When it was announced back in early March that Gambrinus had lost an arbitration and more significantly the contract to import Corona — and other Grupo Modelo brands — throughout the Eastern half of the U.S., speculations ran high as to who would be awarded that lucrative contract. Well, the wait is over and as many predicted, it will go to Barton Beers of Chicago. Barton Beers currently imports Corona in the western half of the U.S. so with this move, Grupo Modelo will have one importer for the entire country. In addition to Corona and the other Modelo brands — Modelo Especial, Negra Modelo and Pacifico — Barton also imports St. Pauli Girl and Tsingtao. Barton in turn is owned by Constellation Brands, a giant in the world of liquor and wine.
The Gambrinus contract ends next year, when Barton will take over Corona nationwide on January 2. The new contract with Barton will last for ten years. According to a press release put out by Constellation Brands, the new relationship between the two companies is actually a joint venture.
Corona is, despite its weak flavor and lack of character, the number one selling import beer in America, having eclipsed Heineken for that dubious honor in 1997.