Have you ever been outside on a hot day and craved a cold beer ever so badly? I have and I can remember finding that first sip of ice cold Corona (with a lime) gloriously refreshing. Have you ever noticed how that same Corona doesn’t taste nearly so good a few minutes later? Note: noticing this might depend on how many Coronas you’ve already had. I’ve noticed, but I thought it had to do with the beer warming in the sun. Turns out I was wrong, the sun hates beer. It is an indisputable fact of science. Okay, I made that up, but the sun can turn a beer “skunky” in a matter of minutes. Scientists have noted that UV light interacts with certain hop byproducts found in beer. When UV light hits these chemicals they breakdown into the very same chemical that humans revile in the scent of actual skunks. Who knew? Turns out these scientists did.
Apparently humans are super sensitive to this chemical and can detect less than a milligram in a swimming pool. This is why you might find yourself enjoying your beer a little less if you’ve been out in the sun. I’m writing about this because I found myself turning my nose up at a glass of delicious beer this past weekend. I was really concerned there was something wrong with me until I recalled reading about the sun’s malicious intent in a recent issue of Beer Advocate. I figured I’d best blog about this and spread the word. This Summer, if you plan on drinking your favorite beer out of a clear glass or drinking Corona, Sleemans, Dead Frog, Heineken, or Stella Artois out of the bottle, shield your drinking vessel from the sun to preserve the taste.
Have you seen those Corona commercials where two people are sitting on a fabulous beach with their bottles of Corona? They are advertising skunky beer and I find that funny. If only you could taste ads, more people might be drinking quality BC microbrew, no lime required.
North American Longneck Beer Bottle
In Canada, you’ll notice that most of the major breweries, and a good portion of the microbreweries, use the standard North American longneck beer bottle. The reasons for the widespread use of this bottle are predominantly cost related, because, what most people don’t realize, is that these bottle are reused up to 20 times! It’s weird when you consider the bottles you often drink from may have previously visited twenty other parties via twenty other people before you. When I think of some of the parties I’ve been to, this fact creeps me out. Still, this is a great example of the second R in action; environmentalists should drink more beer.
I visited Fort Garry Brewing in Winnipeg on a school trip during university. While I don’t recommend visiting Winnipeg in January, it was a pretty cool brewery tour. It was there that I got wise to beer bottle reusability. Fort Garry would get a dump of bottles from the depot, filter out the usable ones (Corona, Heineken, Sleeman, and other distinctive bottles), wash them, and put them right back into production. The whole process of purchase, consume, return, wash, refill, redistribute could take as little as a week to repeat itself. To discern the age of your bottle, take a look at the widest parts of the bottle just below the neck and above the base. You’ll see two lines where the bottles come in contact with the production line rollers. The more worn the lines on the bottle, the older the bottle is.
Another common perception among beer drinkers is that bottles are superior to cans. I do find that I enjoy drinking beer out of a bottle more than out of a can, but this has only to do with feel. I’ve heard complaints of beer tasting metallic when consumed out of a can, but pouring into a glass easily solves this problem. Cans are actually a better storage vessel for beer because they let no light through, plus they weigh less and are cheaper to ship. Exposure to light can greatly affect beer quality, which is why a darker bottle makes a better brewing vessel than a light bottle. Erik wrote a great post on the affect that light has on beer, because really, who wants a clear bottle anyway?