This page may contain links that earns us a commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

What Is Skunked Beer?

Have you ever come across a beer that tastes off or smells skunky? Then you’ve likely encountered skunked beer.

The good news is that it’s an easy fix and you don’t need to throw out the whole batch.

You don’t have to be a professional brewer to understand the basics of great beer.

A basic understanding of the process will help you recognize when something has gone wrong with your batch and help you avoid making costly mistakes.

In this article, we’ll explore one of the most common mistakes in brewing – skunked beer – and some tips for avoiding it in the future.

What Is Skunked Beer?

In simple terms, skunking is caused by light reacting with specific proteins found in hops – specifically, alpha acids known as “humulone” which react with light to produce sulfur-based compounds that give off a unique smell and taste similar to that of a skunk’s spray.

This reaction can happen when bottled beer is exposed to light before consumption or when it sits too long (even in dark places). Skunking can occur even if the beer wasn’t stored improperly since some types of glass allow more light through than others.

So if a beer was brewed correctly but packaged in glass that allowed too much light through, it could still become skunked due to exposure from store shelves or even direct sunlight in your house!

Causes Of Skunked Beer

Skunked beer it’s a common problem among beer enthusiasts and can occur regardless of how much effort you put into brewing it. Here’s what causes skunked beer, and ways to avoid it:

  • Oxygen present during bottling: Even if you take great care not to introduce oxygen when bottling your homebrew, some air may still be present when the bottle is sealed. This can then react with the hop compounds to cause skulking.
  • Light exposure: Hops are sensitive to light and exposure can cause them to spoil even before you start drinking your beer. Make sure you store any open containers in a cool dark place away from sunlight that might penetrate your refrigerator or other storage areas.
  • Heat exposure: Another major contributor to skunking is heat. The higher temperatures will cause the hops in your beer to break down faster, leading to off-flavors and an unpleasant aroma. Be sure to store your beers in an area with a cool temperature below 60°F (15°C).
  • Over-hopping during the brewing process: If you’re a fan of hoppy beers then it’s tempting to add more hops than recommended for homebrewing recipes. However, this excess of hops can also lead to degradation in flavor which may be responsible for producing skunked beer. To prevent this, stick with the recommended amounts outlined in homebrewing recipes!

Skunked beer is never pleasant but luckily it’s easy enough to prevent if you know the causes! Follow these guidelines and you’ll be well on your way toward enjoying great-tasting brews without any pesky skunks ruining your experience!

Signs Of Skunked Beer

Skunky beers typically display certain characteristics:

  • The smell is pungent and unpleasant, much like a skunk’s spray.
  • The beer tastes bitter and off-putting.
  • The color may be more yellowish than usual due to the degradation of proteins and hop oils caused by light exposure.

Effects Of Skunking On Beer Taste

Skunky beers tend to taste sour, rotten, or “off” due to their limited shelf life. The flavors contained in hops are volatile and quickly break down when exposed to heat or light so they cannot be replaced once they’re gone!

Additionally, beers that have been skunked can cause an unpleasant aftertaste as well as affect their overall flavor profile significantly compared to when they were first packaged before becoming exposed and degraded by oxygen or light sources.

How To Prevent Skunking Of Beer

Here are some tips for preventing your precious brews from becoming skunky:

  • Store your beers away from direct sunlight or fluorescent lights as both are sources of UV radiation which can result in rapid deterioration of hop oils contained within them!
  • Make sure all bottles/cans are tightly sealed before storing them, as oxygen can also cause oxidation which will eventually lead to skunky flavors if left unchecked for too long!
  • When possible use brown bottles which block out more sunlight than clear/green ones do!


Skunky-tasting beers are no fun but fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to prevent them from happening in the first place – simply store your beers away from direct sunlight/fluorescent lights and make sure all cans/bottles are tightly sealed before storing them!

With these tips, hopefully, now you’ll never have another dreadfully disappointing experience caused by skunked beer again!

Author Image Fabian
I’m Fabian, homebrewer and beer taster. I’m also the editor of Beer100. I love travelling the world and trying out new handcraft beer and different beer styles. I’m not an expert in brewing beer, but I know a few things about beer, which I share on this blog. If you need help or have a question, please comment below.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *