Beer Gone Bad: How Certain Bottle Colors Lead to Skunked Beer

Beer drinkers beware; this may leave a sour taste in your mouth. According to research, certain bottle colors make beer vulnerable to turning bad, or becoming ” skunked” as many people call it. Don’t blame the bottle, though. Light is the main culprit behind this unpleasant effect.

Appropriately named, skunked beer tastes and smells foul. When a beer is exposed to light for a certain length of time, the light interacts with the beverage’s hop-derived compounds and forms a chemical often compared to the odor of a skunk’s spray. This not only occurs from sunlight, but the fluorescent lighting found in many of your local stores and beverage display cases.

As you may have guessed, clear bottles don’t offer much protection. Light easily passes through this transparent glass and can skunk a beer in a matter of time. Green-colored bottles offer some protection, but still allows light to pass through. Not completely invulnerable, brown bottles block light the best between the three and provide beer with the most protection.

Although some beers are more susceptible to the skunk effect than others, for beer drinkers, it may be wise to purchase these beverages in cans, sealed cardboard cases, or bottles that haven’t been exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light.

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