I was recently in Pittsburg at a Caribbean themed restaurant called Pirata and decided to try a Pilsner from the Dominican Republic. To my complete and utter surprise, the beer was not skunked! I had given up green bottled beer in restaurants a long time ago because they were never stored properly and always had a strong skunk aroma.
Let me briefly explain without using scientific terms how beer becomes “Skunked”, since it is one of the most widely misunderstood and used term when describing bad beer. Sunlight and fluorescent lights emit a specific type of wavelength that skunks beer. The wavelength will chemically change hop acids in the beer causing a strong skunk/sulfur aroma. If you pour a beer into a glass on a bright sunny day and sit outside, your beer will become skunked in about 1 minute. A green glass bottle protects the beer from light for a whole 5 minutes. A brown bottle will block roughly 95% of the harmful wavelengths and a can of beer blocks 100% of the wavelengths. Years ago, it was considered high end to have your beer packaged in a green bottle. No one can deny that a bright green bottle looks better than an opaque brown bottle, but it’s almost a sure thing that the beer will skunked. 5 minutes after someone stocks the glass door cooler with green beer, it will be skunked. Almost all bars and restaurants that have glass case beer fridges are lit by fluorescent lights.
The best way to protect green bottle beer is to feature it on the menu but store them in a beer fridge that isn’t lit by fluorescent lights. Think of your standard open top refrigerator. Surprisingly, Pirata had a glass case beer fridge but for some reason my beer wasn’t skunked. I have a hunch that their cooler was illuminated with a different kind of light bulb.
If you want to enjoy a green bottled beer as the brewer intended, it must be carefully stored at 38° F and out of direct sunlight or fluorescent light.