There are certain countries in this world that are known for their beers. Germany is probably the most well-respected beer-producing country in the world with their delicious witbiers, lagers, pilsners, helles, and dunkels. Belgium and the United Kingdom have made names for themselves in the world of beer as well. And, of course, I have to give a shoutout to Ireland for inventing my favorite brew in the world: Guinness. One country that is absolutely not known for its beer, though, is Guatemala. In fact, I bet that most people in the United States couldn’t name a single beer from Central America (not including Mexico, which is technically in North America anyway).
Well, there’s a reason you’ve probably never heard of any Guatemalan beers and that’s because they aren’t very good. No need to sugarcoat it. This is a nation known for its masterfully made Mayan tapestries, its abundance of volcanoes, its friendly people, and its national bird the quetzal. Guatemala has a ton of things going for it! Beer is not one of those things. If you go for an evening out with a group of Guatemalans, you’ll probably end up drinking Quetzalteca, their local variety of aguardiente that comes in several very strange flavors, including tamarind, hibiscus, blackberry, horchata, and Jamaican rose.
But, if you’re a beer-drinker like myself and the mere thought of drinking hibiscus-flavored aguardiente makes you nauseous, you’re going to want to know about the beers offered in Guatemala, which ones to avoid at all costs and which ones are palatable. So, in this article, I’m going to attempt every Guatemalan beer in order from best to worst. The research process behind this article was incredibly strenuous, as you can imagine.
1. Cabro Extra
At the risk of angering an entire nation, I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Cabro Extra is the best Guatemalan beer. It should be noted, though, that this is not the most popular beer in the country. That honor goes to the next brew on this list. But, in terms of flavor and drinking experience, Cabro Extra wears the crown in my opinion.
The word cabro transfers to “goat” in English, which is ironic because “G.O.A.T.” is a commonly used acronym in English to denote the greatest of all time. Is Cabro Extra a great beer? Not really. But it’s certainly better than the rest of your options on a typical Guatemalan menu. Many have compared its flavor and full body to a lager; however, it’s really just cerveza. If you’ve tasted Dos Equis Lager Especial, then you know what to expect from Cabro Extra.
Gallo is by far the most popular beer in all of Guatemala. Go into any bar or store in the entire nation and you will, without fail, be able to purchase Gallo. In fact, if you drive down the highway in Guatemala, you’ll see some billboards of the Gallo logo that are bigger than most of the houses in the region.
There’s a reason Gallo is known as Nuestra Cerveza (meaning “Our Beer”) and sports the words “tradicion y orgullo de Guatemala” on the bottle (meaning “tradition and pride of Guatemala”). Guatemalans absolutely love Gallo. I’ve asked several locals what their favorite beers are, every single one has responded that Gallo is dearest to their heart. Personally, I think that Gallo is alright. It’s a cerveza akin to Corona Extra that’s light and refreshing after you’ve been in the sun all day. It’s the kind of beer every country needs: something relatively flavorless that you can drink for hours on end. It’s also typically the cheapest beer on the menu, which definitely aids in its popularity.
3. Cabro Reserva
The Cabro brand is produced by Cerveceria Nacional, which kicked off the brand with Cabro Extra all the way back in 1929. However, in 2012, they unveiled Cabro Reserva as a premium option with a more accentuated flavor. In my opinion, they should have never tampered with the formula. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Cabro Extra has enjoyed popularity for nearly a century because of its simplicity. On the other hand, the more “flavorful” Cabro Reserva is trying to be something that it’s not.
It’s as if the employees at Cerveceria Nacional tried to come up with something like a German-style lager but ended up just making an oddly flavored cerveza. Cabro Reserva is not a bad beer, though. However, due to the fact that it’s more expensive than Cabro Extra and not as tasty, there’s almost no reason to ever drink it.
4. Dorada Draft
The Dorada brand of beer gets a pretty bad reputation among Guatemalans (in my experience). However, I believe that’s a result of poor marketing rather than a poor product. Personally, I thought that Dorada Draft was a decent beer. Unfortunately, the label looks as if they stole the Miller High Life label and did some shotty work in Microsoft Paint to insert their own brand name.
The bottle that Dorada Draft comes in is also clear and looks slightly cheap, whereas Cabro and Gallo come in more luxurious brown glass with contoured bottlenecks. Something about the bottling of Cabro and Gallo just seems more substantial than Dorada Draft. If you put Dorada Draft in a different bottle, who knows where it could end up on this list? But, overall, Dorada Draft is a decent brew that’s been done a disservice by its packaging.
5. Monte Carlo
Alright, here’s where things take a sharp turn for the worst. If you stop reading this article right here, honestly, that’s fine. None of the beers from here on out should be consumed in even the most dire circumstances, and that includes Monte Carlo. This beer’s packaging looks a bit like that of Stella Artois and, in truth, looks pretty classy and nice. But all pleasantries cease the moment you pop that bottlecap.
Monte Carlo has a weird hoppy flavor to it, mildly similar to that of Heineken, that has absolutely no place in a Guatemalan beer. Every bottle of Monte Carlo that I’ve tried tastes as if it’s been improperly stored and has skunked several times over.
6. Dorada Ice
According to Cerveceria Centro Americana, the producers of the Dorada brand, Dorada Ice is produced by filtering the beer in extreme, subzero temperatures. I believe that their intent was to give the beer a more crisp and refreshing taste. However, what they really did was pour dirty dishwater into a tacky, blue bottle and sell it for 20 Quetzales each.
The flavor of Dorada Ice is akin to that of Coors Light, one of the worst light beers ever made in the United States. I have seen quite a few Guatemalan construction workers consuming Dorada Ice on the side of the road, so there must be a section of this country’s population that enjoys this beer. Personally, I think it’s awful.
7. Gallo Light
Regular Gallo is pretty darn light as it is, so who thought it would be a good idea to make an even lighter version? They might as well just sell an empty bottle because drinking Gallo Light is essentially like drinking air. There’s absolutely no flavor to it, you won’t get a buzz from it, and you’ll probably pee it out immediately after drinking it.
I’ve only seen Gallo Light being sold in one or two places since I’ve been in Guatemala, which tells me that the Guatemalans also recognize that this beer is not worth drinking and definitely not worth spending their hard-earned money on. If Gallo is the national pride of Guatemala, Gallo Light is an affront to all that Guatemalans hold dear.
My blood pressure is rising even as I type the name of Moza. This is perhaps the worst beer I have ever tasted in my entire life. It’s intended to be a bock-style beer; however, what they really created was an overly sweetened atrocity. The flavor of Moza is like someone took the leftover, half-drank beers from last night’s frat party, put it in a bucket, and mixed in a diabetic dose of molasses.
To make matters worse, every time I ask for Negra Modelo (one of my favorite beers in the world) at a restaurant and they don’t have it, they suggest that I try a Moza instead. It’s like asking for caviar and being served canned sardines. In my humble opinion, Moza should be eliminated from this world once and for all.
Hibiscus and Jamaican rose are the same thing.Yes, a lot of those beers are dull. Why not review the good beers from Antigua Cerveza and Cervecería 14?