Sol, also known as Sol Cerveza, is a Mexican-produced Lager that was created in 1899 in the city of Orizaba, Mexico, who were still celebrating their new independence as a country. When Napoleon III of France tried to invade Mexico in 1861 after wanting to take advantage and conquer the developing country, there was an influx of people coming over from Europe. And with them they brought over their recipes for their own style of beer they produced, which was Lager. Lager is defined as being fermented in low temperatures from the bottom up.
Origin / Backstory
Sol was created in 1899 in the city of Orizaba, which is outside of Mexico City, in a small brewery called ‘El Salto Del Agua’ (The Waterfall). Orizaba is said to be the closest city to the highest point in Mexico, therefore the closest city in Mexico to the sun. The beer was made by a German brew master who used his knowledge of Lager recipes along with experimenting of different ingredients, to create what he called ‘El Sol’. He named it ‘El Sol’ (The sun) after a ray of sunlight shone through cracks in the brewery’s roof causing his freshly produced bottles to be illuminated by the sunlight. It was in the early 1900’s the brand decided to drop the ‘El’ in ‘El Sol’ and change it to ‘Sol’ like we see today. The brand also claimed they used only the closest waters to the sun to produce their beer, which added to the soon growing popularity of the beer. The sun was an influence on not only the name, but the way they marketed it as well. It soon on became a hit with the working-class people of the city who enjoyed having a cold beer or two after a hard day’s work. Later, towards the late 1980’s to early 1990’s the brand realized how popular the beer was with younger people and decided to relaunch and remarket their brand to include that age group and market. The main ingredients of Sol include water, malted barley, glucose syrup, and hop extract. The beer has a ABV (Alcohol by Volume) of 4.2 %, giving it a crisp light taste. Sol today has started being brewed and produced by solar energy, making use of the sun and using a renewable energy source instead of a non-renewable one. It is also said that the brand has been using special light resistant hops as ingredients, to protect and preserve the identifiable great flavour/taste. Sol is best served cold with a lime wedge in it and is perfect for a hot summer day.
- Mexico’s Independence
The key milestone that got the ball rolling on production of beer such as Sol in Mexico, was Mexico gaining their independence as a country. They wanted to split from Spain and be on their own, so they decided to go to war with the Spanish Empire in order to do this. After 11 years of war and bloodshed, Mexico was finally able to gain their independence and separate from Spain. And with this allowed for them to have more freedom in what they were doing, such as beer brewing. With the influx of European brewers coming to Mexico, along with local brewers, the people of Mexico were able to brew freely without worry. It also gave people the ability to try to brew beer, who had no prior experience.
- Sol becomes a part of Heineken
Another milestone for the brand was when it became a part of another major beer brand, Heineken. Although it was said to be partnered with Heineken since about 2004, Sol didn’t become a part of Heineken’s global group of products until 2010, when Heineken purchased the Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma brewery where Sol is made in 2010. It is not said specifically why Heineken purchased Sol, but it is most likely to add to their wide portfolio of beers owned. And although Sol is now a part of Heineken, the beer is still mainly made and produced in Mexico to stay true to its roots.
- Sol now brewed using solar energy
Heineken announced in 2020 that all beer being made in the Zoeterwoude brewery in the Netherlands would be produced by solar energy. There were 9212 solar panels installed at the brewery in order to use a renewable source of energy, rather than wasting resources. The brand is claiming it is a new way for consumers to ‘taste the sun’ which is one of their slogans.
Brewing Science and Industrialisation
There is not much information on the brewing science and industrialisation of Sol, but Mexico’s beer brewing industry as a whole had gone through a decent amount of advancements. Mexico had no official or traditional style of brewing until immigrants coming from Europe had brought their own traditional forms of brewing from back home. Most of these immigrants spoke German and came from Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. They brought recipes of their favourite beers which were forms of pale lagers, Vienna lagers and Bohemian pilsners. Which all became popular with local people as well. One of the biggest problems brewers faced was transportation of product. With limited transportation it forced brewers to produce beer for a specific and limited area. But once the construction of the major railways was complete in the mid to late 19th century, it allowed for brewers to be able to ship their beer further, faster and more efficiently. Other industrial and technological improvements such as the ice box for example, allowed for the beer to be refrigerated and enjoyed cold. The refrigeration of beer in Mexico was important as it is warm down there all year around, and very hot in the summer. Refrigeration prevented the beer from going bad faster, which meant they could keep it and store it longer or ship it even further than before.
Although some people argue Sol is a Pale Lager or Pilsner, it is strictly a Lager. Lagers are bottom fermenting beers which means the yeast used to ferment the beer sits at the bottom, unlike ales where the yeast sits at the top. These beers are produced and stored in much colder temperatures than ales. They are made with malt, barley, water, hops, and a specific yeast called Saccharomyce Pastorianus which works at a much slower rates with cooler temperatures. This results in a lighter and more crisp beer. Lager originated and was first produced in Northern Europe in the 1500s-1600s, and became popular with the rest of the world after people of Northern Europe had immigrated to other countries, taking their Lager recipes with them. The appearance of Lager can vary as they come in pale, amber, and dark colours. But they all have the same thing in common, they should be served and enjoyed cold.
WWI / WWII Era
Sol was not impacted and did not go through any changes or events during the time of the world wars, but Mexico as a whole did. Mexico was neutral during the first world war and was dealing with a revolution involving different areas within their own country. This did not impact the beer brewing industry there, as everything was still being produced the same way. In the second world war Mexico joined the fight with the allies and participated in the war, after Germany attacked some of their tankers. Mexico’s main and major contribution to the war was supplying a steady and large amount of materials used to make products needed for the people in the U.S and the soldiers overseas. During this time they also had to go through rationing and substituting of food and materials, which resulted in them producing lighter and lesser beers, just like the U.S and Canada were doing at the time. Overall, Mexico faced many of the same challenges as the U.S and Canada did within their country during this time, like examples such as rationing, substituting and taxing.
Sol was apart of a small independent brewery called “El Salto Del Agua” (The Waterfall) and was produced and distributed there until 1912 when it was purchased by Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma. Ceveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma was founded in 1890 and had already owned breweries across Mexico for a number of different beers. This allowed Sol to expand greatly and sell beer all across Mexico. It has been said that Sol has been apart of Heineken since 2004, but it wasn’t until 2010 that Heineken purchased Cerveceria Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma, which included all their brands of beers, for $7.6 Billion. That is when Sol joined Heineken’s global group of products. Now, the brand is still owned by Heineken and is being sold globally, with the majority of Sol still being produced in Mexico.
Marketing and Branding
Since first being made, Sol has thought of drinking their beer as an opportunity to “taste the sun”. So in 2018, they ran with it and introduced the ‘Taste The Sun’ campaign in attempt to re-establish what the beer means, and to connect with more “sun-seeking” consumers. The brand refocused on trying to be the top sunshine beer on the market, beating competitors like Corona, Modelo, etc. Sunshine beers is a nickname for beers that are produced in warm countries, are easy drinking with a light to mid ABV, and come in a transparent bottle. This campaign is also a acknowledgement of the history of the brand and the name, all which stemmed from the sun. They wanted to provide consumers with a little more of a backstory of the beer. The main target audience for this campaign were casual and social beer drinkers of all age groups. Before the ‘Taste The Sun’ campaign, it seems Sol didn’t focus as much on their marketing strategies as there was little advertising or campaigns happening back then.
Sol has some forms of contemporary trends associated with the brand, and one of them is Neolocalism. Heineken, who owns Sol, kept the majority of production of Sol in Mexico to stay true to it’s Mexican roots. In addition, this helps the local people and communities by giving them more opportunities for employment and the ability to expand. Sol also has a form of technology and innovation associated with the brand. In 2020, Heineken announced that all Sol beer being produced in the Netherlands would be produced using renewable energy from solar power. This is all apart of the brand trying to reduce their carbon footprint, which they are continuing to do. All Sol beer produced by solar power will have a new tagline on the packaging stating it was ‘Brewed With Solar Energy’. There are not many contemporary trends associated with Sol, as it’s not an independent brand anymore, and is owned by Heineken that has many different contemporary trends of their own.
- Sol.com | Welcome. (n.d.). Sol. Retrieved January 29, 2021, from https://www.sol.com/ca/en/our-story
- Mexperience. (2017, February 28). Mexican Beers | Mexperience. Mexperience | Experience More of Mexico. https://www.mexperience.com/mexican-bar/mexican-beers/
- Finney, T. (2018, November 5). Sol Beer Launches New Brand Positioning With “Taste The Sun” Campaign. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/teresafinney/2018/11/05/sol-beer-launches-new-brand-positioning-with-taste-the-sun-campaign/?sh=499975c15fd0
- Press Release. (2020, November 10). Heineken Announces Sol Now Brewed Using Solar Energy. Brewbound. https://www.brewbound.com/news/heineken-announces-sol-now-brewed-using-solar-energy/
- beveragedaily.com. (2017, June 7). Molson Coors inks deal with Heineken to distribute Mexico-made Sol beer in US. https://www.beveragedaily.com/Article/2017/06/07/Molson-Coors-inks-deal-with-Heineken-to-sell-Mexico-s-Sol-beer-in-US
- Drinker, B. (2019, November 29). Sol Cerveza – Beer drinker. Medium. https://thisdrinkinlife.medium.com/sol-cerveza-10d2efc77d1a
- Taste The Sun. (n.d.). Youtube. Retrieved January 30, 2021, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Et6fWlv2mdc&feature=youtu.be28906.png
- Reviews, B. M. (2018, September 17). Sol Cerveza 3 Minute Beer Review. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kIafRNwTemA&feature=youtu.be
- Grimm, L. (2018, August 9). Beer History South of the Border. Serious Eats. https://drinks.seriouseats.com/2012/02/mexican-beer-history-victoria-bohemia-modelo-corona-brands.html
- Burton, T. (2013, November 13). The emergence of two major beer-makers in Mexico | Geo-Mexico, the geography of Mexico. Geo-Mexico, the Geography of Mexico | the Geography and Dynamics of Modern Mexico. https://geo-mexico.com/?p=1854
- Mexico – World War II, 1941–45. (n.d.). Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved March 9, 2021, from https://www.britannica.com/place/Mexico/World-War-II-1941-45
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021b, March 26). Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma Brewery. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuauht%C3%A9moc_Moctezuma_Brewery
- Molson Coors Inks Deal With Heineken to Import Mexican Beer. (2017, June 6). Fortune. https://fortune.com/2017/06/06/molson-coors-mexican-beer-heineken-sol/
- HEINEKEN and Molson Coors Sign Import Agreement for Sol Beer in the US. (n.d.). MolsonCoors. Retrieved April 11, 2021, from https://ir.molsoncoors.com/news/press-release-details/2017/HEINEKEN-and-Molson-Coors-Sign-Import-Agreement-for-Sol-Beer-in-the-US/default.aspx
- Mexico,. (n.d.). Craft Beer & Brewing. Retrieved April 11, 2021, from https://beerandbrewing.com/dictionary/isX2zyaFJ9/
- Heineken Buying Dos Equis, Tecate, And Sol For $7.6 Billion. (2010, January 11). Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/heineken-to-buy-mexicos-femsa-for-55b-in-shares-2010-1?international=true&r=US&IR=T
- McCarthy, J. (2018, November 1). Why Sol is dialing up the sun in global campaign for casual beer drinkers. The Drum. https://www.thedrum.com/news/2018/11/01/why-sol-dialing-up-the-sun-global-campaign-casual-beer-drinkers
- Sol Beer. (2018, November 1). Sol Beer | Facebook Timeline Hack. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4q4ZU5PEVM&t=9s
- Sol Beer. (2018a, November 1). Sol Beer | Brightness Hack (iPhone). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXFpwol7W5s&t=13s
- Gwynn, S. (2019, March 25). Sol aims for more focused marketing in new campaign celebrating the sun. CampaignLive. https://www.campaignlive.co.uk/article/sol-aims-focused-marketing-new-campaign-celebrating-sun/1497719
- Sol is now brewed using solar energy – Drinks Retailing News – The Voice of Drinks Retailing. (n.d.). Drinksretailingnews. Retrieved April 11, 2021, from https://drinksretailingnews.co.uk/news/fullstory.php/aid/20107/Sol_is_now_brewed_using_solar_energy_.html#:%7E:text=Sol%20has%20announced%20that%20it,renewable%20energy%20from%20solar%20power.
- Wikipedia contributors. (2021, February 19). Mexico in World War I. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mexico_in_World_War_I#:%7E:text=Mexico%20was%20a%20neutral%20country,the%20presidency%20earlier%20that%20year.
- Moorhead, J. (2020, August 7). A Brief History of Mexican Lager. American Homebrewers Association. https://www.homebrewersassociation.org/news/brief-history-mexican-lager/