iconic Mexican beer. 

Negra Modelo is a dark lager brewed in Mexico by Grupo Modelo. The same brewery to bring you Corona, Modelo Especial, and Victoria – all light, crisp lagers – also brews a Munich Dunkel style lager with slow roasted caramel malts that creates a medium bodied lager with rich flavor, blanched by super galena hops for a remarkably smooth taste that still has the distinctive taste that is classic cerveza flavor. 

History: When was Modelo Negra released?

How did Mexico become a huge fan of Munich dunkel style lager? I’ll tell you.

Large numbers of German immigrants settled in Mexico during the 19th Century. This immigration significantly influenced Mexican culture, including the county’s preferred beer styles. Before German-style lagers, native Mexicans preferred fermented corn beverages, like pulque or chicha. Over time, and with the help of a smear campaign to label these historic drinks as unsafe, pulque and chicha became replaced by pilsner-style lagers and German amber beers. 

One of the companies that benefited from the newfound preference for German lagers was Cerveceria Modelo, founded in Mexico City in 1925. Later, in 1926, the brewer introduced Modelo Negro, a full flavored dark brew that was an equally refreshing beer as the pale, pilsner styles like Corona Extra or Modelo Especial are. 

Today, dark Mexican beer is still popular, and Modelo Negra is a perfect example of an easy drinking beer that bridges two cultures. 

Classification

Until now, we have referred to Negra Modelo as a Dunkel, but that’s how the brewery describes it. It could fit into the category, but the Beer Judge Certification Program, which creates style guides for amateur brewing competitions, places it as a classic style under Vienna Lager. Many beer styles overlap particularly German lagers. Now would be a good time to grab a tasting glass, pry the strong bottle cap from the beautiful gold foil, and taste for yourself. Below are my notes. 

Aroma

Brown bread, light treacle; despite it being a Mexican beer, the smell reminds me of a cold day at a pub. I reviewed this beer in July, and though the temperature outside was in the 90s, I got a shiver. It’s wild how a beer can transport you like that.

Appearance

Chestnut brown, tawny, and amber, all from darker malts; I’ve been reviewing a lot of pale beers lately, so the appearance was a sight for sore eyes. Poured from an ornate, brown glass bottle with a foil top, Modelo Negra has a thin white head formed atop the beer. Eventually, the film spread to the edges of the beer but remained more resilient than its pale compadre, Modelo Especial.  

Flavor: What Does Modelo Negra Taste Like?

When was the last time you went to the chain steakhouse Outback? For me, it’s been decades, but with one sip of this beer, I recall the warm brown bread you used to get. And hey – I even get a subtle taste of Diet Coke. How’s that for tasting notes? It would have been really unbelievable if the hop flavor was reminiscent of an Awesome blossom, but no dice. The bitterness was low, and the hops were spicy. To finish it off, I picked up a bit of alcohol taste. 

Mouthfeel

Darker beers get a wrap for being heavy and strong, but this beer is far from that. Medium body with soft carbonation, this beer is a well balanced dark lager with nothing that leads you to think strongly stout. No roast or coffee notes combined with the soft body for an experience most Mexican beers can’t deliver and one that only a beer nerd would appreciate. 

Calories and Nutritional Information

Negra Modelo lists 172 calories, 15.7 carbs, 1.5 grams of protein, and no fat for a 12-ounce serving. 

Alcohol Content

This dark lager has an ABV of 5.4 percent, which is average for the beer industry. 

Brewing Process & Ingredients

Modelo Negra is brewed with water, barley malt, non malted cereals, hops, and yeast. 

What’s the Best Way to Drink Modelo Negra

Temperature

Serve it cold, and note how the flavors develop as the beer warms. 

Can, bottle or glass?

If the beer tastes great, it doesn’t really matter. 

Food Pairings

Amber beers are prized for their versatility. The beer’s roasted malt caramel flavor complements grilled meats, like steaks and sausages, while helping to calm excessive heat, so don’t be afraid of choosing it for particularly spicy dinners. 

Who Would this Dark Lager Suit?

Those looking for a very refreshing beer but are looking for something a bit different from light beers or hazy IPAs.

Similar Dark Beers to Modelo Negra?

Like this style? Try these:

  • Great Lakes Eliot Ness 
  • Boulevard Bobs 47 Munich-Style Lager
  • Old Dominion Aviator Amber Lager
  • Gordon Biersch Vienna Lager
  • Capital Wisconsin Amber
  • Olde Saratoga Lager
  • Penn Pilsner

What Do Other People Think of Modelo Negra?

I was shocked that Beer Advocate reviewers almost like this beer. Overall, review sites give Negra Modelo an average rating value.

ReviewerModelo Negra
Untappd3.3 out of 5
Rate Beer2.7 out of 5
Influenster4.56 out of 5
Beer Advocate3.85 out of 5 (Okay)
Average3.6

Final Thoughts: Is Modelo Negra a Good Beer?

Mexican dark beer? Munich Dunkel? Vienna? Whatever you call it, Modelo Negra makes for a fun night, whether at the beach or in the cold. 

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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.