How does beer skunk?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how does beer skunk?” with an in-depth analysis of the potential reasons behind a skunked beer. Moreover, we are going to discuss how to prevent beer from getting skunked.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How does beer skunk?

Due to a photochemical reaction, the beer becomes skunked. We use the term “skunked” to describe beer that has been ruined by UV rays ( UV rays). The skunked beer is usually caused by a chemical reaction that is initiated by light exposure.

During the brewing process. When boiled, hops release iso-alpha acids into the liquid. But if beer is exposed to sunlight, the sun’s power breaks down those iso-alpha acids. The resulting chemical compounds now bind with the proteins that have sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine present in their formulation. 

Thus, the compound that is formed as a result of this reaction is 3-Methyl-2-Butene-1-Thiol that is responsible for the skunked beer.

If you don’t want your beer to skunk, the easiest way to keep it from doing so is to keep it in the shade. It’s not good to drink skunk beer. If you’ve been through it, you know what it’s like, and you don’t want it to happen again.

Iso-Alpha Acids are chemical molecules released when hops are boiled down to make beer. They’re bitter on their own, but when they’re exposed to sunlight, they break down and mix with other molecules in the beer to generate a chemical that’s nearly comparable to the one found in skunk spray.

Which compound is responsible for beer skunk?

3-Methyl-2-Butene-1-Thiol is responsible for skunk beer.

What happens is that when the sunlight finds its way to the beer, it breaks the iso-alpha acids (that were formed by the courtesy of hops). The resulting chemical compounds now bind with the proteins that have sulfur-containing amino acids like methionine, cysteine, homocysteine, and taurine present in their formulation. Thus, the compound that is formed as a result of this reaction is 3-Methyl-2-Butene-1-Thiol that is responsible for the skunked beer.

How do we prevent skunked beer?

Typically, beers are sold in dark glass bottles or aluminum cans because sunlight cannot easily pass through these things, which is why dark glass bottles and aluminum cans are used to store the beer. Brown is the most common color for dark glass bottles.

Light-struck beer is caused by visible light with a wavelength of 400 to 500 nanometers (the blue end of the spectrum) and ultraviolet light with a wavelength of less than 400 nanometers.

Brown bottles

Brown bottles block out light under 500 nanometers.

Green bottles

Green bottles block light below 400 nanometers, which is why the occasional Heineken will taste off. In other words, it’s not that effective.

Clear bottles

Clear glass provides zero protection against light, which is why Corona advertisers cleverly suggest you drink their brew with a slice of lime.

Cans 

Cans can block out all light and therefore are ace.

Can we un-skunk our beer?

Unfortunately no we can’t un-skunk our beer because this compound has formed it is there and won’t disappear.

How to prevent other off-flavors in beer? 

Off flavors in beer are caused by heat, which accelerates oxidation and causes the beer to taste like cardboard. 

Moreover, allowing chilled beer to warm up and then trying to chill it again is bad for the beer because it off-flavors the beer. 

To begin with, in order to preserve the flavors in your beer, especially beer bottles, you must always store the beer in a cool, dark place, such as your refrigerator or in a properly packed cooler.

Is skunked beer still alcoholic?

Absolutely. The light-strike reaction (UV rays) does not affect a beer’s alcohol content. When beer becomes skunked, it is the hop-derived iso-alpha-acids that are affected, not the alcohol. The beer has the same strength and alcohol by volume (ABV).

Skunked beer isn’t just a bad beer, though – it wasn’t brewed like that, just like a rotten vegetable wasn’t grown like that. Skunking is basically the chemical reaction that takes place with hops and light.

What does skunked beer taste like?

It tastes exactly like it smells. Consider a beer with an offensive, sulphuric taste and a slightly manky, wet-dog flavor. And in the worst cases, it’s just like the other kind of skunk.

Conclusion 

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how does beer skunk?” with an in-depth analysis of the potential reasons behind a skunked beer. Moreover, we discussed how to prevent beer from getting skunked.

Citations 

https://www.businessinsider.com/why-beer-is-skunked-and-how-to-prevent-it-2014-10
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2014/09/29/the-science-of-skunky-beer-and-how-to-prevent-it/
https://www.livescience.com/33718-beer-skunks.html
https://www.chowhound.com/food-news/53966/skunked-beer-what-causes-skunky-beer-and-how-to-prevent-it/

Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.