modelo negra on table

When it comes to imported beers in the United States, Grupo Modelo is king. It seems everything they touch turns to gold, and Modelo Negra is a perfect example. Dark gold in this case, of course! There are many things even the most hardcore fans don’t know about the beer, and perhaps at the top of the list is the kind of beer Modelo Negra is. Here’s a quick answer to that.

Modelo Negra is best categorized as a Munich Dunkel because of its medium bitterness (IBU of 19), moderate carbonation levels, deep copper to dark brown color (SRM of 21), the alcohol content of 5.4%, the use of corn in the brewing process as an adjunct, and being bottom-fermented rather than top-fermented.

That’s a simple answer to the topic question. However, it doesn’t tell the whole story. This article will consider why Modelo Negra is broadly classed as a lager and, more specifically, classified as a Munich Dunkel. Also, we will dive a bit into the history of the beer, ascertaining whether it has always been a Munich Dunkel.

Read on!

If you write about a beer, you have to taste it, right?

Is Modelo Negra A Lager Or Ale?

Fully classifying a beer is never easy, as it involves different factors and properties. Nevertheless, all beers belong to two foundational groups: ales or lagers. The distinction between the two is based on the type of fermentation mode manufacturers employ when brewing.

The two primary fermentation techniques are top fermentation and bottom fermentation. The former involves the use of top-fermenting yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae at warm temperatures (60˚–70˚F). Contrastingly, the latter uses bottom-fermenting yeast, Saccharomyces pastorianus, at cold temperatures (35˚–50˚F).

A beer that is brewed using the top-fermentation method is an ale, while one brewed using bottom-fermentation is a lager. It’s that simple.

Considering Modelo Negra is brewed using the bottom-fermentation technique, it is a lager.

What Kind Of Lager Is Modelo Negra?

The classification of Mexican-made Modelo Negra as a lager is not enough to fully classify the beer. There are several sub-classes of lagers, and it is imperative to find the one that best describes Modelo Negra. To do this, we will rely on the standards of one of the top beer certification organizations – the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

Following the BJCP guidelines, Modelo Negra is best classified as a Munich Dunkel. If you are curious about the guidelines responsible for Modelo Negra fitting into this classification, keep reading!

Why Is Modelo Negra A Munich Dunkel?

Various factors determine the sub-classification of a beer. Different organizations have different guidelines, but the Beer Judge Certification Program uses bitterness (measured in IBU), color intensity (measured in SRM), original gravity, final gravity, and alcohol content (measured in alcohol by volume). Let’s look into each of these factors.

The first factor we will consider is the bitterness of a beer, which is how bitter a beer is. The measurement system used here is the International Bitterness Units (IBU), which increases as the beer’s bitterness increases.

Modelo Negra has an IBU of 19. Per the BJCP guidelines, Munich Dunkel beers have an IBU between 18 and 28. Therefore, Modelo Negra meets the bitterness criterion for classification as a Munich Dunkel.

Next is a measurement of the darkness of beer, referred to as color intensity here. The measurement scale for this is the Standard Reference Method (SRM), and the darker the beer, the higher its SRM.

According to the standard guidelines, the SRM for Munich Dunkel beers should be between 17 and 28. The estimated SRM for Modelo Negra is 21, comfortably within the acceptable range. As a result, the beer meets the requirements to be categorized as a Munich Dunkel beer.

The third and fourth factors on the list are the original gravity (OG) and final gravity (FG) of beer. Brewers often estimate the alcohol content of a beer before and after fermentation using both these gravities.

A beer’s OG measures the sugar content in the beer wort before alcoholic fermentation. In contrast, the FG measures the unfermentable sugars in the beer after alcoholic fermentation.

The Beer Judge Certification Program states that Munich Dunkel beers should have an original gravity of 1.048 to 1.056. Modelo Negra’s OG is estimated at 1.046; therefore, it meets this specific OG criterion.

Moreover, the BJCP allows for a final gravity between 1.010 and 1.016 for Munich Dunkel beers. Modelo Negra has an FG of 1.012, placing it within the acceptable range.

Therefore, this beer meets the BJCP gravity requirements for Munich Dunkel beers.

Lastly, the alcohol content of the beer. This is measured in alcohol by volume (ABV) and is how much pure alcohol is actually in beer. It is the most straightforward to ascertain all the factors on here.

According to the BJCP, Munich Dunkel beers have an ABV between 4.5 and 5.6%. Modelo Negra has an ABV of 5.4%, which is within the specified range. As such, the beer meets the alcohol content requirements of Munich Dunkel beers.

Clearly, Modelo Negra’s properties are consistent with the BJCP standard guidelines for Munich Dunkel beers, which is why Modelo Negra is classified as one. Note that it is also permissible to classify the beer as a Vienna-style lager. This is due to the striking similarities between Munich Dunkel and Vienna lagers. In fact, many use the terms interchangeably.

Has Modelo Negra Always Been A Munich Dunkel?

This beer was introduced in 1925, the same year Modelo Especial hit the market. Although Modelo Negra’s first brewing location was Tacuba, Mexico, it was brewed by Austrian immigrants. Then, the beer was brewed as a Munich Dunkel, which is more or less a Vienna-style lager.

Despite the beer making waves in Mexico for years, it was not until the 1980s that it entered the American market. Many view it as a suitable alternative to the light beer offerings in the country.

Modelo Negra is one of the few Munich Dunkel beers available today, as Oktoberfest replaced most of the other beers of this style. The naming has also not changed, with Modelo meaning model and Negra meaning dark. In Mexico, many refer to the beer as Cerveza Modelo Negra, with Cerveza translating to beer.