Beer Exposure to Sunlight

Hops + Sunlight = Skunky

If you have ever tasted a skunky beer you might think to yourself, after spitting it out, what could possibly cause an off flavor that bad?  Well one reason for this flavor would be that the beer was exposed to sunshine (ultraviolet radiation). Specifically, sunlight initiates degradation of the alpha acids into smaller chains which then allow sulfer to happily bond to form 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, if you care!  This is what tastes like a skunk or rotten eggs, something not preferred in my beer.

This is why beer bottles are amber in color as it does a better job at blocking UV than would a clear bottle.  With time though, UV will impact the flavor of an amber bottle so it is not completely safe.

If you want to experience the flavor for yourself take a moderately hopped beer and place it into direct sunlight in the middle of summer when UV is strongest.  Take samples over a time period of an hour and notice the degradation in the flavor, that is if you can let a beer sit that long!  Skunk – yum…..

Check out a recent video I made taking images every 60 seconds for the first 24 hours and every 120 seconds thereafter.  If I do it again I will be sure to use a lighter beer so I can see more through the carboy.  Feel free to shoot me some suggestions for the next attempt or other test suggestions…

Beer Fermentation Time Lapse

Nearly all partial boil brewers will reach the point when making beer and ask themselves  “What can I do to make this beer taste better?”  Well, the first answer is to move from partial boils to full boils.  By this I mean that if you are brewing 5 gallon batches of beer but only boiling 2.5 gallons when making hop additions and then adding water after boiling you would be doing a partial boil.  The full boil gives the benefits outlined below:

  • With a partial boil the specific gravity of the wort is higher and the solubility of the wort decreases.  As a result the hop utilization also decreases, resulting in a less hoppy beer.  A full boil has a higher solubility therefore the utilization of the hops increases.
  • Carmelization is another problem with the partial boils.  This can result in flavors that don’t exactly fit the profile of the beer you are looking for.  On top of this, it can darken your beer.  With a full boil the wort is diluted more to prevent this from occurring.
  • Adding water at the end of the boil will increase the likelihood for contamination as the water being added is likely not sanitized.  If you are not holding that water above 160°F for at least a few minutes you are likely not killing all the bacteria that are in the water.  You might argue that your tap water is treated to kill bacteria but there may be growth in or near your plumbing or devices that dispense the water.  Assuming your water is perfectly clean because it is chlorinated read the next point.
  • If your adding into your partial boil tap water that is treated with chlorine, the boiling of this water helps volatilize the chlorine from your wort.  As this water is added at the end of the boil your chlorine content would be higher resulting in a medicinal flavor – yum.  If your water is treated with chloramine the only thing to watch out for is your yeast not performing well; this will have little effect on the overall taste of the beer.

So in the end it comes down to personal preference, what you are willing to pay, and ultimately how your beer tastes.  If you like your beer then keep doing what your doing but if you are looking for something better it just might be time to make the change to full boils.

 

Im going to start off by stating the fact that beer is much more tastefully complex than wine.  Wine people around the world can take this statement and just accept it because the proof is in the pudding.

Complexity of Beer Exceeds Wine

Regarding taste, beer has a much more complex flavor profile than wine.

1.) Beer has water, yeast, malt, hops, adjuncts, and in some Belgian beers a variety of spices.  Wine on the other hand has only water, grapes or fruit, and yeast.

2.) The hops that are used in brewing can not only create a bitter flavor but can also create an aroma flavor profile.  When you combine these flavors with the combination of different malts and yeast it boggles the mind.  Wine, unfortunately, doesn’t have the flavor complexity and health benefits that the hops offer.

3.) Carbonation of beer has a drastic effect on the taste.  Higher carbonation levels can add a sweetness and bite to the beer such as a Hefeweizen or there are nitrogen carbonated beers such as Guinness which add a very smooth profile.  Wines are not carbonated.

4.) Adjuncts and spices that are added to the beer such as rye, belgian candi sugar, orange peel, coriander, ginger, or flaked oats can add a multitude of flavors.  Wines also may add oak chips or other additions of spices but not to the level that is at times found in beer.

5.) A beer can have a light or heavy body and also be sweet or dry depending on the attenuation of the yeast.

6.) A beer can be fermented colder with a lager yeast (bottom fermenting) or an ale yeast (top fermenting).  There are hundreds and thousands of different yeast types to choose from.  Wine, however, is some what limited in the selection of yeast strains.

7.) Beers can be filtered, unfiltered, and be purposely cloudy with yeast in suspension.  Yeast will add flavor profiles to the beer as well as providing your daily dose of B-vitamins.

8.) Beer colors can come in whites, yellows, reds, browns, blacks.  Wines are typically found in whites and reds.

9.) Alcohol content can vary in beer from 2% all the way up to 55% (world record of 55% by BrewDog named “End of the World” as of July 23, 2010).

Beer into Wine Glass

Next time pour your beer into a wine glass...

So…the next time you take a sip of beer think to yourself how bland and boring it would be if you were instead drinking a glass of wine.  Perhaps you should pour your beer into a wine glass instead and waft before every sip because in my opinion the glass is better used for beer than wine.

 

Once again craft beer sales are up year over year and market share is lost by the large regional breweries. As this shift continues, more craft beers are found on tap in local bars and retail locations. These beers include the likes of New Belgium’s Fat Tire, Sierra Nevada’s Pale Ale, Bootlegger’s Knuckle Sandwich, Dogfish Head’s 60 Minute IPA, and Blue Moon.

Nearly all of the craft brewed beer breweries listed above have a strong tradition of producing quality beers using quality ingredients. Then there is Blue Moon which is brewed by the Blue Moon Brewing Company.  Wait a minute, the Blue Moon Brewing Company?  How come I have never heard of the Blue Moon Brewing company and why is it that a brewery could be so confident that one beer style is so good that they would just name their brewery the name of that same beer?  Something sounds fishy…

Well with some digging this is why Blue Moon is brewed by the Blue Moon Brewing Company.  Molson-Coors is the real brewer behind Blue Moon and as part of their marketing agenda they realized that the only way a craft beer would sell is to completely erase the name of Molson-Coors from the bottle.  Of course that marketing plan worked well because many people have heard of Blue Moon yet many don’t know who brews it.  Don’t get me wrong, I do believe the beer is a good beer and is an excellent example of the witbier syle although it has lost some credibility in my opinion.

If regional breweries want to create craft beer go right ahead, but they should not make an attempt to hide behind seudo Brewing Company names in an effort to gain sales.  Until next time, I’m going to stick with the beers that brewers are proud to stand behind.

calorie of beers and light beer

The question continues as to how far the regional and globally distributed light beer breweries will push the market.  It appears that with beers approaching 50 calories per bottle these breweries are well on there way to inventing yellow colored water, how novel a concept!

Unbelievably, there are many people who love these kind of water beers and swear by them.  As part of my investigative nature I broke down what determines the calories found in a beer and what this means to alcohol by volume content.  Check out the link here Beer Calories and Light Beer Myth.

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