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Beer 101: Corona’s Dirty Secret Revealed

Today’s topic in my monthly Beer 101 series is one of my favourite things to talk about because it both educates beer drinkers AND reveals how corporate brewers sometimes put marketing before quality. In the column I discuss how beer is actually quite light sensitive and if not packaged properly quickly produces one of the most undesirable off-flavours around. It gets skunked. It is called that because the process produces a chemical that smells and tastes like, you guessed it, skunk.Yummy!

Avoiding skunked beer is actually quite easy – put it in a brown bottle. I go into the details of why in the column itself (linked below), but the question that screams out at you is why put your beer in clear or green bottles? The answer, of course, is marketing. Summer-oriented beers look more attractive in clear bottles. European beer distinguishes itself as “imported” by being in green. As for the taste? Hope the consumer doesn’t notice. Or, stick a lime in it to cover the skunk. Dirty secret revealed.

The column goes into more detail about the process of skunking and how you can avoid it. It is posted on the Sherbrooke Liquor Store website, which at first seems an odd location for a beer column. However, the owners are committed to increasing beer knowledge among consumers and have given me free reign to speak as I please. Read the column here.

It is the seventh in the Beer 101 series. Catch the older posts here. A new one will be published in a month.

7 comments to Beer 101: Corona’s Dirty Secret Revealed

  • Brad

    Nice article!
    However, brown bottles aren’t infallible. Prolonged light exposure–such as retail displays or bottle fridges in bars–will most certainly affect all colours of bottles. The most surefire way to prevent beer from becoming light-struck on its way to the consumer is by putting it in a can, which isn’t, in my opinion, a very enjoyable serving suggestion. Some brewers have resorted to Tetra Hop, which can provide some defence; or–heaven forbid–hardly any hops at all, which reduces the amount of active ingredient that interacts with UV light.
    Although it’s not the scope of the article, there are many many other ways brewers using all shades of bottles put marketing before quality–a few of which I’m sure you’ll go into in future Beer 101 articles.
    Keep up the excellent writing, and a refreshing unbiased perspective! Folks will be surprised, I’m sure, by some of the revelations of the favourite libation.


    • Hi Brad,

      Thanks for the comment! You are right, the brown glass doesn’t 100% stop the light from penetrating the beer (which is why we can see into it), but what I have read is that it slows the process sufficiently that the beer lasts long enough so that other staling problems become more significant, like oxidation. I hope my point was clear that beer in green or clear glass can be well-made, it just takes a lot more care to prevent skunking. If a consumer doesn’t know to be careful, there is no hope. I will definitely be talking more about the problem of marketing before quality in the beer industry in future posts.

  • The best solution of all is that if you want to use non-amber glass… just put the beer in boxes that block the light. Of course, Corona isn’t really a beer *worth* protecting…

    I once, in a contest, entered some of my beer in green bottles. The beer was submitted in a closed brown paper bag, and was kept out of light for it’s entire storage life. The reviewers still commented on the green bottles, though…

    • Joe,

      That is true, any container through which light cannot pass will protect your bottles. However, most of the green and clear bottled beer are not sold that way (as I think it it make the whole point of clear glass moot) – Stella being the exception I think.

      Boxing only partially solves the problem, as what do you do once you open the pack? For example, where does the publican store the beer while awaiting ordering?

      That said, your point is valid.



  • chiexpat

    “It is posted on the Sherbrooke Liquor Store website”

    Not any more. They go back only to 2012. Be nice if you posted it here.

  • Brian

    if you like to smoke pot, this is a GREAT flavored beer, right? AMIRIGHT? Yes. YEs, I am. I miss smoking pot, since I can’t for my job now. I love this beer. Smells like good skunk pot. Tastes just fine, a nice WEAK beer. If you want good and strong alcohol beer, get a nice indian pale ale. Otherwise, if you like pot, holy crap, this is good beer. lol.

  • Valsmell

    Absolutely Brian..
    I LOVE it …

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