When Did The Use Of Brown Beer Bottles Rise?
Initially, brewers used glass because it was believed to be the best material for keeping liquids fresh for a long time. However, they later discovered that clear glass was not suitable for beer. Beer in clear glass bottles would quickly turn sour when exposed to sunlight, resulting in an unpleasant taste and smell. This signaled the need for a change.
After conducting extensive research on why beer spoiled quickly in glass bottles, scientists found that ultraviolet (UV) rays were responsible for the damage. These rays destroyed hop-derived acids, leading to skunky beer. We will discuss this further later in the article.
In the 1930s, green bottles were also popular, and people did not recognize any other color. Manufacturers even added chemicals to make the bottles greener. However, scientists discovered that green glass caused skunking or breakdown of the beer due to sunlight. People also noticed a change in the taste of the beer.
On the other hand, scientists realized that brown bottles were better at preventing harmful UV rays from destroying the beer. Studies showed that riboflavin, when exposed to bright conditions, could react with alpha acids and produce unpleasant odors. This reaction is known as “skunking.” Therefore, most beers are now packaged in brown bottles to prevent this chemical reaction. This led to the rise in popularity of brown bottles in the beer manufacturing industry.
However, after World War II, the supply of European brown bottles decreased due to high demand, and brewers started using green glass bottles. That’s why you can still find beers in green bottles today.
What Exactly Is The Photochemical Effect Of Light On Beer?
Earlier, we mentioned that brown bottles are great for blocking out sunlight, but you may be wondering how light exactly affects beer. This effect is known as the photochemical effect of sunlight or UV light on beer. The flavor of beer is directly associated with its ingredients and can be affected by various factors throughout the brewing process.
Even after packaging and storage, the flavor of beer continues to change dramatically, especially when exposed to light and heat. Heat increases the oxidation rate of elements in beer, resulting in flavors like “cardboard,” “wet paper,” or “sherry-like.”
Exposure to light leads to offensive aromas and flavors known as “skunk-like,” “catty,” or “lightstruck.” Over time, the taste of beer diminishes and may become flat, with bitterness turning sweet and a toffee-like palate becoming noticeable.
Light can negatively affect beer, especially high-energy light with shorter wavelengths. Light with a wavelength of 380 nm has more energy than light with a wavelength of 500 nm.
Is The Taste Of Brown Bottled Beers Better?
Well, trust us when we say that you will prefer beer in a brown bottle. We are not praising these types of beers, but it’s the truth. Everyone wants the best flavor from their beer, and a skunky beer is a major turn-off. While both green and brown bottles help filter out light, aluminum cans completely block it.
So why do we say that beer in a brown bottle tastes better than beer in a green or white bottle?
Most beers are exposed to visible light with a wavelength between 400-500 nm and UV light below 400 nm, rather than laser beams. Brown bottles can block light below 500 nm, while green bottles can only block light under 400 nm. This explains why beers in green bottles, like Carlsberg and Heineken, can have an off taste.
White glass provides zero protection, green glass offers 20% protection, and brown glass offers 98% protection against both visible and UV light. We all want the flavors in our beers to be enjoyable and noticeable. Losing some flavors due to the photochemical effect of light degrades the overall taste experience.
To protect beers from sunlight damage, brewers opted for dark brown bottles to ensure that the final product reaches consumers without compromise, maintaining freshness and flavor. Beers in brown bottles are not only in good condition and fresh, but also appealing to consumers. Furthermore, these beers guarantee quality standards.
If you’ve been drinking beer with flavors similar to musky skunk juices, it’s time for a change. If you want freshness and great flavors, brown bottles do a better job of preventing other compounds from reacting with the beer.
While beers can also be stored in green bottles, they are less affected by UV rays when packaged in brown bottles. The decision to use brown bottles was based on the recognition of a problem that prevented beer lovers from enjoying the best taste of their drinks.
Opting for brown bottles was an impressive solution because the darker color effectively blocks out rays that can alter the original flavors of beer. The preference for brown bottles in the beer industry is rooted in science, chemistry, and physics.