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I have read that when stored in a clear container, sunlight can cause beer to skunk in a matter of seconds or minutes. I have also read that brown bottles are "better" when it comes to preventing this.

But how much better? Enough to "not worry about it" for short-term storage?

My specific situation is this: I have a (clear) glass cupboard in the living room. I also have a rotating (every few weeks or so) selection of beers, some of which are in rather nice bottles. I would like to store the bottles in said cupboard.

The bottles are brown, and the cupboard is not exposed to direct sunlight, but the room is generally well-lit. Would I be risking (or just waiting for) spoilage?

  • 4
    I'd say experimenting with a bottle is the surest way to know. I've read that regardless of color, bottles are now coated with a UV-reflective layer on the inside to help protect against skunking. But obviously, seeing as how beers continue to skunk, they're not perfect. Leave a beer in the cupboard for several days and see what happens (and let us know). – Andrew Cheong Apr 19 '14 at 21:56
  • Well, there are a few bottles on there now. Let's see how this goes. – Ernir Apr 21 '14 at 13:20
  • Are the bottles empty or filled up then? I can't really understand the question completely since English is not my mother tongue. My sincerest apologies! – Valentin Grégoire Apr 22 '14 at 14:36
  • The bottles are full. I am worried about their contents. – Ernir Apr 22 '14 at 14:46
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Certain wavelengths of light are responsible for skunking beer. I believe these are mostly in the blue and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum. Brown bottles do the best at blocking out the UV rays. This is why you can get an occasional Rolling Rock that tastes off. I've never heard of a UV reflective coating before, but it makes sense.

What follows is probably only relevant if you want to be nit-picky about this:

If it is not in direct sunlight, I'd say your pretty ok. I don't know what your lighting situation is, but I know most incandescent bulbs mostly give off infrared light (I'm not sure if infrared light has been correlated to skunking) and the modern CFL bulbs mostly give off light in the visible spectrum. I'd say both however give off some sort of UV light.

If you are really concerned, you could tint the cupboard glass. Vehicle window tint is designed to block out UV rays that can damage the interior of cars. Your level of protection depends on how dark you want your tint. If you want the highest protection though, I'd recommend a wooden cupboard.

  • Radical temperature changes (if the beers get direct sunlight) are not ideal for the longevity of beer (or wine). This is why you traditionally hear of wine/beer-cellars. @Krugmeister65 is spot on, though. – BryceH Apr 24 '14 at 13:00
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Go to the store and get Bitburger german pilsner in a can, and in a bottle. Tell me if you taste a difference. I tried that and the canned stuff is a heck of a lot better tasting than the skunked stuff in the brown glass bottle.

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I think for short term storage it shouldn't be a problem. It sounds like you're just keeping the bottles in the cupboard outside their cardboard carriers? You could always use the carriers or keep most in carriers in the back and single bottles in the front if you enjoy the appearance of the bottles.

Samuel Adams' carriers are taller for the exact reason of keeping out light, and they use brown bottles so obviously even with brown bottles light is still of some concern.

I've usually had a problem with beer tasting off if it goes from a refrigerated state to room temperature and then back in the fridge. I've noticed this happens to me more frequently than anything with light.

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No. They are not sufficient, but are one of several necessary conditions to keep beer from going bad. In general, keep beer at a cool temperature (50-60 degrees), away from light, and stand the bottle up (do not lie them sideways like wine bottles are stored). Brown bottles help keep beer away from light, but as a rule of them, store your beer someplace dark.

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There is no way to prevent skunking! Except drink it fast and drink it cold;) This is awesome!!

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