The Great West Coast Pacific Beer Rundown, Ensenada, Mexico to Panama City

January 9th, 2007 by: cheyenne

Beers are in order of preference, more or less. All beers are lagers unless otherwise specified (n/l).


Negra Modelo – Choice; our all-time favorite. Dark Amber in color. Excellent with a small bit of lime juice. (n/l) (Modelo Especial is NO comparison.)
Bohemia – Choice. (n/l)
XX Amber – Choice. Infrequently available in our experience along the coastal route. (n/l)

Victoria – Our favorite of the cheapies. Amber in color. (n/l)
Indio – Infrequently available; interesting flavor. Another favorite. Amber in color. (n/l)
XX Lager – Good. For a lager.
Pacifica – Standard lager, okay with lime. Excellent graphic design.
Tecate – Okay, actually tastes different than the other lagers of its class.
Modelo Especial – Really not very especial.
Sol – Blah; watery. I like the clear bottle.
Corona – My least favorite beer of all time, particularly when you take into consideration the hype. Acceptable in flavor ONLY with copious amounts of lime juice. Why oh why would anyone order this when there are so many other better beers out there?


Gallo – Lager; decent.
Bhrava – Indistinguishable from any standard Central American lagers. And, what’s with the spelling?


Port Royal – Good. Our second favorite Central American lager. Order this beer anywhere in Honduras, unless you are in a cowboy bar, in which case, order ‘beer’ and take what you get.
Salva Vida – Standard, indistinguishable lager.
Imperial – Nasty. What you’ll likely be drinking in some cowboy bar in the middle of BFE in order to keep from looking like a pansy.

*** Despite being at the bottom of the list, the D&D Brewery deserves mention; it’s not a standard Honduran beer. It tastes like Oregon. You have to go to the source, the southwestern corner of Lake Yojoa (near the town Los Naranjos), to find this beer but you will not be sorry. D&D is a brewery/guesthouse run by an ex-pat from Oregon and his Honduran wife and he always has a handful of hand-made microbrews at all times. My favorite was the raspberry ale and porter mixed half and half. When we visited, he had hefeweissen, amber, porter, raspberry ale, mango ale, and blueberry ale (blueberries come from a nearby farm). We liked them all except for the mango ale (we didn’t try the blueberry).


Belican – One fine beer. Excellent. We love this beer.
Belican Stout – Stout! My god. What more can you ask for?
Belican Light – Why on earth would you order light beer?


Pilsener – The one-dollar beer of choice. Excellent with lime. Our third favorite Central American lager.
Regia – Kind of weird; not bad though. Fragrant.
Golden – Indistinguishable typical lager.
Bahia and some others… they all taste the same anyway.


Toña – Far and above the more desirable beer. Our favorite of the Central American lagers.
Búfalo – Rare but a pretty good amber.
Victoria – Order Toña.


Imperial – Okay. Maybe the better of the CR lagers. Freaky graphics make you think the Kaiser was coming to stick one of those pointy helmets up your butt.
Pilsen – Startlingly similar to Imperial.
Rock Ice – God-awful graphics that unfortunately affect the flavor in a non-desirable way. Available in lemon flavor.


Panamanian beer. Panama, Soberana, Atlas, Balboa

Panama – (4.8%, 355ml bottle)
Balboa – (4.8%, 285ml bottle)
Soberana – (3.8%, 355ml bottle)
Atlas – (3.8%, 285ml bottle)

Four nearly indistinguishable lagers, Atlas perhaps being a little waterier. All four come in battered recycled bottles with the graphics printed directly on the glass. Based on the above stats alone, Panama is the clear winner as far as your $0.75 is concerned and I have to say that I liked the taste of Panama maybe just a little more than the rest. The graphic design of the bottles is interesting. We liked the contrast of the green Panama bottle with the red, blue, and white label, although I was partial to the vintage cartoon feel of the Atlas logo. The Soberana bottle appears to be going for elegance with a crystal clear bottle and scripty fonts; I get the feeling this is supposed to be a chick beer. And, what’s with the name? Soberana. (Oh, it actually means “sovereign” but for us Englishy types, the apparent meaning is greatly amusing.) We had to check to be sure it was even alcoholic—which is what led us to check the alcohol content for all the rest and reinforced our opinion that Panama was the beer of choice.

7 Comments on “The Great West Coast Pacific Beer Rundown, Ensenada, Mexico to Panama City”

  1. brad says:

    You really liked Imperial better than Pilsen? Maybe I didn’t give Imperial enough of a chance. I may have been prejudiced because of all the frat boys in the airport wearing Imperial t-shirts.

  2. Peg Bowden says:

    Hey—-when the humidity is 90%, and the temperature is 88 degrees, I thought Imperial tasted great. Always came in an icy bottle that dripped all over the table. But then, I don’t remember seeing anything else in Costa Rica.
    Also—Negra Modelo…..did you ever wonder why they have a feminine “Negra” coupled with a masculine “Modelo”? –Mom/Peg

  3. cheyenne says:

    Funny because it was a frat boy who told me that Pilsen was the better beer; I was prejudiced. Quite frankly, I usually put so much lime juice, hot sauce, salsa inglesa, etc. in that lager shite that they have all tasted mostly identical since Mexico.

    Speaking of which, today is a holiday: Day of the Martyrs and now we all must martyr ourselves because no beer is available in the entire country.

  4. brad says:

    I always wondered that same thing about Negra Modelo so I asked a friend who is a native spanish speaker. The answer: Negra is not a modifier of Modelo. Modelo is the brand name. Negra is feminine becase it modifies the absent (but implied) cerveza.

  5. jeff says:

    my two cents
    I like light beer!!!!!!!!
    I also like dark full bodied beer!!!
    I like all your choices its hard to compare
    them together for me because in diff places
    the choice for that country is for best
    avaliable and again i FOLLOW YOUR CHOICES.
    My favorite was Tona of all maybe i was most thirsty then. In Mex i will choose any except corona
    unless all there is corona but usually can get tacate
    and i always enjoy a good salute with you both on
    what ever beer you have on board.I remember pacifico
    is good with lobster, bonito and what ever you fix.
    I will print up the great C.A. beer rundown and post it all the pubs around town and sailing club maybe get some discussion going.
    So i guess my point is way to go salute to you both!!!!

  6. Helen says:

    Belican Stout is my favorite memory of Belize!!!

  7. CJ says:

    Ah, yes. Having spent some time in Panama in the military, I am quite familiar with those beers. My personal favorite was Soberana. Very light, but extremely refreshing during a day at the beach. For a time, they even offered Soberana in the tall bottles, or ‘Manga Larga’ as they were called in Spanish (translates to ‘long sleeve’). Most of my American buddies preferred Atlas, as it is similar in taste to Budweiser. Panama is the current favorite amongst Panamanians and has a less ‘skunky’ smell than Soberana. Balboa is super-smooth; it is what they serve at the big all-inclusive resorts (Decameron, Playa Blanca, Breezes). All four are nice, light beers perfect for the tropics. I saved full bottles of each of these for safekeeping!

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Cheyenne Weil, Joshua Coxwell