Beerista Sor­cha Hamil­ton on the prob­lem of light­struck beer

The Irish Times Magazine - - FRONTLINES - SOR­CHA HAMIL­TON @ ITbeerista beerista@irish­times. com

Light­struck beer is one of the down­sides to sunny weather and drink­ing al fresco. Apart from warm­ing your pint, sun­light can also in­ter­act with cer­tain hop- bit­ter­ing com­pounds to cre­ate off- flavours.

So if you’re out in the sun en­joy­ing a par­tic­u­larly de­li­cious pint and have to leave it down for a while to flip a few burg­ers on the bar­be­cue or to run to the shop to get emer­gency ice creams, the taste might be slightly dif­fer­ent when you re­turn. It’s a lovely juicy and hoppy aroma and flavour, for ex­am­ple, might be a lit­tle skunky. And that’s when your beer’s been light­struck.

Some say this ef­fect can take place over a mat­ter of min­utes – though there’s a few dif­fer­ing opin­ions. While out in the gar­den re­cently, I no­ticed a beer start­ing to change over the course of about 20 min­utes.

But is the taste that bad? Some­times it’s bear­able but the longer it’s left in the sun, ob­vi­ously, the more in­tense the off- flavours.

Many beers are pack­aged in brown bot­tles to pro­tect against the ef­fect of sun­light ( green and clear glass do not). But one of the best ways to avoid lights-truck beer is to drink from a can – and there’s plenty of good craft ones on the shelves these days.

And Union brew­ery is based in Bavaria and their straight- up Un­fil­tered Lager comes in a strik­ingly straight- up plain white can. De­scribed as an “old school lager”, it’s quite sweet and grainy on the aroma, slightly hazy with a touch of bit­ter­ness. It’s crisp and drink­able but not quite as in­ter­est­ing as its “burst­ing with flavour” claim on the la­bel. Bru­tus, by Wick­low brew­ery O Brother, is a lit­tle more eye- catch­ing. This dou­ble IPA has plenty of piney, resinous char­ac­ter, a solid hit of bit­ter­ness and over­all is a tasty, well- bal­anced beer. And like the beardy char­ac­ter on the la­bel, at 9.1 per cent, it’s got mus­cle.

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