Posted on July 19, 2012 by Marina

The sun & summer heat can be tempting. All of a sudden the patio and outdoors are calling your name, and there’s nothing quite as refreshing as a cold one under the sun.

Photo: Blackshop Restaurant

But don’t be fooled! Beer and sun are not the best friends everyone makes them out to be. As a matter of fact, you should try and protect your beer. Here are some tips from the Good Beer Folk Colin in our Quality Control lab.

What effect do sun and light have on beer?

When beer has been exposed to light for a period of time, molecules derived from the hops  (isohumulones) begin to break down. This initiates a chain reaction within the beer and the production of a compound known as 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol or more simply MBT. This compound causes what we call a “light-struck” off-flavour that is often described as “skunky”, as it is similar in character to a skunk’s natural defense. It is important to note that “light-struck” beer is different than stale beer or beer that has been subjected to heat damage, both often being referred to as “skunky” erroneously. Beer can become “light-struck” in as little as one minute in bright sun, in a few hours in daylight, and after a few days under fluorescent lighting.

How can I protect my beer?

Simply, keep it away from light whenever possible! Generally, avoid beer that has been stored under bright light or in an illuminated cooler, and don’t leave your beer exposed to sunlight for long periods of time. In the summer, keep your beer in the shade and always chilled. Keeping beer cool slows chemical reactions and helps to prolong its freshness. Love your beer like you do your children, don’t leave it in a car on a hot day!

Colin’s summer tips

1. Keep your bottled beer in a cold and dark place; coolers are great for this!
2. Cans are great when drinking outdoors as they are impervious to light.
3. Save a seat in the shade for your brew.
4. During patio sessions, choose pints over a pitcher so that your beer doesn’t sit in the sun for too long.
5. Although few things seem more appealing than ice cold beer on a hot sunny day, for optimal flavour enjoy Steam Whistle Pilsner at 4-8ºC.