Throughout the course of each beer drinker's history, they have almost certainly stuffed a lime wedge down the neck of a Corona bottle on a hot summer day. Much as food can be tied to memory, these lime-tinged beers can transport you back to “your beach,” as the Corona advertisements say.
Now Corona lets the individual consumer decide whether or not to "fruit" their beer, while other brands like Bud Light Lime make the decision for you. Anthem Brewing has jumped into this arena with their refreshing summer seasonal offering Rad Hombre, a Mexican-style Lager with Kaffir Lime Leaves.
Before we get into the style, per the usual, I want to talk a little bit about brewing history, which is surprisingly rich in Mexico.
Even before Europeans set foot in Mexico, fermented beverages were being made with local ingredients like corn, honey, and agave. As European colonialism took hold, the Spaniards brought their customs with them, and the first European-style brewery was established in 1542.
Brewing during colonial times never reached great heights, but it started to gain steam after the Mexican War of Independence of 1821, when the area saw a large influx of German and Austrian immigrants.
There was another foreign incursion into Mexico in 1862, this time by France, which installed Archduke Ferdinand Maximilian of Austria as Emperor of Mexico. Maximilian's reign was short-lived, ending with his execution in 1867, but all of this foreign influence left a large imprint on the drinking preferences of the locals—as evidenced by Vienna Lager (darker beer) and Bohemian Pilsner (lighter beer) being the two most popular styles of beer throughout Mexico.
Now the next question is, what's with the lime? Well, that is a difficult question because no one seems to know how that started.
One theory is that Corona started adding limes to their beer to cover a "skunky" flavor from their product being light-struck since it comes in a clear glass bottle. Another theory is that beachfront bars started shoving lime wedges in bottles to keep flies from finding a home inside.
No matter what the truth of the matter is, the tradition of adding lime to Mexican Lagers is here to stay.
So now that we have had a little history lesson, let's talk about what exactly makes a Mexican Lager. Well this is also a tricky one, because currently the BJCP (governing homebrew competitions) and the Brewer's Association (governing pro-brewer competitions) have no style guideline for Mexican Lager.
Mexican Lager (the lighter version) is often times categorized under International Pale Lager, with the expectation that the body is going to be a little lighter due to the usage of flaked maize. International Pale Lagers are generally derived from those early Pilsner-type lagers, but they also tend to have less hops and decreased bitterness. The light body and lower IBUs (international bitterness units) make this beer incredibly crushable on days when the temperature outside starts to climb. So now, let’s get on to the review!
Rad Hombre has an ABV of 5.0 percent, which would be fairly in the middle of the International Pale Lager style (4.6-6.0 percent) if we are going by those standards. This beer also has a very low bitterness coming in at 15 IBUs, which would even be below the International Pale Lager range (18-25). Anthem even suggests a colder serving temperature of 42 degrees Fahrenheit, which means this beer was specifically designed to beat the heat.
Aroma and Appearance
The nose on this beer is a nice blend of tart and sweet from the interplay between the Kaffir lime leaves and the sweet malt (and, I am assuming, adjunct sugar from flaked maize). The beer is brilliantly clear and pours a very light yellow to straw color. The head on this beer is light and fluffy but dissipates quickly, again I assume from the usage of flaked maize. There is also no detectable hop aroma in this Rad Hombre.
Flavor and Mouthfeel
The second this beer hits your palate, you are greeted with a strong lime flavor that is very present but not overbearing. The sweetness of the malt and adjunct sugar support this lime flavor without taking a backseat. The body of the beer is very light and this thing goes down way too easy. Also there is almost no detectable hop flavor, except maybe a slight bitterness in the finish which helps keep this beer crisp. I was barely able to finish this paragraph before my glass was drained. Watch out for this one folks.
If you were to say Bud Light Lime is the perfect lake beer, I wouldn't necessarily argue with you. If you felt as though a Corona with a lime in it was the beer for lounging on a beach, you would probably be right again.
But the beer I’d offer you in this Oklahoma summer heat would be a Rad Hombre from Anthem. This beer is unpretentious and built for good times. When it comes to certain styles, the environment can be a big of a factor in the enjoyment of the beer. When you are out there on that lake and the temperatures begin to climb, this is your beer.