While a margarita is the preferred alcoholic beverage of choice with Tex Mex, sometimes you need something a touch more laid back than a full-blown tequila smoothie. Sometimes, you just need a delicious beer to go with that towering pile of Maudie’s Tex Mex nachos. No matter how much of a beer snob you become in the ever-growing Austin brewing industry, you’ll probably still enjoy a salty delicious Corona with a fresh lime in it. That green little sliver of summer slides through the bottleneck and into the bubbling, frothy liquid and completes the picture of the perfect Tex Mex experience. But where did the tradition of dropping that lime wedge into the perfect Mexican beer get its origins?
Keep Out Bugs
Picture an old western saloon with literal bar flies filling the air and lingering on the glass of patrons’ drinks. After discovering the bug repellent effects of citrus fruits, the bartenders began coating the rims and seasoning the drinks with lime because of the great taste and safety benefits. At least, that’s a theory that historians share. Throughout history, salt and citrus have been used to keep consumable products fresh and bug-free and since beer was first invented to help purify water, it’s no shock that keeping it pure soon became a potential concern. Since lime mixes well with the salty, hoppy taste of Corona, it probably wasn’t a stretch to start deterring bugs there. But did it have other uses that rendered it both a practical and versatile solution? Beer experts think so.
Since you probably drink your Corona straight from the bottle, the drinkers have a high chance of contracting something funky from the questionable bottling procedures. Corona is bottled in Mexico, which is not renowned for its super sanitary living conditions. If you’re afraid of the water when you go down there, you should probably be cautious of anything that comes into contact with that same water, such as the rim of your Corona. Though this theory states that the practice was invented by more modern day bartenders, it could very well hold a spark of truth that the Corona is accompanied by a lime because it’s meant to kill off whatever germs are lurking on the bottle where your mouth is about to go. In fact, the bottle caps were known for many years to leave rusty residue on the mouth of the bottle and the practice of wiping the lime around the rim used to certainly pull the stain away and sterilize the rim effectively.
No Skunked Beer
What is skunked beer? It’s when the beer gets exposed to too much light. You’ll notice that many beers, no matter how light their color, are stored in dark glass that refracts and absorbs most of that harmful light. Why does a liquid have a light sensitivity? Because of its ingredients. One of the key components in beer is the hops. The flower from the Humulus lupulus plant (hops) acts as a flavoring measure in the beer as well as a preservative agent that keeps that taste consistently Corona. However, that preservative property is disabled by too much light exposure, which the Corona bottle leaves the beer extremely exposed because of the light colored glass. The light exposure creates a chemical reaction that then releases a foul, skunk odor from the beer. For this reason, it’s believed that the marketing team started representing people drinking the beer straight from the crystal bottle because the smell would be hard to detect through the skinny opening in the bottle. Paired with a lime, you’d be hard-pressed to pick up on more than the citrus and hoppy scent of the Corona. This marketing strategy goes unnoticed as even un-skunked Corona tastes delicious with lime and the mild Corona taste doesn’t noticeably change after becoming skunked.
While the various scientific theories are fascinating, the whimsical myth is probably the most entertaining reason that the lime is placed in your Corona. The tale states that two bartenders made bets that they could start a trend, the winning bartender started placing limes inside Coronas when serving them. The other myth is that Mexicans consider it a tradition to season your cerveza with a lime, but the beer experts believe it’s merely a tradition that’s been picked up to appease the tourism industry. Fortunately, you don’t have to cross the border to get a Corona with a tasty little lime sliver inside.
Rather than debate the finer points about why you need a lime in your Corona, why don’t you come down and order a Corona with lime? Accompanied by classic crispy tacos (with limes) and delicious tortilla chips dipped in salsa (and drizzled with lime), you’ll be in tiny green fruit heaven. The tart, savory bounty is waiting to complement your authentic Tex Mex meal right here at Maudie’s. The taste of summer is just down the street.