There’s nothing quite as exciting as getting to know another culture, not just as a tourist but also as a true explorer!
And, well, going out for an evening drink with friends or having a cold beer at a local party is one of the best ways to experience an unknown town or city.
With that in mind, let´s have a look at 15** different ways to say ‘beer’ in Spanish!
**Don´t blame me if you´re feeling a little tipsy by the end, hic!
To say ‘beer’ in any Spanish-speaking country, just say ‘cerveza’ (‘sehr – beh – sah’) and you’ll be good to go!
Fun fact: some scholars think that the word ‘cerveza’ derives from the latin word ‘cervesia’, which in turn derives from Ceres, the goddess of agriculture and fertility (kinda makes sense, huh!).
En un bar
Cliente – ¿Me podría dar una cerveza de barril, por favor?
Mesero – Claro que sí, ¿la quiere oscura o clara?
At a bar
Customer – Can I have a draft beer, please?
Waiter – Sure, do you want ale or lager?
Natalia – Mira: hay un festival de cerveza el próximo domingo. ¿Quieres ir?
Enrique – ¡Vamos! Amo la cerveza artesanal.
Natalia – Look, there’s a beer festival next Sunday. Wanna go?
Enrique – Let’s go! I love craft beer.
2 Chela (Mexico)
This popular Mexican slang term for ‘beer’ has a very interesting story behind it!
‘Chel’ is a Mayan word, and locals from the Yucatan peninsula use it to refer to someone who is blond with blue eyes.
A few decades back, a popular beer company referred to lager as ‘rubia’ (or ‘blond’ in English) in one of its TV campaigns. People from the Yucatan started calling it a ‘chel’, which later evolved into ‘chela’
The term stuck and now it’s used not only in Mexico, but also in other Latin American countries such as Ecuador, Peru, and Guatemala.
It´s also now used to refer to all types of beer, not only lager.
Iñaki – Wey, ¿qué llevo a tu cumple el sábado?
Miguel – No sé…Trae unas chelas, wey, con eso.
Iñaki – What do I bring to your birthday on Saturday, bro?
Miguel – I don’t know … just bring some beers, man.
3 Birra (Latin America)
Curiously enough, ‘birra’ is ‘beer’ in Italian (not Spanish!), but it’s also a very common synonym of ‘cerveza’ in several Latin American countries, such as Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, Uruguay and the northwest of Mexico.
Diles a los pibes que no demoren, ¡que la birra se calienta!
Tell the guys not to take long, the beer’s getting warm!
4 Pola (Colombia)
If you’re visiting Colombia, you may be offered a ‘pola’, which is a very popular way to say ‘beer’ in said country.
It all dates back to 1930 when the beer ‘La Pola’ was first brewed, named after Policarpa Salavatierra, a national heroine during Colombian independence.
It’s fair to say that Policarpa still lives in the hearts (or stomachs!) of her people!
Fernanda – Parce, ¿está triste?
Valentina – Sí, creo que sufro del mal de amores …
Fernanda – Tranquila, vamos por unas polas.
Fernanda – Dude, are you sad?
Valentina – Yeah, I think I’m lovesick …
Fernanda – Relax, let’s go grab some beers.
5 Fría (Puerto Rico)
Most Latin Americans agree that beer is best drank cold …
… and, well, Puerto Ricans agree to such an extent that they simply refer to a beer as a ‘fría’ (or ‘cold’ in English).
Liam – Voy a la cocina. ¿Te traigo algo?
Amaia – Sí, una fría, por favor.
Liam – I’m going to the kitchen. Can I get you anything?
Amaia – Yes, a cold beer, please.
6 Biela (Ecuador)
If you search for the word ‘biela’, you’ll find that it means a “crank” or a “connecting rod” … but Ecuadorians actually say ‘biela’ instead of ‘cerveza’.
It´s said to be short for ‘bien helada’ (or ‘very cold’ in English), in reference to a good ’ol ice-cold beer.
It’s so popular that a local beer company actually started to use ‘biela’ as their brand name!
Luisa – Vamos a tomarnos unas bielas, ¿paso por ti?
Rosa – ¡Sí! Estoy lista en 10 minutos.
Luisa – We’re gonna grab some beers, shall I pick you up?
Rosa – Yeah! I’ll be ready in 10 minutes.
7 Elodia / Helodia (Mexico)
Similarly, in Mexico we have an ‘elodia’ (sometimes written with an ‘h’: ‘helodia’), which is also a derivative of ‘bien helada’.
Héctor – ¿Cómo quieres festejar tu cumpleaños?
Miriam – Se me antoja ir por unas elodias con toda la banda. ¿Cómo ves?
Hector – How do you wanna celebrate your birthday?
Miriam – I feel like going out for some beers with the whole gang. What do you reckon?
8 Cerbatana (Mexico)
A ‘cerbatana’ is officially a ‘blowgun’, but in Mexico and Peru it’s also slang for ‘beer’ (you may notice that it shares the first syllable with ‘cerveza’), which, to be honest, is far more innocuous than a blowgun (at least when drunk in moderation!).
¡Yo invito la siguiente ronda de cerbatanas!
The next round of beer is on me!
9 Pinta (Panama)
If you wanna grab a ‘pint of beer’ in Panama, you can ask for a ‘pinta’ (even if the beer itself isn´t in an actual pint glass).
You may also hear people use the word ‘pintar’ (or ‘to paint’ in English) as a made-up verb meaning ‘to drink’ (beer).
Isabella – ¿Me recomiendas algún lugar para tomar una buena pinta?
Olivia – ¡Claro! Te voy a llevar a mi bar favorito.
Isabella – Can you recommend somewhere with good beer?
Olivia – Sure! I’m going to take you to my favorite bar.
10 Caña (Spain)
A similar occurrence takes place in Spain, where a ‘caña de cerveza’ or a ‘glass of beer’ has been shortened simply to a ‘caña’.
Don’t be surprised if you hear Spanish people referring to beers as ‘cañas’!
Antonio – ¡Cada día están más caras las cañas!
Carmen – Calma, que yo conozco un lugar donde se bebe bien por pocos euros.
Antonio – Beer is getting more expensive by the day!
Carmen – Chill, I know a place where you can drink a lot for a few euros.
11 Pescuezuda (Ecuador)
Speaking of types of glasses, if you’re in Ecuador and fancy a beer in a large pilsner glass, you can ask for a ‘pescuezuda’!
The word ‘pescuezuda’ (and its masculine form ‘pescuezudo’) refers to ‘someone with a long neck’ … so there’s a funny mental image for you!
Ángel – ¿Quieres pedir una biela?
Jessica – Sí, yo creo que pediré una pescuezuda …
Ángel – Do you wanna order a beer?
Jessica – Yeah, I think I’ll have a pilsner …
12 Caguama / Cahuama (Mexico)
A ‘caguama’ (also written as ‘cahuama’) is actually a sea turtle in Spanish – specifically a loggerhead –, but during the sixties a Mexican beer company started selling big bottles of beer (similar to a “forty” bottle) and called them ‘caguamas’.
Nowadays, any beer in a big sized bottle is called a ‘caguama’ in Mexico, regardless of its brand.
Uriel – ¿Qué onda, entonces traigo un six para ver el partido?
Mihael – Pos*, mejor compra unas caguamas.
Uriel – So, shall I bring a six-pack for the game?
Mihael – Hmm, maybe buy a few forties instead.
*Erika´s top tip – ‘pos’ is an alternative (and very informal) form of ‘pues’ … you´ll hear it a lot in Mexico, so be sure to check out our article on its various uses!
13 Bien muerta (Mexico)
So, is it clear by now that Latin Americans prefer their beer cold?
Cristal clear, you say?
Well, in Mexico asking for a ‘fría’ (or ‘cold’ in English) isn´t enough …
… sometimes you´ll hear people order a ‘bien muerta’, which roughly translates to ‘good as dead’ in English, but it’s actually slang for an ice-cold beer.
Nina – ¡Qué calor! El sol está terrible …
Matías – ¿Sabes qué se antoja con este calor? Unas bien muertas. ¿Jalas?
Nina – It’s so hot! The sun is scorching …
Matías – Do you know what would be great for this heat? A few ice-cold beers. Fancy it?
15 Michelada (Mexico)
If you visit Mexico, you’ll soon find out that many places offer ‘micheladas’.
A ‘michelada’ is basically just a way of preparing beer: salt, lemon, and in some cases, spicy sauces are added.
Legend has it that the ‘michelada’ was born in the seventies in the city of San Luis Potosí.
Apparently Michel Ésper (hence the name ‘michel’ + ‘ada’), a member of the Potosino Sports Club, used to ask for his beer with lemon, salt and lots of ice.
People started imitating him and the rest is history! Now, each state, city and even restaurant has its own way of preparing this drink, even adding gummy bears and sweets, as is the case with the ‘gomichela’.
En un bar en la Ciudad de México
Mesero – ¿Van a querer su cerveza preparada?
Comensal 1 – No, gracias; una cerveza normal.
Comensal 2 – Yo sí. Quiero una michelada, por favor.
In a bar in Mexico City
Waiter – Do you want to add stuff to your beer?
Diner 1 – No, thank you, just a normal beer.
Diner 2 – I do. I want a michelada, please.
As you can see, there are MANY different ways to say ‘beer’ in Spanish depending on the country you’re in!
Hopefully you now have all the tools necessary to order this tasty beverage just the way you like it, no matter what part of the Spanish-speaking world you visit.
Oh, and if you fancy accompanying your ‘bien muerta’ with a big, juicy steak, then definitely check out our article on all things ‘steak’ in Spanish!
Just remember to drink in moderation 😉