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We Don't Need No Stinking Limes

by: BeerAdvocate on 06-20-2001
Even back in the mid to late 1980's, when yuppies were riding on the Republican régime and all of that big business money was being thrown around, beer drinkers seemed to always go with the tackiest of drinking trends. One of them was to stick a lime wedge in you beer (akin to sticking a lemon in a Hefeweizen). Well that same trend is making a huge come back, whether you like it or not. Is it that people like the taste of lime juice or they need something to mask the taste of Mexican beer?

Despite the shared flow of thought from the mainstream, there is much more to Mexican beer than Corona. Many of the beers from south of the border have strong ties to their European counterparts, such as: Vienna Lagers, Export Lagers and Pilsners. A portion of this influence can be attributed to the four year stint of Austrian rule over Mexico, Swiss brewers that had immigrated and the global palate shift to lager beers in the late 1800's. To add, the region has also put it's own unique twist on the styles over the years. The majority of Mexican beers are simply "light" (in colour, flavour, malt sweetness and hops), more or less palatable and ideal for the hot climate from which they hail.

Most Mexican beers are produced by two beer giants, FEMSA and Grupo Modelo. FEMSA is this massive beverage conglomerate with a brewing history dating back to 1890 at the brewery Cervecería Cuauhtémoc in Monterrey. They dominate the manufacturing of beer in Mexico with brands like Tecate, Sol, Dos Equis, Carta Blanca, Superior, Indio and Bohemia. Grupo Modelo is also a big player, albeit with less brands, who claims to have control of over 80 percent of the total Mexican beer export market with brands like Corona, Negra Modelo, Modelo Especial and Pacifico.

Lime or No lime?
So which beers require a lime to mask their sheer awfulness and which can stand on their own?

Corona Extra : The #1 import in the US today, it beat out Heineken and is still going strong with a seemingly bottomless bottle of marketing juice. This is one brew that really does need a lime, the clear glass bottles are perfect for that sun to shine into the beer are add that lovely skunked-like aroma.

Corona Light : Just like Corona with a lighter thinner body and more astringency - you might have to quell this with two limes instead of one.

Dos Equis : Easy drinking lager with some traditional European lager traits, certainly better than Corona. No lime required.

Dos Equis Amber : Brewed in the Vienna Lager style, one of the better Mexican beers imported into the States. No lime required.

Carta Blanca : Referred by most drinkers as being utter swill, an extremely light and non-descript brew. Add many limes.

Negra Modelo : A darker brew, reddish brown, compared to most other beers south of the border. Sweet toffee, light buttery character and a lingering bitter finish from the roasted malts make for a most excellent brew. No lime required.

Pacifico Clara : A pale gold, full-flavored lager and one of the top selling beers in Mexico, made popular in 1985 by its demand by surfers and sport fishermen who had visited Mexico's West Coast. Now its popularity is growing throughout the US, rapidly. Add a lime.

Tectate : A run of the mill lager. Rather bland. Also comes in a popular cheap canned beer form - the #1 imported canned beer in the US today. The Busch beer of Mexico. Add two or three limes.

Sol : A Corona clone. Very comparable, but without the nasty skunked aroma of Corona. Has a smoother mouthfeel but perhaps a bit blander. Add a lime.

Bohemia Beer : Brewed since 1900, Bohemia is a full flavored, European style pilsner named in honor of the famous hop growing and beer brewing region of the Czech Republic. No lime required.

Cinco De Mayo?
There are certain holidays to celebrate, then there are the ones that give you an excuse to go out and get shit faced. St. Patty's Day is an official Bostonian drinking day, we all know that. But what the hell is up with Cinco De Mayo? Most of you Corona swillers think it is the equivalent of 4th Of July for Mexico. Wrong. Mexico's day of independence is in fact on September 16th (established back in 1810) and the celebration starts on the eve of that day. As for Cinco De Mayo, the 5th of May is the celebration of when the Mexicans beat the snot out of the French at the "Battle of Puebla." So if you are not Mexican then why the hell are you celebrating this holiday? Will it become the same as St. Patty's Day, where it doesn't matter who you are because everyone is Irish for the day? On May 5th is everyone in Boston going to be Mexican for the day?

Now Boston has been sucked into this holiday with a huge promotional blanket from the beer and liquor industries. You can bet your lime wedge that they are creating this Americanized holiday just like Hallmark has with so many others. It seems like Corona is trying to make this an official day in Boston by sending out as many beer whores as they can and by sponsoring as many events as they can. Cinco De Mayo is almost as well established in Boston as its celebration of Mardi Gras is (also a joke), and that makes us want to bust some damn piñata-ass!

Hey, regardless of lime or forced celebration, you sometimes can't beat the flavour and feeling of a Mexican beer on a hot summer day or while enjoying your favourite Mexican cuisine.
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