Medalla Light, a taste of Puerto Rico in Massachusetts

Hugo Balta

One of the ways people across the country are dealing with anxiety under COVID-19 social distancing, stay-at-home orders is to crack a cold one at the end of the day.

The number of people buying alcohol to take home rose 27% earlier this year, according to Nielsen.

After a successful launch into the Connecticut market last year, Puerto Rico’s favorite beer, Medalla Light is now tapping into the demand of thirsty beer drinkers in Massachusetts.

“Medalla Light’s expansion is a testament to the loyalty of our large fan base across the U.S,” said Jorge Bracero, CMO of Cervecera de Puerto Rico. “We’re excited to continue expanding the distribution of Medalla Light beer for beer lovers abroad.”

Massachusetts is the eighth state in the U.S. mainland to welcome the Puerto Rican beer.

Last year, Hartford Distributors focused their sales in Central Connecticut where the company anticipated that there would be a strong market. Very quickly, this expectation was more than fulfilled. As soon as the beer “came in it went out,” said Juan Rivera, sales supervisor for Hartford Distributors.

Rivera said it took a year of meetings in Puerto Rico to arrange to get Medalla Light. “We are the first state in the Northeast to have this beer,” Rivera said. Until now, you could only get it in Puerto Rico and Florida, the sales executive said in an interview with CTLN.

Quality Beverage and Horizon Beverage are in charge of distributing the product in the Bay State.

“We are thrilled to team up with Cervecera de Puerto Rico who shares our commitment to providing the highest level of service and quality to our consumers,” said Anthony Frasco, General Manager and VP at Quality Beverage in Chicopee to “Partnering with them allows us to fulfill the demand of the popular beer in the Massachusetts market that we service. When you have a brand that ignites the consumer and can bring nostalgic memories, having consumers feel like they were back on a tropical island like Puerto Rico the way Medalla Light does, you know it’ll only be a matter of time before they become a national player in the industry.”

Massachusetts’ 330,000 Puerto Rican community was a ripe market for Medalla Light. Many people were already familiar with the beer from living in Puerto Rico. Others had heard about the pale lager from their father or grandfather who drank the beer when they lived on the island.

Compania Cervecera de Puerto Rico introduced Medalla Light in the 1970s to meet the rising demand for lighter beers. The company, which was launched in 1937 by the three Valdéz Cobián brothers in Mayaqüez, also produces several other beers and soft drinks such as Malta India, but the light beer quickly became its main product and today even has its own website

“Just drinking Medalla and listening to the little music and eating the pernil and the rice and beans and you know, it’s just this brings families back together, ” said William Quiros, a sales rep for Hartford Distributors to WBUR. Sales doubled what the company anticipated in Connecticut.