tecate in hand

The history of Mexican beers is never complete without Mexican-made Tecate. It is the first Mexican beer to be canned and has become one of her best beer exports. Tecate’s rich history is not the only admirable thing about the beer, as its brilliant flavor and crisp malt taste are among the best in the industry. While its history speaks for itself, many don’t know what kind of beer is Tecate. Let’s quickly answer that.

Tecate is best classified as an American lager, with this choice informed by its moderate bitterness (IBU of 14), high levels of carbonization, yellow to golden color (SRM of 4), alcohol content of 4.5%, and being bottom-fermented rather than top-fermented.

That’s the simple answer to the question, but it does not tell the whole story. There were many factors considered before Tecate could be placed in this group. In this article, we will examine all of these factors. Also, we will consider if Tecate has always been an American lager and if its other variants also fit this classification bill.

Is Tecate A Lager Or Ale?

Before you can fully classify beer, you must first determine if it is an ale or lager. This distinction will serve as the foundation of all other classifications.

The primary difference between ales and lagers is in the fermentation process. Ales are fermented with top-fermenting yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae at warm temperatures (60˚–70˚F). On the other hand, lagers are fermented with bottom-fermenting yeast Saccharomyces pastorianus at colder temperatures (35˚–50˚F).

Tecate uses the bottom-fermentation technique. Hence, it is regarded as a lager.

What Kind Of Lager Is Tecate?

After the initial classification as a lager, we need to sub-classify Tecate into one of the many lager groups existing today. However, sub-classifying beer is not nearly as straightforward as the classification of a lager. Several considerations determine the eventual sub-classification.

Different beer organizations and certification programs have different specifications for sub-classifying beer. We will be relying on the guidelines of one of the most reputable of these organizations – the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP).

According to the program, Tecate meets the requirements and is classified as an American lager. What then are the requirements justifying this classification? Keep reading!

Why Is Tecate An American Lager?

For the sub-classification of a beer, it has to satisfy certain conditions. According to the Beer Judge Certification Program, these conditions are bitterness (measured in IBU), color intensity (measured in SRM), original gravity, final gravity, and alcohol by volume of the beer. Below, we will consider the requirements of American lagers under these conditions and how Tecate compares.

Let’s start with the bitterness of the beer, which is, as you would guess, how bitter a beer is. The measurement scale for this is the International Bitterness Units (IBU). The higher up the scale, the more bitter a beer is.

According to the BJCP guidelines, American lagers should have an IBU between 8 and 18. For comparison, Tecate has an IBU of 14, which is well within the stated range. As such, it meets the bitterness requirements for American lagers.

Secondly is the color intensity, which measures the darkness of beer. This measurement scale for this factor is the Standard Reference Method (SRM). The higher the SRM of a beer, the darker it is.

Tecate has an SRM of 4, giving it a golden color. Also, this is in line with the BJCP color intensity requirements for American lagers, which are from 2 to 4.

SRM Scale

The following two factors are original gravity and final gravity, OG and FG, respectively. This measures beer’s gravity during the alcoholic fermentation process. Measuring gravity is essential during brewing, as it aids brewers in determining beer’s alcohol content before and after fermentation.

The amount of sugar in the wort before fermentation is reflected in the beer’s original gravity. The final gravity counts the amount of unfermentable sugars left in the beer after fermentation.

The original gravity of American lagers should be between 1.040 and 1.050, according to BJCP guidelines. Also, the final gravity range for American lagers is between 1.004 and 1.010. While the gravity readings of Tecate are not readily available, calculations suggest it falls within the acceptable range.

Therefore, Tecate passes the gravity requirements for American lagers because it meets the final and original gravity standard specifications.

The last factor the BJCP considers is the alcohol content of beer. This is the most direct to determine. As the name implies, the alcohol content is how much alcohol beer has and is represented by alcohol by volume (ABV). The higher the ABV, the more alcoholic and stronger beer is.

Tecate has an ABV of 4.5%. This falls within the standard range the BJCP specifies, which is 4.2% to 5.3%. Again, Tecate meets the alcohol content requirement of American lagers.

Given Tecate complies with all the standard requirements for American lagers, it is regarded as such.

Interested in finding out what we think of this beer? Have a look at our detailed review here.

Has Tecate Always Been An American Lager?

Tecate has always fit the bill to be classified as an American lager. The official birth of Tecate was in 1944 in the city of Tecate, Mexico. Before then, beer was not very popular in Mexico, but Tecate helped kick-start national and industrial interest in Mexican-brewed beers.

This beer has very strong ties to the United States. Tecate borders California, signaling its proximity to the United States. Also, shortly after the beer launched, its demand quickly grew in various states bordering or close to Mexico, including Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and Texas.

Are All Tecate Beers American Lagers?

There is more than just one Tecate beer. The brand’s flagship is Tecate Original, the one we have referenced throughout this article. Below, we will briefly consider if the other beer variants are American lagers.

  • Tecate Light: You will be forgiven for thinking this is the only other variant of Tecate Original, considering it’s the most popular of the three variants. Tecate Light is, of course, a light American lager. The name gives away a lot, doesn’t it?! This beer has an ABV of 3.9% and is very refreshing.
  • Tecate Alta: This beer was inspired by the heights of the sacred mountain of Cuchumá in Baja California. It is similar to the original Tecate beer but significantly lighter, with an ABV of 4%. It is not an American lager.
  • Tecate Michelada: This variant is somewhat special, being a Michelada, which combines several ingredients with beer. It is very flavorful and lighter than Tecate Original. It is also not an American lager.