Thursday, April 19, 2012

Corona Light - Corona - Corona Familiar

As another Cinco de Mayo approaches, it seemed like a good time to get in a review of Corona Beers. They are brewed and bottled by the Cerveceria Modelo of Mexico.

I also wanted to use this tasting as test to see if a mystery could be solved.  As you know, Corona comes in a familiar clear bottle.  Recently in my area, brown quart bottles of Corona Familiar became available.  I had never seen Corona in a brown bottle.  A search on the internet revealed a debate, with some saying Familiar is just regular Corona with the Spanish "familiar" indicating a "family" size.  Others insisted that the Familiar is in fact a higher alcohol and distinctly different tasting Corona.

I thought the tasting might help resolve this.  Clear bottles let in full light and are notorious for creating sun-damaged flavor and "skunked" beers.  Brown bottles let in much less light, which generally protects the flavor more.  Of course, cans let in no light.  So, I will try the Corona in a clear bottle, a can, and the brown bottle.  If the beers are the same, the can, having been the most protected, should taste the best.  The flavor distinctions, if any, might help clarify if the Familiar is regular Corona in a brown bottle, or something different.  What is your opinion?

Corona Light -
     Clear bottle:  The beer pours a light and pale yellow golden in color.  There is quite a bit of carbonation and a tall half-inch of pure white foamy head.  The aroma is light, corn, cooked corn, apple, with a very light flowery note.  The taste is even lighter than the aroma, hard to pick out many distinct flavors, just a very light lager beer.  While the flavor is incredibly light, it is not off-putting in any way.  The carbonation is noticeable, but not stinging.  However, the overall effect is fairly watery, with the slightest hint of corn-like creaminess.

     Can:  The beer pours the same ghostly pale yellow as from the bottle, however, there is almost no head and the carbonation appears much more subdued in the glass.  The aroma is similar, but less of an apple note.  The flavor and mouthfeel are essentially identical, however, although the carbonation is less visible, it is more apparent on the tongue.  The bottle was obviously not skunked and the container made little difference here.

Corona -
     Clear bottle:  The beer pours a pure golden yellow in color with a quarter inch of pure white head.  It is well-carbonated, with a swirl rising upwards in the glass.  The aroma is grainy, corn, a bit funky/skunky although not in an off-putting way, with a grassy and tart edge.  The taste is light grain, a little sweeter than the aroma would indicate, with a straw-funk note and a light grassy bitterness on the finish.  Pretty ordinary as adjunct lagers go.

     Can:  The beer pours a slightly lighter yellow golden than in the bottle.  Like with the Light, there is a smaller head and less visible carbonation when poured from the can. The aroma is lighter than from the bottle, the funky/skunky note is gone.  Both a sweetness and the grassy tart edge are more apparent.  The taste is lighter too, and its sweet and tart notes don't blend as well.  I love German-style lagers, the ones with the strong notes of straw and funk.  So, I actually preferred the bottle here.

     Brown bottle (Familiar):  The beer pours a light yellow golden in color, a little lighter than the clear bottle, a little darker than from the can.  There is a shorter head than the clear bottle, more head than the can.  The visible carbonation is also somewhere in the middle.  The aroma is very similar to that of the can.  Wow, the taste again, guess what, falls right in between that of the clear bottle and the can.  The same tastes are there, grain, some sweet, tart, grassy, very light bitter, and just a touch of funkiness.  There was no funk in the can, a decent amount in the clear bottle.

Having tasted all three right next to each other, I would say that Familiar is regular Corona and not its own beer.  The variations are interesting, but small enough that they would appear to be attributable to the differing effects of the container on the beer, the clear letting in lots of light and "skunking", the can letting in nothing and being quite bland, and the brown bottle letting in some light and being somewhere in between.  The can was actually the worst of the three, as it was the most bland and light in every way.  The Familiar splits the difference nicely.

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