Skunked beer is a name that is particularly relevant. Beer contracts its bitterness and a lot of its taste from hops, one of the main components needed to make the delicious beverage. When brewers are cooking the wort, hops is added for preservatives and for flavor.
But if beer is exposed to sunlight, the sun’s power breaks down those iso-alpha acids from hops. The resulting compounds bind with proteins that contain sulfur. This creates a new biochemical — one that’s extremely similar in chemical structure to the one used by skunks. It’s incredibly powerful in scent and taste too. Hence the name skunked beer.
People can taste this chemical at one part per billion. To put this in perspective, if you filled an Olympic-sized swimming pool with beer, one eyedropper of this stuff would change the way it tasted. I will take their word for it, I will not test this myself.
So treat your beer properly, keep it cool and out of sunlight. If you end up with skunked beer, you can drink it, but we recommend grabbing new beer.