Can A Hard Seltzer Get Skunked? A must read


There is nothing worse than sitting down to enjoy a nice drink but something has happened to it to make it go off. Perhaps there has been a leak, it has been left in the heat or even left in the sun. The sun is certainly a catalyst to skunk a beer but what about hard seltzers? Can a hard seltzer get skunked?

Can a hard seltzer get skunked?

“Skunking” is most commonly applied to beers. It is when the hops in the beer reacts with light to form unpleasant musty flavours. The beer needs to contain hops and be in a glass bottle. As hard seltzers do not contain hops and are in cans, they cannot be skunked.

How skunking happens, its risks and how is it avoided is actually very interesting.

What does it mean when a drink is skunked?

Skunking, otherwise know as light-strike, is a mechanism whereby the light can make a drink go bad.

Nasty, musty flavour compounds get produced when the hops is in the sunlight which can turn your drink nasty.

What drinks can be skunked?

You need to have hops in a drink for it to be skunked. Until very recently that meant one drink and one drink only… beer.

There is a growing movement to hop other drinks now so theoretically they are at risk from the light.

Some examples are…

  • Lagunitas makes Hoppy Refresher, a non alcoholic but non beer drink
  • Hop tea
  • Hop water
  • Snake River Seltzer
  • Hopster, a German drink from mineral water, tea and lemon
  • Hop soda

Despite these new additions to the hop world, in 99.9% of cases when you think of a skunked drink, it will be a beer.

How does a beer get skunked?

The bitterness in beer comes from hops, a plant. Increasing the hops in beer is all the rage these days with IPAs, double hopped, dry hopped etc all common place.

They are added to the sugary wort to crease the distinctive flavour. When boiled, hops release iso-alpha acids into the soon to be beer.

However, when the iso-alpha acids are exposed to sunlight, it breaks them down. The resulting compounds bind with proteins that contain sulfur.

The resulting new chemical is so incredibly potent and resembles to famous oder of skunks.

Like a shark and a drop of blood, people can taste it in one part in a billion!

Is drinking a skunked beer bad for you?

Your beer has turned into the same type of chemical as a skunks bum, is that still safe to drink?!

Well, believe it to not, you won’t get sick from drinking this, it will just not taste great. I’m not sure why you would want to drink more than a mouthful if it tastes so bad, but you can if you want.

How do manufactures try to stop a beer getting skunked?

Well if the aim of the game is to stop the sun coming in contact with a beer then the solution is usually simple.

You put the beer in a container where the light cant penetrate! This is usually in the form of a keg for a large volume or a can for a smaller volume.

Beer does come in glass but these tend to be darker coloured, green or brown, to try and minimise the light getting to the beer.

Overall, to avoid the issue, buy a can or a keg.

Why can hard seltzers not get skunked?

As i explained above, the critical reaction is for hops to come in contact with sunlight.

Hard seltzers (with the exception of Snake River Seltzer) do not have hops so that knocks out one side of the equation. If that wasn’t enough, they come in cans so sunlight can’t get to the liquid inside anyway.

So there is literally no chance for your hard seltzer to get skunked.

Can a hard seltzer go off?

Hard seltzers can go off if it’s not stored properly. If you leave it out of the fridge for too long, or if it gets too warm, the alcohol can start to spoil and the flavor can change. So make sure to keep your Hard seltzer cold and enjoy it fresh.

How do you know a hard seltzer is off?

Perhaps the easiest way to tell anything is off is to give it a sniff. Does it smell like you would expect? If you have ever smelt rancid meat, you know what i mean!

If it smells ok but tastes a little off, this is the next stage where you can avoid drinking any more. Perhaps there isn’t the amount of fizz you would expect there might have been a leak. If the colour is not clear or the flavours aren’t right then don’t drink any more and move on.

How should you store a hard seltzer?

The perfect temperature to store white claw is between 34-38 degrees Fahrenheit. This will keep the alcohol from spoiling and the flavor from changing. So make sure to keep your white claw cold and enjoy it fresh.

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