A horrible-tasting Mexican beer is so popular there's now a shortage in America

There Could Be a Corona Beer Shortage
There Could Be a Corona Beer Shortage

Corona, the fifth best selling beer in America despite horrible taste ratings, is facing a shortage.

The company told The Wall Street Journal it is spending $1.5 billion to expand its main brewery on the Mexican border. It's also trying to open a new plant in California, with the goal of doubling its output by 2018.

"We're doubling capacity and brewing at the same time," an executive from parent company Constellation told WSJ. "There's nothing like it in the brewery world."

Corona is the fifth-best-selling beer in the US.

But many industry insiders are scratching their heads at the company's success.

Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a recent note that they were "surprised by the momentum occurring at Corona."

Parent company Constellation reports that sales are up 16%, and Wall Street says brand perception is improving.

The company plans to release cans, a move Morgan Stanley says will drive sales even higher.

Its market share is "growing while the rest of the beer business is drying up or being siphoned off by new small-batch brewers," Kyle Stock at Bloomberg Businessweek reported last year.

The beer's popularity is perplexing because critics agree that Corona tastes terrible, Stock wrote.

"After 3,200 reviews at RateBeer.com, Corona has a grade of 1.69 out of 10," according to Businessweek. "The Beer Advocate gives Corona an 'awful' rating of 55 out of 100 and the following description: 'faded aromas of sulfur, faint skunk, mild cooked veggies.'"

Corona's success is also puzzling because traditional beer brands like Budweiser are facing declining sales.

So how has Corona managed to become so popular?

It's all in the marketing, according to Stock.

Constellation began marketing the beer very aggressively in recent years. The company specifically aims to get people to buy the beach-friendly beer in the winter months.

To accomplish this goal, Constellation has rolled out several ad campaigns. One featured former NFL coach Jon Gruden, while another suggested Corona as the perfect beer to accompany Thanksgiving turkey.

But it's not difficult to sell consumers on Corona's image.

"The formula is simple: sand, sun, and lime wedges," Stock writes.

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