We all know that peculiar off-flavor and smell that can sometimes plague our favorite beers, often referred to as “skunky”. It’s a term familiar to many beer lovers, but does this same phenomenon affect non-alcoholic beers?
Can a non-alcoholic beer also go skunky?
Can Non-Alcoholic Beer Get Skunked?
The simple answer is yes. Just like its alcoholic counterpart, a non-alcoholic drink can get skunked.
The process that leads to a drink getting skunked is not solely dependent on its alcohol content. Instead, it’s largely about the hops and exposure to light.
How Does Beer Get Skunked?
Hops are a crucial ingredient in many beers, giving them their characteristic bitterness and aroma. They contain compounds that, when broken down by light, lead to the creation of the skunky compounds.
When beer, whether alcoholic or not, is exposed to light, the UV rays can break down the alpha acids in hops, producing a chemical that’s similar to what skunks produce. This is what gives the beer its skunky aroma and taste.
So, if a non-alcoholic drink contains hops and gets exposed to light, it can indeed get skunked.
Clear and green bottles are more prone to allowing UV light to penetrate and affect the drink, while brown bottles and cans offer better protection.
What can I do to prevent my non-alcoholic beer from getting skunked?
Keep it away from light. Storing your drinks in a dark place or in their original box can reduce the risk.
Is skunked beer harmful to drink?
No, it’s not harmful. It just has an unpleasant taste and smell, but it won’t hurt you if you decide to drink it.
Do all non-alcoholic beers contain hops?
No, not all do. The presence of hops depends on the recipe and style of the drink. If unsure, check the ingredients list.
Does temperature play a role in skunking?
While temperature can affect beer’s overall quality, it’s primarily light exposure that causes skunking.
Can I tell by the smell if my drink is skunked?
Yes, usually. A skunky aroma is a clear indicator. If you detect a smell reminiscent of a skunk’s spray, your drink has likely been skunked.
Non-alcoholic beer can indeed get skunked, much in the same way regular beer can. The key culprit is light exposure, especially UV light, interacting with the hops present in the drink.
The best way to ensure your non-alcoholic beer remains fresh and free from that unpleasant skunky aroma is to store it away from light.
Whether you’re enjoying an alcoholic beer or its non-alcoholic counterpart, the experience is always better when it’s fresh as the brewer intended!