pacifico bottle of beer on table next to small cup with lemon slices

Mexican beers are the biggest-selling imported beers in the USA. One of the best-known Mexican beers is Pacifico, a surprisingly bitter Mexican-American pilsner. Although Pacifico is very popular, particularly in cities with large Mexican-American populations, many wonder what it tastes like. Let’s answer that question.

Pacifico is a crisp, somewhat bitter Mexican-American pilsner. It has a moderate-to-high level of bitterness and is best suited to a warm day. Many enjoy it with a slice of lemon or lime to highlight its fruitier tasting notes and add some acidic balance. 

Of course, that’s far from the whole Pacifico story. In this article, we’re taking a close look at Pacifico’s history, flavor, appearance, smell, mouthfeel, and brewing process to help you understand all there is to love about this stalwart Mexican beer.


Pacifico has a very light, nicely balanced flavor. Upon taking your first sip, you’ll notice that it lacks any overt corny or syrupy notes. It doesn’t have any of the cloying sweetness of some other beers, and it’s refreshing. It has a light sweetness to its palate, with some clean yeasty notes. There’s a touch of bitterness as the beer finishes, with minimal aftertaste. 

Overall, Pacifico offers an immaculate, easy drinking experience, leaving you very much ready for your next sip. The bitterness on the finish balances this beer quite nicely. It’s only slightly herby and grassy, with a quickly dissipating finish to balance the beer’s grainy flavors. 

If you haven’t tried Mexican beer before or the German beers many of these Mexican beers are based on, you might not have tried placing a slice of citrus in your beer.

Many Mexican beer enthusiasts love to place a freshly cut slice of lime or lemon in their beer. This approach is certainly worth a try, as the citrus brings more flavor and character to the beer. The addition of a slice of lemon doesn’t turn this into a Radler or make your Pacifico taste of lemon juice. Instead, it highlights some of the citric bitterness in Pacifico’s palate, offering a bolder, more assertive flavor profile. 

The naturally clean sweetness of Pacifico goes very well with a slice of lemon. One can easily imagine drinking a lemon-enhanced Pacifico with a fresh Mexican meal or a delicately seasoned slice of firm, white fish.


Pacifico has a very light mouthfeel. More than anything, it’s crisp and smooth, with a very minimal body. This beer is meant for warmer weather, as its consistency is not unlike that of many American lagers. It has a smooth lightness with lively, if not overly assertive, carbonization. 

This beer is refreshing like a blast of sea air and does not stick around too long. As with the beer’s overall flavor, its mouthfeel is designed to be crisp and refreshing, perfect for warmer weather.

This mouthfeel also makes Pacifico great to drink alongside a meal, as it refreshes and cleanses the tongue with every sip.


Raising your glass of Pacifico to your nose will reveal, as expected, lightly yeasty, bready notes. The aroma overall has no particularly strong or inventive character, with light malty grains and a hint of corny sweetness in the background. 

This beer smells like it would go well with a meal, as it wouldn’t obscure or interfere with any of the complex notes of Mexican cuisine.


Pacifico’s full name, Cerveza Pacifico Clara, implies that it’s a clear-looking beer. Lo and behold, you’ll find yourself faced with a clear, pale straw-colored beer when poured into a glass. A snowy white head atop the beer quickly dissipates, lasting less than thirty seconds. 

Pacifico’s packaging bears an anchor and an image of the town of Mazatlán, Sinaloa, to which the beer is native.

Overall, Pacifico is a very clear, light-looking beer, as you’d expect from a flavor palate this clean and refreshing.

Alcohol Percentage & Calories

On the other hand, a bottle of Pacifico contains 140 calories, 14 grams of carbs, and one gram of protein.

It has an ABV of 4.5%, pretty standard for Mexican-American pilsners.

What To Eat With Pacifico

Pacifico tastes almost tailor-made to operate as a palate cleanser when eating a spicy, complex meal.

The obvious choice to pair with Pacifico would be authentic, fresh Mexican cuisine. Seared, seasoned meats with plenty of spice would be a great accompaniment to this beer. Similarly, the classic Mexican flavor palate of salt, citrus, and chili can linger and dominate the palate between courses. Pacifico’s clean, crisp taste, even when paired with a lemon slice, will help cleanse the palate with every sip. For this reason, we’d recommend enjoying a cold Pacifico with the meal and between courses.

Of course, this is not to forget this beer’s German roots. Pacifico’s clean, crisp taste would be perfect for drinking alongside Berlin-style currywurst or intensely flavored bratwurst. 

It should serve to highlight the entire experience of the meal. Pacifico is best enjoyed cold, with a slice of lemon accompanying chimichangas, quesadillas, or enchiladas. 

Why Does Pacifico Taste Like This? 

Pacifico owes most of its clean, crisp taste to applying German brewing techniques to the Mexican market. Pacifico was first brewed by three Germans, Jorge Claussen, Germán Evers, and Emilio Philippy, in 1900. They wanted to brew a blonde beer in the pilsner style. Authentic German pilsners are from the Bohemia region, where brewers imitated the Bavarian style, brewing very clear, crisp beers.

In accordance with their proud German-Mexican brewing history, Pacifico is brewed to this day using Bavarian lager yeast, soft water, pale malt, and Saaz hops. The result is a beer close in character to the original German pilsner, albeit with a unique Mexican twist.

Pacifico Brewing Process

Pacifico is a Mexican-American pilsner with an IBU of 15-18, just short of the Beer Judge Certification Program’s recommendation of 25-40 for an American Pilsner. 

Its color, however, a pale yellow straw, is spot on for an American pilsner, as is its 4.5% ABV. 

Pacifico, because it only misses the American pilsner classification due to its relatively low bitterness, is best classified as a Mexican-American pilsner, adjacent to the broader American pilsner category. 

Pacifico is brewed using bottom-fermenting Bavarian lager yeast at cold temperatures between 35 and 50 F. Pacifico also uses corn as an adjunct in the brewing, with quantities up to 30%. This is a common choice for Mexican beers, as corn is native to the Americas.

Grupo Modelo purchased Pacifico in 1954. American brewing giant Anheuser-Busch attempted to purchase Grupo Modelo in 2008, and the two brewing giants merged in 2013. 

What Do Other People Think?

It’s always worth looking at how others view a brew. We looked at Pacifico reviews from across the internet to see how other drinkers feel about Cerveza Pacifico Clara.

Average Score6.25

As you can see, Pacifico is typically rated towards the middle of the table. 

One Beeradvocate reviewer was very impressed with their Pacifico experience:

I have to say I’m enjoying this beer quite a bit; it drinks very nicely and is very well balanced. A very good beer to refresh with on a hot day. This beer is definitely best drank cold; as it warms some of the smoothness of the the body dissipates as the sweetness shows a little more. Glad to have tried this one, incredibly drinkable and quick to disappear from the glass.


Pacifico Brand Image

Pacifico is clearly marketed as a young, fun, hip Mexican beer. Although Pacifico is owned by the Grupo Modelo, which also sells the successful Modelo brand, it still competes with Modelo and other Mexican pilsners. Modelo is positioned as an authentic Mexican beer compared with some of the more aggressively marketed Mexican beers (like Corona or Modelo) that cater to a broader American market.

Pacifico first became popular in the United States when Californian surfers in the 1970s took a shine to this easy-drinking, crisp beer. As a result, the beer became popular not just among Mexican-Americans in California but among those who were living around the beach. Ultimately, California was the first stop on Pacifico’s world tour, as the beer is now available in many stores worldwide.

Pacifico’s edge in the market comes mainly from its slightly more flavorsome profile when compared with similar Mexican beers. Perhaps it’s Pacifico’s more overt embrace of the beer’s German roots or its stalwart reputation as a more flavorsome drinking experience compared with other beers.

Today, Mexico is the world’s largest beer exporter, overtaking Holland in 2003. In fact, most Mexican beer exports go straight to the USA, a significant reversal of the 20th-century trend that saw American beers attempting to penetrate the Mexican market. Pacifico is still the best-selling Grupa Modelo beer in northwestern Mexico and is still exported to the southwestern USA, where it is popular among the local Mexican population.