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What do they drink for beer in Mexicali?

When I got back to work Monday morning after the weekend road trip to Mexicali, one of my colleagues almost immediately asked, what do they drink for beer down there? What an excellent question!

The short answer is not a surprising one: Tecate. Mexicali is one of the most populous cities in the Mexican state of Baja California, and Tecate is one of the biggest brewers in that state. While the restaurants and bars we visited also had Bud Light available, I suspect it was only there for the occasional Anglo guests like us. I didn’t see anyone drinking any beer other than Tecate and Tecate Light.

Tecate is familiar enough to those of us living in the Phoenix area. Even if the local bar-and-grill doesn’t carry it, the local grocery store certainly does. I remember someone once commenting on a beer website that Tecate is a “fill the cooler” beer. The commenter was attempting to be disparaging, I think. However, it is in fact the beer Kathryn and I buy to fill the cooler when we go camping, if only because it’s a beer we have no trouble agreeing on.

In the case of our recent road trip, though, I think a more interesting observation is not which beer the locals were drinking, but how they were drinking it. When I watched families dining together, the adults were ordering communal quart bottles of Tecate and pouring the beer into small glasses, much like one might do with a pitcher of beer. When one bottle was empty, they’d order another. It looked like a rather sociable way of enjoying beer among family and friends — assuming everyone can agree on the same beer.

When I got home, I started to wonder if I could find those quart bottles of Tecate in Phoenix. I didn’t have to look too far. Although my usual supermarket doesn’t carry them, I found them at a Hispanic supermarket where I sometimes shop.

I bought several, not because I’m sharing with a bunch of family members — although Kathryn has been helping me drink them — but because I have two Oktoberfest-style glass beer steins that need to be put to good use.

Curt Gilman
Curt Gilman