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Reflecting on Limes in Beers

Discussion in 'Cozumel' started by El Graduado, Aug 18, 2019.

  1. El Graduado

    El Graduado Manta Ray

    In the 1970s, nobody ever poked a slice of lime down the neck of their beer bottle. Limes were only served with Tecate beer, a beer that only came in a can. Some Mexicans said it was to cover the taste, as Tecate was the cheapest beer in Mexico back then. I suspect it had more to do with Tecate’s ad campaigns which showed a Tecate can with a slice of lime making it seem akin to tequila, but who knows.

    In 1981, Corona Beer made a big push to enter the US market. One of their ad-men decided to showcase the clear-glass bottle of Corona with a lime slice stuck in the mouth of the bottle. Gullible Americans who wanted to look hip asked the bartender for a lime slice for their Corona, so as to not look like they didn’t know how to drink a Corona in they thought was the “accepted, traditional, Mexican way”. One wannabe hipster saw the other wannabe hipster doing this and he followed suit. The fad spread, but only in the US, at least at the beginning.

    In September, 1986, The Chicago Tribune ran an article saying:

    “Let`s set the record straight: lime or lemon goes with Tecate beer. Lime or lemon can go with other canned beers in Mexico. Lime or lemon does not go into long neck bottles of Corona Extra--except in Chicago. About a year ago the herd started cooling tastebuds singed by the fiery food it eats with a beer called Corona. The brew hadn`t been seen on shores of Lake Michigan before and with a stroke of marketing genius, the importer, Barton Brands, chose not to advertise the brand here. Without advertising, Corona took on an aura of mystery. Strategically placed in just the right establishments, the flies-to-honey marketing technique worked. Soon the herd guzzled so much of the stuff that rumors of scarce supply started to circulate. Pretty good considering Corona was introduced to this country only in the summer of 1981. Of course, at the first hint of mass popularity, the herd`s vanguard starts looking for something new. Enter the lime. A quick check with Leo Flores, associate editor of the Mexico City News, confirms this possibility. ‘No Mexican would ever do something like that. It sounds crazy,’ he said. ‘Lime with beer is a sort of trademark of Tecate. That`s how they advertise it here. People clean off the top of the can, rub it with lime or lemon and put salt on it. You can do that with any canned beer. But bottled beer--never!’ Carlos Alvarez, who worked for the Modelo brewery as export director for 10 years and still works with the brewery as a consultant, agrees. ‘In Mexico, Corona is not consumed with lime,’ Alvarez says. ‘Sometimes when people don`t know the product, they see someone else doing it, and they think that`s the way it should be done. It creates a chain reaction.’

    So in Cozumel, when the bartenders had tourists asking them for a lime slice in their beer bottle, who were they to say it was foolish? Give the client what he wants and hope for a tip. With that enabling attitude, the American’s lime-in-a-bottle fad took root in Mexico’s tourist locations like Cozumel. Eventually, a new generation of Mexicans who grew up on Cozumel got used to the sight of seeing tourists poke their slice of lime into the neck of a beer bottle, but you don’t see Mexicans doing it much themselves. They don’t go in much for wearing balloons on their heads, either.
  2. gopbroek

    gopbroek Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Lewisville TX
    We learned this in the USA from drinking Corona. If you are not drinking Mexican Budweiser the lime is kinda silly (kinda like Cinco De Mayo).
  3. ggunn

    ggunn ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Austin, TX, USA
    I like a bit of lime in some beers but ever since I picked up and tried to drink from a beer bottle that someone had put a cigarette butt in, the only thing I put in the bottle is a bit of the juice.
  4. mi000ke

    mi000ke Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Massachusetts & Grand Cayman Island
    As I understand it (and have had the story repeated by several bartenders in the Caribbean - not, Mexico, but...) the lime was placed into the bottle to keep the bugs out. Had nothing to do with the taste of the beer. I hate fruit in my beer, so I always ask the bartender to skip the lime.

    That said, there are several theories, all of which are summarized by Snope. You can read about it here:

    Corona Lime Wedge

    But if you're looking for a beer with some taste, why drink a Corona at all?
    Dark Wolf, RyanT and Brules like this.
  5. El Graduado

    El Graduado Manta Ray

    First, I have to say that I have never had a fly fall in my beer in Mexico or any other place. I would certainly rack that up to old wives' tales, just like the origin of the word "tapa" to describe a dish of food in Spain that was supposed to serve the same purpose. What keeps the flies off of the tapa? Or the lime, for that matter? And if the lime is squished down the neck, do that keep flies from swimming in the beer? Naw, I don't buy the fly story. I never put much faith in bartenders as historians, either.

    Second, I don't consider Snopes a serious place to do research, it is just a bunch of articles posted by people that may or may not do their due diligence in their investigations, I have no way of knowing their bona fides. But, in the spirit of fairness, I looked on the site after you suggested it and read this on Snopes: "While a Corona served in the U.S. is always accorded a wedge of lime seated in the rim of the bottle (it’s generally left to the imbiber to shove the wedge down into the brew), in Mexico that same bottle of beer would likely be served that way only in a bar frequented by Americans. Mexicans who drink Corona tend to scoff at the idea that the beverage needs a lime, regarding the fruit’s addition as a gimmick for los turistas. Whatever the custom’s origin, it does not appear it started in Mexico with the local population of suds lovers."

    I am trying to understand your reply.

    Do you mean, "we ordered a Corona in the US and found it so foul tasting that only sticking a lime in it made it drinkable." ??? If it was so bad the first time, why would someone order more?
    gopbroek likes this.
  6. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
    I’ve never really understood why anyone cares about this either way...I suppose someone who really wants to drink corona but not have a lime? Does that person exist? The ‘I want all the pleasure of a corn syrup light alcoholic beverage but I draw the line at citrus’
    Steelyeyes and Magnus Lundstedt like this.
  7. AdivingBel

    AdivingBel Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Missouri
    Meh...I like lime in my Corona and I don't feel the least bit tourista. It's refreshing (for soda pop beer). I also like an orange slice in my Blue Moon. Guess I find fruity beer drinkable, but I would prefer a Bohemia Obscura. I don't like lime (or salt) anywhere near decent tequila. I've also never worn a balloon on my head (in Coz). Dive and let dive...drink and let drink. :cheers:
    ccannon707, Dark Wolf, RyanT and 2 others like this.
  8. Esprise Me

    Esprise Me Kelp forest dweller ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Los Angeles, CA
    I also like the taste of fresh lime juice in a Mexican-style beer. The origin story is mildly interesting but has no bearing on my enjoyment. I've also been known to eat at Taco Bell. Call me a gringa; me da igual.
    Hoyden likes this.
  9. Searcaigh

    Searcaigh Chromodoris gordonii Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Dubai, UAE
    Lager with lime juice in it was "thing" in the UK back in the 60s and 70s. I don't know if this habit still exists.

    Lager is not a beer though :D

    Proper beers like ales or IPAs don't need lime for flavour.
    Richardl and Magnus Lundstedt like this.
  10. Zef

    Zef Divemaster

    I used to drink Corona, then I moved to Belgium and learned what real beer is.

    BrackaFish and Searcaigh like this.

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