In some of the questions on this site, I've seen the word 'skunking' thrown around. What does it mean? I'm assuming it's a process that causes beer to go bad, and if so, what causes this process?


Skunking is a stage in a beer's life in which it goes rancid. It may smell funny, almost like a skunk, and taste bad. As John pointed out, it is generally caused by excess exposure to light. Beers packaged in clear (Corona and Land Shark for instance) or green bottles are particularly susceptible to this. It is best to avoid these kinds of beers to avoid the risk of skunked beer; choose beer bottled in brown bottles or cans, which are less susceptible to light exposure.

  • 2
    How long does it take? Days? Weeks? Months?
    – Tom Medley
    Jan 21 '14 at 21:48
  • 1
    In some studies, it can happen as quick as 30 seconds. But it's really dependent on a number of factors such as bottle and brew type. Jan 23 '14 at 16:05

Some of the mocelues in the beer are broken down by ultraviolet light and bind to sulfur atoms. This causes Skunking. This is why some bottle six packs have a tall sleeve and beer keeps longer in a darker colored bottle. A common misperception is warming and cooling over and over again causes Skunking.

  • 3
    What is it though?
    – wax eagle
    Jan 21 '14 at 21:38

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.