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I observed the following. When I was in Brazil I drank some craft beer, which I liked. I bought some bottles and took them with me to Europe. When I opened the bottles here the taste was terrible. Some months later I was revisited by my Brazilian friends who discovered some other nice beer in my town. So they took some bottles to Brazil where they made the same bad taste experience.

What happened? The bottles were transported in suitcases (stored in the cold, but not frozen store of the plane) and reached their destination closed and assumed in best condition. I do not suppose any effect of light, temperature or pressure. Even vibrations must have been low because the bottles were covered by clothing. There must have been some impact to the beer which I do not understand.

  • 2
    While it wouldn't explain great->terrible, the environment one is consuming things in can greatly affect our taste and enjoyment, sometimes a beer is just right for its time and place. . . – Eric Renouf Apr 10 '18 at 12:57
  • I don't think there is a definitive answer. Although beer is pretty sturdy and not so fragile that it can't be transported. Beer is shipped all over the world and even flown in transport airplanes. I think this is unanswerable. – farmersteve Apr 10 '18 at 14:50
  • I know the experience that different location generates different perception of taste, but in our case the flavour was very much different, rather like roasted corn than like beer. Try to cook beer and drink it warm. that's close to it. – Salt Apr 10 '18 at 15:36
  • Then at some point in transporting the beer it came under pretty high temperatures. That is typical of beer not transported in a temperature controlled environment. Craft beer can be especially susceptible to this since it's not pasteurized or stabilized like Heineken or Budweiser . – farmersteve Apr 10 '18 at 17:24
  • IPAs in particular are much better fresh. Perhaps simply age is the issue. – Eric Shain Apr 11 '18 at 1:52
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If your craft beer is unfiltered, unpasteurised beer with live yeast, then any kind of transport could alter its flavour profile.

Other variables that could effect its flavour are:

  • changes in altitude (not during flight)
  • no resting after transport (depending on yeast content up to two weeks)
  • bottling problems (oxygen in bottleneck)
  • difference between drinking and ambient temperature (e.g. beers taste different in summer and winter)
  • olfactory changes (flu, humidity, ambient smells)
  • drinking method (glass or bottle make a taste difference)
  • transporting bottles that are not so fresh (closer to their exp. date)

Pure speculation/unlikely:

  • cosmic radiation
  • altitude changes during flight irreversible

Any of the above mentioned changes in temperature as well as choosing a glass instead of a bottle etc. effect CO² in various ways. This results in a different drinking sensation (the tingling in the nose; try "smelling" the CO² and compare with a flat beer) and different taste (pH).

Humidity, climate, season could alter your perception. An imperial stout for instance takes you over the edge in summer while you would feel perfectly fine in winter.

Ambient temperature has an immense effect on the beer. It effects nearly everything from how much CO² is released upon opening the bottles to what the perfect drinking temperature is. The drinking temperature has an immense effect on how strong hops, sugars and alcohol taste.

Such changes in taste are not unheard of and more likely to occur in strong, malty beers. Flights are not necessary to have such an effect. Any long-distance transport would do.

To test if the beer has actually changed during transport, you could try transporting it back.

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