What Is A Skunked Beer? – 4 Lies About Skunked Beer

A skunked beer is that ghastly-smelling beer you have encountered at your least favorite bar. If you have ever been around a skunk, or are one of those people who has received a skunk spray to the face or body, then you probably have a general idea about what the smell of a skunked beer – a.k.a. lightstruck beer – is like: noxious and pungent.

What Is The Definition Of A Skunked Beer?

Skunked Beer - What Is the Definition of a Skunked Beer

A skunked beer is a beer that has been exposed to light or ultraviolet light, causing it to develop off flavors and aromas. The most common cause of skunking is exposure to light during storage or transportation.

The chemical responsible for skunking is called 3-methylbut-2-ylidene cyclopentanone, more commonly known as MBT. It is produced when a compound called tetrachlorophthalic anhydride (TCPA) reacts with oxygen in the presence of heat and light.

MBT has an odor threshold of only 1 part per billion (ppb), meaning that even extremely small amounts can have a noticeable effect on the flavor of your beer.

How Do They Make Skunked Beer?

The process to make it is pretty simple. Skunking can happen to any beer, even the most expensive craft brews and fine wines.

This is because ultraviolet light has a direct effect on the chemical structure of hops. Hops are full of compounds called alpha acids, which give beer its bitterness. When exposed to UV rays, these compounds break down into other substances called iso-alpha acids. These iso-alpha acids taste very bitter and are considered “off flavors” in beer.

Skunky beer is simply beer that has been affected by UV light, giving it an unpleasant aroma and flavor similar to that of a skunk’s spray. The only way to avoid this problem is to keep your beer in a dark place or use a filter that blocks out UV rays.

Why Is Your Beer Bottle Important?

Ever wonder why your beer bottle matters to the skunked beer? You know, that stinky brown liquid that you can’t stop drinking because it tastes just so good but smells like a skunk took a bath in your beer? Well, I’m here to tell you why.

The first thing to note is that the type of bottle your beer comes in has a lot to do with whether or not your beer will get skunked. A glass bottle is better than a metal can because it allows light to pass through it and affect the beer’s taste over time. So, if you buy beer in cans, you’re much more likely to get skunked.

Secondly, there are two types of glass bottles: clear and green. The type of glass used in the bottle is important because clear glass lets more light through than green glass does. So if you see a clear glass bottle sitting in direct sunlight for hours on end, you’re going to have trouble with skunked beer.

How Can You Tell If Beer Is Skunked?

If you want to know whether your beer is skunked or not, then you should check for the following signs:

  • The color of the beer will have changed from its original color into something close to yellow or brownish-yellow. This change happens due to the chemical reaction that takes place when light hits the beer.
  • The smell will also be different from what it should smell like; it is likely that you will notice an unpleasant odor coming from your beer instead of something pleasant.
  • It tastes like a skunk. Beer that’s been exposed to sunlight will have an off flavor that tastes like a combination of wet cardboard and roadkill. Not exactly pleasant!

Will Skunked Beer Make You Sick?

If your beer has been skunked, you’ve probably noticed that it’s not the same color as it used to be. This is because UV rays from the sun have caused a chemical reaction with certain organic compounds in the beer, which results in the familiar skunky aroma and flavor.

Skunked beer is not always harmful and sometimes doesn’t even taste that bad. But if you’re worried about drinking spoiled beer, here are some things you should know:

1. Skunked Beer May Cause Headaches or Nausea

The most common symptom of drinking a spoiled beer is an unpleasant headache or stomachache. This can happen when the hydrogen sulfide produced by certain bacteria begins to break down into sulfuric acid — which can cause irritation in your nose, throat and stomach.

2. Skunked Beer Can Make You Sick If You Drink Too Much of It

Drinking too much skunked beer over time can also make people feel sick because they are consuming too much of the alcohol content by volume (ABV). This means there’s more alcohol than water in the drink, which means your body absorbs more alcohol than it would normally with regular beer.

What Is The Difference Between Oxidized And Skunked Beer?

Skunked Beer - What Is The Difference Between Oxidized And Skunked Beer

Oxidized beer is not the same as skunked beer. Oxidation and skunking are two different processes that can happen to beer. They’re both bad, but for different reasons.

Oxidized beer is beer that has been exposed to oxygen. This can happen at any point in the life of a beer, but it’s most common during packaging and storage.

Oxidation occurs when oxygen interacts with a beer — often when a bottle or keg is exposed to too much air during storage or serving. This can cause off flavors like wet cardboard, sherry, papery or musty smells, as well as changes in color.

Skunked beer is caused by exposure to UV light and has its own distinct set of off flavors including sulfur and garlic notes.

Lies About Skunked Beer

Skunked Beer Is Just a Temporary Problem

It’s been said that skunked beer can be saved if it’s left open to the air for a few hours, but this isn’t true. The longer you leave it exposed to air, the more hops it will lose and the worse it will get.

Skunked Beer Can Be Fixed With A Cool Shower

This popular myth is also not true — a cool shower won’t do anything to help un-skunk your beer. If you want to try something at home, you could try putting some brown sugar in with your beer and letting it sit overnight. Hopefully this will sweeten up your brew enough so that it doesn’t taste like feet anymore.

Skunked Beer Is Caused By Light

This is not true! Beer can be exposed to light but that isn’t the cause of skunked beer. Skunky beer is caused when hop compounds react with air and produce a chemical called 3MBT (3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol). This chemical has an odor similar to that of skunk spray.

Skunked Beer Tastes Terrible

Not all cases of skunky beer will taste bad. In fact, some may not even be noticeable at all unless you’re looking for it. But if you do notice a flavor change, it may not be as bad as you think — some people actually like it!

FAQs

Is Corona always skunked?

No. But it often is.

Corona Extra is one of the most popular beers in Mexico, but in America it’s most often associated with cheap shots and frat parties. The beer has a bad reputation for being skunky or “lightstruck,” as it’s called in the beer world — meaning it’s been exposed to light, which causes a chemical reaction that makes the beer taste like garbage (or at least cat pee).

Skunked Beer - Is Corona always skunked

How long does it take for beer to get skunky?

The short answer is that it depends. There are several factors that can affect how long it takes for beer to get skunky, including the type of beer, the temperature and how it’s stored.

Can canned beer get skunked?

The answer is yes, canned beer can get skunked. But it’s not as common as you might think.

The most common cause of canned beer skunking is light exposure. Cans are opaque and protect the beer from light, so even if the can gets exposed to too much light, it won’t get skunked.

Does skunked beer lose alcohol?

So, the answer is yes: skunked beer does lose alcohol. However, it loses alcohol a lot faster if it’s exposed for longer, and at higher temperatures. The next time you have a few bottles of beer go bad in the back of your fridge, don’t be too disappointed—it’s actually to be expected!

How do you stop beer from Skunking?

Store it in a refrigerator at around 38/40 degrees Fahrenheit and keep it out of direct light. Cold temperature is the key factor here. The cooler the temperature, the less pronounced the skunking effect will be.

Conclusion

So, skunking is when sunlight/ultraviolet radiation hits the hops and creates 3Mbutyraldehyde, which then gets transferred to your beer. It will cause pretty much any beer to smell like a skunk. Very hoppy beers are the most susceptible because hoppier beers have more alpha-acids (which are the things that react with the light and create MBAs). The good news is that skunked beer isn’t harmful in any way. You can still drink it! And as long as you’re a fan of hoppy beers (IPAs, pale ales, etc.) then you probably won’t have a problem with your beer being skunked if you leave it in the sun.

If you want to learn more about special beer like ginger beer, you can see more here.