Friday, April 18, 2014

Maybe People Like it?

I wasn't planning on continuing down the road of the economic relationship of domestic versus import versus craft beer. But, in a totally unintended coincidence, I came across an article on Yahoo! Finance today about America's number one import beer—Corona Extra.

Courtesy of Corona's Facebook page
The gist of the article, written by Kyle Stock, is that Corona is bad, yet has managed to climb into the number one spot for imports, and the number 5 spot for best selling beers in the U.S. market overall. Stock asserts that its Constellation Brand's (Corona's former U.S. importer and as-of-last-year, the owners) marketing strategy that is the impetus for the brand's success. Essentially, he says, that it's Cororna's laid-back, beach-vibe that does the selling—not the beer's flavor. Stock, cites Rate Beer and Beer Advocate reviewers and rankings in his article, noting that BA gives Corona an "awful" rating of 55 out of 100, and that it doesn't even break 2 out of a possible 10 on Rate Beer.

I have to tell you, I don't buy that. First off, I think we can all agree that those who do the ratings on those sites might be a bit biased against mass-produced light lagers in the first place. Secondly, I'm not sure how hard Corona is really being pushed by Constellation. Sure, I see the occasional Corona ad, with a little more push around Cinco de Mayo, but no more than I see advertising for big craft, like Sam Adams.

Here's the thing, I actually like Corona. Add a lime wedge and you've got a pretty great barbecue and picnic beer. I've always thought Corona was a nice alternative to the corny-sweet American made macros. There's been a thousand time that I've been to a party or watching the game at someones house and they said "Oh, man, your a craft beer drinker, right? All I have is Corona, is that cool.?"

Of course it's cool.

So, maybe—and I'd imaging to the chagrin of all those BA reviewers—people drink Corona, because they just like it.


  1. As a BA reviewer and Corona drinker, I think you're discounting a very large part of the experience of "enjoying a Corona". In food + drink alike, a lot of our enjoyment comes not only from the tangible sense of taste/site/smell, but also from the intangible, associative enjoyment. When I drink a Yuengling, for example, I'm not savoring its complexity, admiring its color or applauding its aroma. To me, it tastes "good," but good-tasting turns into "great-experience" b/c it reminds me of my summer-internships in Washington, DC while I was in college. On hot summer evenings after work as the sun went down, my friends and I would hang out on the stoop enjoying a Yuengling while sharing laughs. That association does wonders for your perceived enjoyment of a certain food or drink.

    I think Corona is a great beneficiary of that same idea. It's marketed as a vacation drink that makes you think of the beach, relaxing, summer, etc. Often times that's when we enjoy it, too - in the summer, at a BBQ, after a softball game, etc. It doesn't have to taste great, but already its perceived level of enjoyment is amplified, if even artificially, b/c of its associations. So when you say people "just like it," I think that's what it encompasses.

  2. I understand their marketing strategy. I get the good times vibe and your point about association. But I don't think that's the only reason they're the #5 beer sold in the U.S. Stock tries to vilify Corona, and uses Rate Beer and Beer Advocate as a standard by which to judge it, and quite frankly, that data is skewed. It's not wrong, it just has a bias. Secondly, the author's position is that Corona is successful simply because of its marketing. I don't agree with that. I think people like Corona because they like the way it tastes.

    I do.

  3. Personally, I think Corona is crap, but it's just my opinion, which given how much Corona is drunk worldwide, it's certainly a minority one.

    To put it in other words, no beer is crap if there's someone willing to pay to drink it, and nobody will pay to drink something they dislike

  4. One of the problems I had with that article is it suggested a sulphur note was a negative. In fact, a sulphur taste is characteristic of a lot of quality European lager, it comes from use of very pale malts and traditional strains of lager yeast. So, it's actually a plus in traditional beer terms and as compared say to mass market U.S. beers.


  5. Craig, have you ever had Corona in a glass with no lime? Try it, it's a much different experience. The reason the bottle-with-limewedge tastes relatively good is because the lime is mostly what you're tasting. That's why Budweiser made Bud Light Lime - as a way to get that lime flavor without needing the extra step of adding fruit.

    Corona from the bottle is pretty bad because it's skunky. From the can? Still pretty bad:

  6. Trying a can now, at room temperature (no lime). It has no "corn starchy" twang like in a lot of mass market U.S. beer. Hops evident in the finish. It's an extra light Munch helles basically, or like a glass of Chardonnay if you made it into a spritzer!


  7. I agree with Chad. Corona without the lime is, in my experience, not very good. But with a lime, on a hot sunny day, I'm OK with it. I'd still rather drink craft (maybe not a big Imperial Stout on a hot sunny day), but a Corona with a lime in the neck of the bottle to hide the taste of the beer isn't horrible.