A glass of Corona Beer with the caption 'What Kind Of Beer Is Corona Extra?'

In terms of sales, Corona Extra has led the way among imported beers in the United States, holding that title since 1998. What’s more, it is the best-selling Mexican beer on the planet. Only beers of the highest quality reach these heights. Given its popularity in and around the United States, people often ask questions about Corona Extra. One such question is what kind of beer Corona Extra is. Let’s quickly answer that.

Corona Extra is classified as a premium American lager because of its moderate bitterness (IBU of 18), high carbonization, pale straw color (SRM of 2.1), the alcohol content of 4.6%, the use of rice in the brewing process as an adjunct, and Corona Extra being bottom-fermented rather than top-fermented.

Well, that’s as simple an answer as you will get anywhere. But, there’s far more detail about the kind of beer Corona Extra is. Here, we will examine why the beer is regarded as a lager and then why it is grouped as a premium American lager. Also, we will take a brief walk into the history of the beer and consider whether other Corona beers fall under this category.

If you’re interested in knowing what we think about this beer, here’s where you can find our review: What Does Corona Extra Taste Like And Is It Good?

Let’s begin then!

How could we write a review without tasting the beer?

Is Corona Extra A Lager Or Ale?

There are several different types of beers today. However, all beers fall into two broad categories: lagers and ales. The difference between these two general classes is the fermentation technique brewers employ when brewing the beer.

Lagers are beers that are brewed using the bottom fermentation technique. This uses bottom-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces pastorianus) at colder temperatures (35˚–50˚F). Conversely, ales are brewed using the top fermentation technique. As you would imagine, this technique uses top-fermenting yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae and is done at warm temperatures (60˚–70˚F).

Since Corona Extra is brewed using bottom-fermenting yeast at cold temperatures, it is a lager.

What Kind Of Lager Is Corona Extra?

As mentioned, there are different types of beers. The classification as an ale or lager doesn’t do nearly enough justice to the diverse characteristics of beers today. Therefore, many beer certification programs and organizations have guidelines to help with the sub-classification of beer.

We will rely on the guidelines of one of the most reputable of such beer certification programs – the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP). The BJCP considers a variety of factors in determining a beer’s sub-class.

In line with the appropriate BJCP requirements, Corona Extra is a premium American lager. This might be surprising, considering Corona Extra is exclusively brewed in Mexico.

Why Is Corona Extra A Premium American Lager?

There are five primary factors the Beer Judge Certification Program considers to sub-classify beers. They include bitterness (measured in IBU), color intensity (measured in SRM), original gravity, final gravity, and alcohol by volume of the beer. Let us examine each of them.

Firstly, the bitterness of the beer. This is quite self-explanatory and is simply how bitter a beer is. The scale for measurements here is the International Bitterness Units (IBU). The more bitter a beer is, the higher its IBU.

Mexican-made Corona Extra has an IBU of 18, with medium hop bitterness. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, premium American lagers have an IBU between 15 and 25. Corona Extra has an IBU within the standard range, so it meets the bitterness requirement to be classified as a premium American lager.

The second requirement is the color intensity of the beer. Again, the name gives away a lot. Color intensity is a measure of the darkness of a beer. It is measured using the Standard Reference Method (SRM), and the darker the beer is, the higher its SRM.

Per the BJCP guidelines, Premium American lagers have an SRM between 2 and 6, with a pale straw to gold color. Since Corona Extra has an SRM of 2.1, it meets the color requirements of premium American lagers.

srm scale of beer
SRM scale

Furthermore, the gravity of the beer is an essential factor in its classification. The two relevant gravities used in sub-classifying beers are original gravity and final gravity, abbreviated as OG and FG, respectively.

Both the OG and FG give brewers an idea of the alcohol content of beer before and after brewing. The original gravity of a beer reflects the sugar content in the wort before fermentation commences. In contrast, the final gravity measures the number of unfermentable sugars present in the beer after fermentation.

Per the Beer Judge Certification Program guidelines, premium American lagers have an original gravity between 1.046 and 1.056. Corona Extra has an estimated OG of around 1.050, which falls well within the standard range.

Further, the program states that premium American lagers have a final gravity between 1.008 and 1.012. The beer in question, Corona Extra, has an estimated FG of 1.010. This is also within the standard FG range. Therefore, Corona Extra meets the gravity requirements of premium American lagers.

Last but not least is the alcohol content of the beer, measured in Alcohol by Volume (ABV). This is a measure of the pure alcohol in beer. According to the BJCP, premium American lagers have an ABV between 4.6% and 6%. In comparison, Corona Extra has an ABV of 4.6%, which just meets the standard alcohol requirements for premium American lagers.

In light of all of these, Corona Extra can be classified as a premium American lager.

Has Corona Extra Always Been A Premium American Lager?

Cervecería Modelo first brewed Corona Extra in 1927 in Mexico City. The company initially brewed the beer to celebrate its 10th anniversary. However, the beer fast became a fan favorite in the region and eventually became a regular offering of the company.

It was not until five decades later that the beer entered the United States. And in 1998, it became the top-selling foreign beer in the country.

From the start, Corona Extra has consistently met the requirements of a premium American lager. When it became popular in the United States, there were changes in how people drank Corona Extra. The most notable of these changes, without a doubt, is the use of lime on the beer bottle neck. Why did people do this? No one knows, but we know for sure that it did not affect the classification of the beer as a premium American lager.

Are All Corona Beers Premium American Lagers?

As is the tradition with successful beer brands, Corona Extra has variants. They include:

  • Corona Light: While this is also a lager with many similarities with Corona Extra, it has an ABV of 3.4% and is not a premium American lager.
  • Corona Premier: Also lighter than Corona Extra, this beer has an ABV of 4% and is a light Mexican lager.
  • Corona Familiar: This is a full-flavored Mexican beer and is slightly stronger than Corona Extra, with an ABV of 4.8%. It is very similar to Corona Extra, but many simply refer to it as a Mexican lager.