Q & Ale – What causes skunky beer or why is my beer skunky smelling?

I had a skunky beer recently and I did wonder why it tasted like that. Thanks for the explanation.

I think about beer

question and ale“Skunky” is one of the most common sensory adjectives I see applied to beer that has “gone bad.”  In beer terms, skunky has become sort of a beginners descriptor for most off flavors.  However, it is actually a very specific off-flavor with a very specific origin. Today’s Q & Ale will address: “What causes skunky beer or why is my beer skunky smelling?

That “skunky” aroma is actually the result of a beer getting “lightstruck.” Specifically, it’s the result of light reacting with certain hop compounds.  This reaction creates a chemical compound that smells like a skunk’s spray.  The reaction is known as photo-oxidation.

The “obnoxious odor” was first documented by German Chemist Dr. Carl Lintner in 1875.  This seems pretty late in the history of beer, but my educated guess is that it coincides with 3 things: the increased use of clear glass in drinking vessels in 19th century…

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