Dos Equis Vs Amber

Dos Equis Lager and Dos Equis Ambar are the two primary beer offerings of the Dos Equis brand, which is perhaps the fastest growing in the United States in recent times. For ages, there have been debates about the two beers and which is the better offering. In this article, we will try to answer that. Before we go into detail, here is a quick answer.

Dos Equis is a Mexican beer first brewed in Mexico in 1897 under the name Siglo XX, which is the Dos Equis Ambar we know today. Dos Equis Lager and Ambar are both lagers; however, the former is an American lager, while the latter is a Vienna lager. Dos Equis Ambar is also the stronger and heavier of the two beers.

This answer doesn’t detail all the relevant questions about the two beers. This article will overview the history, beer classification, and brewing process of both beers. Also, we will consider characteristics like flavor, mouthfeel, smell, calories, alcohol content, and appearance. All of this will ultimately inform the final decision of which is the better beer. Let’s dive right in then!

man holding cans of dos equis lager and dos equis ambar
Let’s try them out!


In 1897, German immigrant Wilhelm Hasse brewed the first Dos Equis beer. This came seven years after establishing the Moctezuma Brewery in Veracruz, Mexico. The beer was initially known as Siglo XX, Spanish for “Twentieth Century,” a reference to the approaching 20th century.

The company changed the beer’s name to Dos Equis after the turn of the 20th century. This is derived from XX, the Roman numeral for 20. Another reference to the new century can be found here. Dos Equis literally means “two Xs” in Spanish.

Today, the original Siglo XX is what we know as Dos Equis Ambar. The other variety of the Dos Equis beer was Dos Equis Lager Especial, first exported to the United States in 1983. Today, Dos Equis is among the top five Mexican beer brands in the United States.

Beer Classification

Despite having the same ingredients, Dos Equis Ambar and Dos Equis Lager are two very different beers. Their classification also shows this. Before we get into their complete classification, note that they are both lagers. This is because they are bottom-fermented at cold temperatures.

Sub-classifying is not nearly as straightforward as the initial classification as a lager. There are a few requirements the beer must satisfy. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, they include bitterness (measured in International Bitterness Units), color intensity (measured in Standard Reference Method), and alcohol content (measured in alcohol by volume).

In line with standard guidelines, Dos Equis Lager is classified as an American lager, while Dos Equis Ambar is classified as a Vienna-style lager.


Both beers are quite flavorful and balanced in nature. Dos Equis Ambar has subtle hints of caramel and burnt sugar. There are also noticeable hints of barley in Dos Equis Ambar. The other beer, Dos Equis Lager, also has a roasted malt flavor but lacks the caramel flavor noticed in Dos Equis Ambar. The difference in flavor between the two is relatively easy to identify.

Furthermore, both beers are not overly bitter. Instead, there are only subtle hints of bitterness. In addition, they both do not leave a lingering bitter aftertaste. If anything, Do Equis Ambar leaves slight citrus and spicy aftertaste.

Moreover, while Dos Equis Lager and Dos Equis Ambar excel in drinkability, the former is more drinkable than the latter. Also, Dos Equis Lager is more refreshing than its amber counterpart.


Dos Equis Lager Especial and Dos Equis Ambar Especial are smooth drinks. But Dos Equis Ambar is the heavier of the two brews. This makes perfect sense, considering it contains more calories, carbs, and alcohol content. In other words, Dos Equis Ambar is more full-bodied than Dos Equis Lager. Both beers have a nice finish and are generally very drinkable.

Regarding the beer’s mouthfeel, the better beer depends solely on consumer preferences. Some people like their beer to be full-bodied and more like traditional beers. For such people, Dos Equis Ambar would be the better offering.

On the other hand, some people cannot stand traditional beers and want something not as heavy on the mouth. People that fall into this category would prefer Dos Equis Lager.


Both beers have a malty aroma. There may be some hints of fruitiness and a roasted caramel smell in Dos Equis Ambar. You may be unable to differentiate between the two from their scent unless you have substantial experience with both beers.


Calorie count matters a lot in beers today. This has been the case since the 60s, when Americans started paying a lot of attention to the calories consumed.

Dos Equis Ambar has 146 calories per 12 fl. oz. (one can), while Dos Equis Lager has 131 calories per can. Aside from having more calories, Dos Equis Ambar is also richer in carbohydrates, containing 14 grams to Dos Equis Lager’s 11 grams. The implication is simple – Ambar Especial is a significantly heavier beer than lager Especial.

The calorie difference is also significant enough to influence your buying decision if you are on a calorie watch. In relation to other regular beers, Dos Equis Ambar is closer to the industry standard of 150 calories per can.

Alcohol Content

The alcohol content of beer is another significant factor affecting buying choices. It is measured in alcohol by volume (ABV), and the higher the ABV, the higher the amount of pure alcohol in the beer.

According to Dos Equis’ official website, Ambar Especial has an ABV of 4.7%, while lager Especial has an ABV of 4.2%. Some platforms report that Dos Equis Ambar has as much as 4.9%, but we will stick with the officially reported alcohol content (the one that’s also present on the can I have next to me).

The difference in alcohol content between Ambar Especial and lager Especial is 0.5%, and that’s not negligible in the drinking world, even when you drink small quantities. That 0.5% difference becomes more glaring as you drink more of the beer.

The alcohol content of a beer affects how drinkable it is. As Ambar Especial is more alcoholic than lager Especial, it becomes less drinkable after extended drinking, say two cans of the beer. Therefore, if you are drinking a lot of beer, Dos Equis Lager would be your better option.


Consistent with the theme of this article, there’s a noticeable difference in the appearance of Dos Equis Ambar and Dos Equis Lager. The former has a reddish amber to copper color, while the latter has a medium yellow to golden color. Ambar Especial is noticeably deeper and duller in color than lager Especial.

Other than the apparent difference in the color of the bottle, the containers of both beers are also very different. Ambar Especial typically comes in brown to copper bottles, while lager Especial comes in green bottles.

Brewing Process And Ingredients

Dos Equis Ambar and Dos Equis Lager are both lagers, meaning they are bottom-fermented beers.

Being beers of the same brand, they have the same essential ingredients: water, malted barley, corn starch/ syrup, hops, and ascorbic acid. The corn in these ingredients serves as the beer adjunct, modifying its flavor and giving rise to smoother beers. Ascorbic acid is used as an antioxidant and increases the shelf lives of the beers.

Because of the malted barley in these beers, they both contain gluten. As such, people who are sensitive to gluten should avoid both beers.

To make much lighter beers, brewers usually reduce the alcohol content or carbs they use in brewing beer. The most likely option here is a reduction of calories, exemplified by the significantly lower carbs content in Corona Premier.

The brewing process is mainly going to be similar. Differences may only arise in the number of sugars used in brewing, which is a way to control how much alcohol yeast produces. As Ambar Especial has more alcohol and calories, more sugars would be used during brewing.

Brand Image

Dos Equis didn’t have the smoothest of rides to the top of the Mexican beer sales charts. Despite making its US debut in 1983, it was not until after 2006’s Most Interesting Man In The World advertisement campaign that the beer started recording record sales.

In 2009, three years after the advertisement campaign, the beer was declared the fastest growing import in the United States. With 2 million barrels shipped in 2017, the beer now ranks third among Mexican beers in terms of sales in the US.

Both beers are never really marketed separately, with the brand leaving fans to choose which of the beers they prefer.

What Do People Think About Both Beers?

We all cannot have the same beer preferences. However, when comparing beers, what several people and reputable beer platforms think of the beers can be a decent reflection of the quality of the beers. For the purpose of this article, we will restrict ourselves to five of the most common beer review platforms today.

PlatformDos Equis AmbarDos Equis Lager
Average Score7.47.1

From the average score, Dos Equis Ambar is the better of the two beers, although not by much. The first four platforms are the biggest beer review platforms online. From their ratings, they think Ambar Especial is better than lager Especial. However, there may be a bit of bias here.

The four platforms contain reviews from more experienced and possibly older drinkers. These older drinkers would likely favor Ambar Especial because it is the more traditional of the two beers.

The last platform is not on the level of the other four experience-wise. However, its rating likely reflects what younger, more inexperienced drinkers think of the beer. As you can see and may have expected, they favored the lighter of the two beers – lager Especial.

Our Takeaway

Frankly, both beers are decent beer offerings. If you want a more traditional beer, you should go for Dos Equis Ambar Especial. Contrastingly, go for Dos Equis Lager Especial if you want a lighter Dos Equis beer. If you are indifferent, then you may find Ambar Especial slightly better. We do, too!