A lightstruck rod of controversy

In yesterday’s post about the advantages that craft beer has over wine, I mentioned both price and more consistency from a lack of cork taint as well as vintage variation. However, even in the series of articles over on San Francisco magazine, a group of tasters blind tasted three bottled beers vs draft pours of the same beer and two of the bottled beers were “lightstruck” (including one in a brown bottle).

I posted about it on Twitter, and Tom Mansell, a biochem wine geek, pointed out that clear and green bottles offer beer virtually no protection from ultraviolet light. Some hops components are particularly light-sensitive, and, according to the entry on lightstruck in the Oxford Companion to Beer, even as little as 10 seconds exposure to direct sunlight can cause off aromas from the compound MBT–or the beer being “skunked.” In a display cabinet with fluorescent lights, MBT can creep in. The Oxford Companion elaborates that because of the marketing appeal of green and clear bottles, some brewers use designer hops or hop products that do not lead to the off aromas when exposed to light. So no MBT in your MGD. While it seems odd that a major brewer would tolerate bottle variation and off aromas, stories abound on the internets about high levels of skunkiness in Corona and that the lime was popularized to mitigate that. Beer in cans or kegs has does not suffer from lightstrike, so good thing my beer of choice lately has been the Sixpoint “nanokeg.”

Does lightstrike affect wine bottles? Red wine has tannin and phenols that offers a layer of natural protection. Even though brown bottles would offer the most protection, only a few wines (e.g. Barolo) are bottled as such since tradition weights heavy on bottle type. Rosé and some white wines come in clear bottles to show off the color of the wine but such a bottle offers nothing in the way of UV protection. Although Roederer Cristal is a distinctive Champagne since it comes in a clear bottle, it comes shrouded in an orange wrap that provides ultraviolet protection. “Feuille morte,” a shade of green-yellow glass used for white Burgundies, affords ultraviolet protection; Jamie Goode said on Twitter that one “brave” British supermarket is now offering their rosé in such a bottle.

Anyway, one other thing for your wine and beer faults file…

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