The Ugly Truth about Corona

Photo credit: Reinis Traidas

You’ve seen the advertisement – Corona makes any activity in life seem like you are sitting on a beach, basking in the sun with the sand between your toes. What a beautiful way to make you buy! I’ve gotta give their advertising campaign props.


In all honesty, the beer doesn’t taste like much, which is why it is so popular. Most people are just looking for an easy drink to quench their thirst in the hot summer sun. Adding a lime to a Corona helps give it more flavor but should you really need to add extra flavor to a beer? What is the lime juice really trying to cover up?


Have you ever noticed that Corona can taste really off at times? You know – those moments when you pop the cap off and you get a whiff of that foul, skunky smell? Well that’s exactly what it is – the beer has skunked! Skunking happens when the beer isn’t preserved in optimal conditions and some of the hop byproducts start to break down chemically. Let’s take a look at why this happens.

The Ugly, Skunky Truth


What causes this chemical breakdown of the beer?  Well scientists have been studying this question for a while now and they’ve reduced it to one external factor: light.  While heat can cause other breakdowns to occur, we are actually referring to ultraviolet and visible light in this case. Light degrades the isohumolone, a compound created during the brewing process, into 3-MBT.   And 3-MBT is one of the active ingredients in a skunk’s spray.  Yuck!  So watch out – this can happen even when the beer is stored in a cool place!

It’s the Bottle!

So what does this have to do with Corona?  Have you noticed the difference between Corona bottles and other beer bottles?  It’s their distinctive clear glass.  There is a reason why breweries use brown bottles – it blocks out ultraviolet and visible light, preserving the beer so that it doesn’t skunk.


Corona’s bottle doesn’t block light at all, which is why you get that whiff of skunk from it more often than not.  The makers of Corona don’t really worry about this though as they want most people to add lime to their beer.  But why on earth would you want to drink skunky lime beer?

Help! I Need a New Summer Beer!

So the next time you are looking for that beer with a beach vibe, look away from that case of Corona. If you want to stay in the Mexican genre, try some Pacifico, Carta Blanca, or Tecate.  You’ll be surprised what a beer with lime taste like without the skunk flavor.


If you are looking for even more flavorful beers to quench your thirst during the summer, I’ve written about some of my favorites last week.