Precious few stereotypes stick with more tenacity than the ones that deal with food and drink, No matter how inaccurate they may be. So, to clarify: All Jewish meals do not involve matzo balls. Italian food is infinitely more than pasta and gravy. Southern barbecue has absolutely nothing to do with burned skinless chicken breasts smothered with a tooth-yanking layer of sticky, high-fructose corn syrup labeled “BBQ sauce.” Indian food is made with ingredients other than curry. And so on.
And the topic of this column: Not all Mexican beer benefits from a slice of lime.
This is the perfect time of year for a little bit of clarification, since hot summer days are when most of us are likely to pop the crown off the top of a Corona—or, lord help you, a Corona Light. And, yes, a slice of lime is damn close to a necessity if that’s what you’re sipping. But Corona doesn’t need lime because it’s a Mexican beer; it gets one because the bottle is clear.
Long story short, and skipping over all the chemistry involved, beer bottled in clear glass leaves it exposed to the potentially detrimental effects of sunlight, which can “skunk” them, aka make them go bad (real bad). Lime is a great way to cover up those nasty flavors and aromas. (Also, Corona, which tastes like, well, not much, benefits from a lime to provide what connoisseurs, aficionados and cicerones refer to with the technical term “flavor,” as it possesses rather little of it on its own.)
So the next time you order a Mexican beer that’s not bottled in clear glass, and you’re offered a wedge of lime with it, feel free to turn it down, or, at the very least, question it. If the bottle is green or brown, then the addition of citrus is pretty much unnecessary. (Witbiers and the like are a different story entirely.) So here we go: Tecate, Bohemia and Negra Modelo? No lime. Corona, Sol and Modelo Especial? Go for it. Just remember that simply because your beer was brewed in Mexico doesn’t mean it needs the help of a wedge of citrus fruit.
It’s yet another stereotype with no basis in reality.
PW's Year of Beer: Allagash White