Put Stuff in Your Beer

Stretch out your beer supply, and add a little excitement to an otherwise dreary existence. Also, it's spicy!
May 8, 2020, 1:27pm
Modelo with Hot Sauce, Tajín, Lime Juice
Photo by Author

My high school English teacher, a guy we called Mr. Mo, was like the Robin Williams character in Dead Poets Society mixed with Jerry Garcia. One of the things I remember him saying, in some context that made sense at the time, was that people put initially limes into Corona because they thought it tasted bad without it. He said it was a "beach beer." Something about the way those plosives bounced out of his walrus mustache made the phrase "beach beer" stick in my brain forever. Beach beer.

Mr. Mo was onto something when he talked about putting stuff into a Corona. As a beer-saving and taste-optimizing strategy, I recommend making your own version of a fully-dressed Tecate, or an Armodelo. Another awful but descriptive name is the "Dirty Ashtray." These drinks are essentially four ingredients: light beer, hot sauce, salt, and lime. Some recipes will call for a shot of tequila, but I do not follow those recipes. You crack the beer halfway, put some lime juice on the top/rim, add a few splashes of hot sauce (your choice, but Cholula/Tapatio varieties are the norm) then sprinkle salt (and Tajín, if available) on top. When you fully crack the beer, your creation will come to life, but be ready to take a quick sip before it overflows. To make it Corona-style, fully disinfect the can before starting the process. If you opt for a pint glass instead of a can, add all the seasonings first, and the beer's carbonation will naturally give everything a good stir.

You can add things like more piquant hot sauces, pickle juice, and Worcestershire sauce, for notes of umami that will leave your guests (when you can have them) asking, "What happened to you during quarantine?" If you master this genre, you can move to more advanced beer cocktails, such as the Smoked Mexican Shandy (heads-up, you'll need a bong and an anise pod) the Lunch Box, and the savory-sweet Gomichela.

Pragmatically, this technique of adding spice and salt will make your beer last longer. The extra nonsense isn't meant to mask the bad taste of the beer; it's quite the opposite. An ice-cold Mexican beer on a hot day, if anything, goes down too easy. For me, someone that eats and drinks way too fast, dressing up a beer is like using one of those maze-shaped bowls for dogs. The extra ingredients and flavors serve as a prompt that this moment is meant to be savored, not shotgunned. Also, the extra flavors make each beer more filling, in turn saving your precious beers, in turn minimizing beer runs. Supply chain 101 stuff.

I've switched to drinking different versions of dressed-up Modelos instead of hazy IPAs, which are more expensive and more prone to give me a next-day headache after more than one. As an added bonus, the passive act of "having a beer" is now "assembling a beverage." Any "thing" that comes with smaller other things feels like a fascinating treat to me, and this plays into the concept (see: Bloody Marys with absurdly ornate "garnishes", matryoshka dolls, Terrariums with Lego men in them, etc.)

Though I don't recall why exactly Mr. Mo was talking about beer during a high school English class, I remember it being in some sense of nostalgia for his youth, not giving advice to his students. While he was adding lime to make his beer more easy-drinking, I'm adding lime (and salt, and Tajín, and hot sauce, and sometimes Worcestershire sauce) for the opposite reason: to make it last longer. I can't universally recommend going to the beach to enjoy this creation, but I can nervously recommend dressing up a Modelo in your apartment and saying "beach beer" a couple of times under your breath.

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