Constellation Brands Bad Beer Saga Continues As Company Allegedly Halts Production Of Most Mexican Beers Following Contamination Issues

August 14, 2023

This past June, International beer, wine and spirits producer, Constellation Brands - which controls leading Mexican beer brands Corona, Pacifico, and Modelo - stopped distribution and recalled beer kegs in San Diego and beyond due to contamination issues. We have now received word that the beverage behemoth has ceased production of most of its Mexico beer brand kegs.

An email sent in late June by Constellation Brands announced that the company would be halting shipment of all beer kegs due to a potential contamination issue impacting various beers. The company claimed there is no health or safety risk associated with the sudden halt, rather it merely due to their "rigorous quality standards". 

Back in June, we received word that unusually brown and "sewage tasting" Pacifico was coming out of taps at downtown San Diego's Petco Park. We have since received word that the quality issues and recalls affected many Constellations Brands Mexican beer kegs nationwide. Constellation Brands brews its Mexican beers in at least two Mexico-based breweries, sited in Obregon and Piedras Negras, and exports it to markets around the world. Rumors of sewage contamination of kegs were circulating, but that information was adamantly dispelled by Constellation Brands. 

"I’ll get back to you shortly but I must underscore immediately that there is absolutely no truth to what you said about pollution with sewage," responded Constellation Brands Beer Division VP of Communications Maggie Bowman in a response to our request for comment.

We have now received word that while most of the equipment issues at the Mexico-based breweries have since been fixed and the company is now producing nothing but Modelo kegs for the next two months. It is believed that no Pacifico kegs will be produced until Modelo supplies are back at capacity. Other Constellation draft products, including Modelo Negra, Corona Extra, and Corona Premier, are not expected to be back in market until next calendar year. The company is prioritizing sponsored venues in each major market as their marketing investments need to be activated with available product, but that will only be Modelo and inventory will vary by overall availability. Word is that favorability will be aimed at the west coast because it accounts for around 50% of the company’s draft beer business.

Constellation Brands is likely focusing on Modelo production over its other Mexican beer brands because earlier this year, Modelo Especial overtook Bud Light as the top-selling beer in the United States. Modelo Especial accounted for 8.4% of retail beer sales in May 2023, according to Nielsen data analyzed by Bump Williams Consulting.

Constellation Brands has more than 100 brands in its portfolio. In the U.S., it controls beer brands like Corona, Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo, and Pacífico. In December 2015, Constellation purchased San Diego's beloved Ballast Point Brewing for a record $1 billion but sold the company to to Chicago-based Kings & Convicts Brewingfor around $41 million in late 2019. There is no word on when Constellation Brands will resume distribution of its Mexican beer kegs.