I was quite surprised to find Negra Modelo on the list. I had never really researched the history of Vienna Lagers and it had never occured to me that a Mexican beer would be a documented example of the style. It seems Austrian immigrants brought the style over to Mexico in the 1800s, and darker examples like Negra Modelo are actually closer to the original Vienna Lagers. The style seems to have been widely replaced by the close-but-not-quite Oktoberfest/Märzen style (category 3B) in modern European breweries.
So, here is my review of Negra Modelo – a fine example of this great style, and a fine beer in general!
After pouring, the beer smells somewhat nutty and toasty, indicitive that it is balanced towards the malty end of the spectrum. It is an understated yet inviting aroma – no unpleasant or harsh odors detected.
The beer pours with a thick, white head which takes a little while to settle. It is a very appealing dark copper color, not surprisingly very similar to an Oktoberfest. The clarity is great – overall, a very impressive looking brew.
The flavor keeps me coming back for more. For some reason, I never thought of Negra Modelo as a quality beer. I think I’ve actually avoided it in the past thinking it was swill. However, after giving it a chance, I am pleasantly surprised! True to style, the beer has a strong malt backbone, with some biscuity/toasty flavors rolling around. There are just enough hops to balance the malt out – the hops are not in your face hoppy, but keep the malt from tasting sickeningly sweet. The beer finishes with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
Carbonation is on the medium to low side – just enough to create a little bite on the palate. The beer has an overall smooth sensation – medium thickness, enough to coat the mouth slightly. The word “chewy” comes to mind, but not in the super-thick milkshake stout sense.
I am impressed with this beer – I can’t quite call it a favorite yet, but it has earned a spot on the rotation for future tastings. It is a little heavy for session or summer drinking, so take that into account. Would make a wonderful fall beer (like it’s cousin the Märzen) and would pair nicely with some heavier or spicier foods. If you haven’t tried Negra Modelo, give it a shot – you might be pleasantly surprised!