Lightstruck Saisons

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Robtobfest, Mar 1, 2016.

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  1. hopfenunmaltz

    hopfenunmaltz Meyvn (1,466) Jun 8, 2005 Michigan

    I have never seen that studied. It seems many can't differentiate sulfur aromas.
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  2. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I've been suspecting that and/or that many don't really know what the term "skunked" refers to. As I mentioned elsewhere I've had more than one person try to convince me that Heineken from the keg is skunked and they must do that at the brewery. :slight_smile:
  3. cambabeer

    cambabeer Meyvn (1,205) Dec 29, 2010 New York
    Fest Crew Society Trader

    Really? I won't argue because you sound like you know, but I'm pretty sure light-struck beer has altered flavor as well... maybe I've lost my mind?
  4. hoptualBrew

    hoptualBrew Defender (616) May 29, 2011 Florida

    I agree completely, one of the best Saison experiences I ever had was a slightly skunked bottle of DuPont.
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  5. HopHunter19

    HopHunter19 Defender (657) May 2, 2015 Missouri

    I think beers an art form and a flavor that's "not supposed to be there" is subjective. My grandpa drinks lagers from local breweries in Pittsburgh and he always picks the ones that have a tiny bit of skunk/funk to them. Since he drank those when I was growing up I still like the occasional slightly skunky/funky light beer because it reminds me of that. Of course I also love a dank ass ipa or bba stout.
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  6. Boomer4ES

    Boomer4ES Disciple (309) Jan 31, 2012 North Carolina

    Yes, really. It is often categorized as an off-flavor. However, almost always, it is referred to as an undesired aroma and no mention is made of taste association. This is difficult to interpret due to how closely our scent and taste are related. It is very easy to "taste" so-called skunkiness because it is such a powerful smell. In fact, this defect only affects the smell of a beer.
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  7. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee Meyvn (1,454) Jul 10, 2011 Virginia

    I always have several bottles of Dupont tucked away...out of the light. I usually have some fresh and with age, but am not interested in any of the skunked profile. I was very pleased when they went to the brown bottle and wish it was universal.
  8. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    A few notes from our (Mystic's) experiments with green bottles:
    • We blind taste amber bottle Saison Renaud vs green bottle on visiting restaurant/food industry people all the time. 70% have preferred the green bottle.
    • The idea that lightstruck = skunk is simplistic (and likely comes from the fact that it is that simplistic in pilsners)
    • In a beer with more going on (spice, fruit, wheat, etc.) a lot more seems to happen.
    • Renaud in green bottles is not just a little skunky. It's also remarkably more aromatic and crisp--in fact it actually seems dryer and more in line with expectations for european (green bottle) saisons.
    • The likely reason for the last point is that flavors and aromas don't work in a simple on/off manner. The addition new flavor factors can increase, eliminate, or change the perception of other flavors.
    • With a lot of light and age they go downhill. But, we've put one in the direct sun all day when fresh and it was fantastic.
    • Since the amount of light vs age is not something the brewer can control we only sell green bottle Renaud at the tap room and its behind the counter at Deep Ellum.
    • As a matter of pure personal opinion, ingrained German lager brewing rules should not be applied to farmhouse and wild ales!
    Founder and Brewer, Mystic
  9. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Bryan, thanks for your post! It has a lot of interesting/intriguing content!!

    Can you please expound upon the effects of lightstruck for the case of Saison beers? What specific flavors are generated as part of the lightstruck process? Do you perceive some aroma/flavor of skunk? If so, does this aspect of skunk come across as complementary to the other flavors vs. being perceived as an off flavor?

    Any more information/impressions you can provide on this topic would be most appreciated.


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  10. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (974) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It would be even better out of a clear bottle, displayed in the cooler by the window, under fluorescent lighting.
  11. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    The common off-flavors, research, and rules that are drilled into us were all defined with fizzy adjunct lager in mind. Many so called off-flavors can be positives in the right proportions in certain styles.
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  12. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Please inform us here. Which specific flavors?

  13. MarioM

    MarioM Initiate (0) Sep 13, 2009 California

    I completely 100% agree with the OP, but I have a very strange taste when it comes to my saisons... That skunky light struck character in Saison Dupont really IS amazing and is disapointing to me when not present.

    I was also going to post a link to this from JK's website but you beat me, Lol. But this is why Jester King is one of my favorite breweries. I thought I was crazy to bottle my home brewed saisons in ONLY green bottles until I came across this article from JK.
  14. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    The amount of true "skunk" entirely depends on the hop dosage, the variety, type of green bottle (there are a few), pH, time of exposure to light, type of light, age, yeast presence, water chemistry, and even grain quality.

    I don't typically don't get the same kind of stink that is found in a lightstruck lager. Which I am not a fan of at all. I agree that is an off-flavor in that well as for most styles of beer. In certain cases you can make out "skunk" but the composition of classic saisons blends it out nicely. But more seems to be happening.

    What that "more" is is pure speculation. But we know that the classic skunk component, 3-MBT, is formed by radical chemistry. From the name alone you might expect a bit more than one reaction to be happening. Radical chemistry is a bit chaotic. The stinky part (the sulfur) in 3-MBT doesn't even come from the hops. Light is brutal. Long story short, lots of reactions with things that are not sulfur may be creating other volatiles that don't stink and in fact may be similar to light citrus and floral aromatics. This would create a 'fresh' effect that would explain the strange development of crispness and counteract sweet malt aromatics to make the beer seem more dry.
  15. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Yes the chemistry to create the skunk aroma/flavor (the compound 3-MBT) is a reaction of three aspects: hops (isohumulone), light (the energy source) and riboflavin:

    “The bittering agent generated from hops while boiling beer wort is a compound called isohumulone. Ultraviolet light can degrade isohumulone all by itself. But it turns out that visible light can also induce isohumulone degradation — it just needs a helper molecule, in the form of riboflavin. Once the proverbial ball starts rolling (or, in this case, the electrons start hopping), a series of reactions take place that eventually produce the compound 3-methylbut-2-ene-1-thiol. That mouthful, known colloquially as 3-MBT, is your skunk.”


  16. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (974) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I like beers that are not light struck, that have been well stored, and are consumed as the brewer intended them to be. Oxygen and light are bad for all beer. Beers change for many reasons, but are generally best fresh. I do love vintages of JW Lees and some stouts and imperial stouts.
  17. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    Oxygen and light are bad for all beer for what reason? Many barrel aged beers and European saisons, not to mention the highest rated lambics on this site do not seem to agree with that statement.
  18. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (974) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    When stored in original containers. Once opened, many beers are like wine and improve with air. I cannot think how light helps any beer in any way, can you? By the way, my original post was very sarcastic.
  19. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Zealot (541) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    Jester King agrees the recently switched to green bottles for this reason there was an article somewhere about it
  20. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Since there's more than one way to do it, can you provide a bit more information about how the blind tastings are conducted? Thanks in advance.
  21. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

  22. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    Oxidation is part of barrel aging dark beers. I explained in this thread how light can specifically help saison. Cheers!
  23. rgordon

    rgordon Savant (974) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Well, you can illuminate your saisons, I'll keep mine dark and cool. I like them fresh and young, with a slight chill. Each to his own.
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  24. Groenebeor

    Groenebeor Initiate (0) Feb 14, 2009 California

    These are the same goofballs that age hefeweizens in oak, no?
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  25. jRocco2021

    jRocco2021 Disciple (303) Mar 13, 2010 Wisconsin

    I'm firmly in favor of skunked saison DuPont I much prefer that version to the non skunked brown bottle version. I'm not a fan of that character in other beers with few exceptions, saison DuPont being one.

    So no OP I don't think your crazy.
  26. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Zealot (541) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    Haven't had a lot of their beers but they do make quality!
  27. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Devotee (421) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    I think it's brown for 33cl and green for 75cl. It could be that's exactly what they want, but it could also be that a small brewery might not have much choice of glass, and have to go with what's available (and prevailing).
  28. Texasfan549

    Texasfan549 Poo-Bah (2,471) Feb 26, 2011 Texas

    @jesterkingbeer feels the same way as you do!
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  29. HopBobby

    HopBobby Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2016 Texas

    I just hope Heineken doesn't make Lagunitas start "light striking" their beers in green bottles!
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  30. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Have you tasted the two 'versions'? The brown 33cl and the green 75cl? If so. do you have a personal preference here? If Dupont had a preferred way to 'present' these beer why would they have differing colors for the two sizes of beers? Certainly a brewery can dictate the color of their beer bottles, don't you think?

  31. Ranbot

    Ranbot Champion (876) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    @Chlodwig23 I appreciate you joining in and defending the position that light struck saisons can be better. I would like to repeat the question @JackHorzempa posed above because I don't think you answered him specifically about the flavors of "skunk" you stated earlier. I am very familiar with the odor of skunked beer, but not with the flavor and I would very much like to learn. Cheers!
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (1,851) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    "0724 Lightstruck (aka skunky, sunstruck)" is listed as "Relavance: OT = Odor, Taste" in Meilgaard, Dalgliesh & Clapperton's BEER FLAVOURTERMINOLOGY.

    I agree that the odor of a lightstruck beer is the dominant aspect.
  33. counciloak

    counciloak Initiate (0) Aug 28, 2015 Indiana

    I've enjoyed my share of skunky St Pauli Girl, and Grolsch. I used to like them for the fact that they had this flavor. Although, at the time, I liked all things skunky, and didn't realize that this was an imperfection in the beer. I haven't had one in several years. Maybe it's time to revisit
  34. Chlodwig23

    Chlodwig23 Initiate (92) May 14, 2009 Massachusetts

    Since there are only 5 known things you actually taste (Sweet, salty, bitter, sour, umami), all other perceived flavors actually come from the sense of smell in combination with taste. 3-MBT is a very light molecule so you detect it mostly in the aroma.

    Other compounds are slightly heavier and can be both in the aroma and flavor, yet others are even heavier and are only detected in the flavor. In any case, "flavor" is created when things evaporate while you are consuming them. This is why wine people (and some beer people) do that slurping thing when they evaluate.

    So, 3-MBT comes from a small (light in weight) parts of hop humulones which break off and react with sulfur to form 3-MBT. That is one well defined reaction and studied primarily in the context of a lager recipe. Also 3-MBT is very very potent so its was quite easy to study. It's far more of an unknown as to what other compound are formed in the very different background of saisons. However, many molecules of this size are 'fresh' notes, so the flavor, hypothetically created would be likely citrus and floral (due to undefined but likely chemistry). And this is the flavor many (but not all) people get. More aromatic and dry. Personally, in the classic saison i think you get more pronounced lemon and pepper which is where that typical characteristic may have come form.
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  35. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,152) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Just so I am understanding this properly, you are stating that as part of the exposure to light via the green glass that flavors of “citrus and floral” are created? These flavors of “citrus and floral” are not present in the Saisons that are bottled in amber bottles?

  36. Harlan_Pepper

    Harlan_Pepper Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2014 Indiana

    At least in that case, Heineken offers cans. If they wanted to switch Lagunitas to green bottles, that's fine with me as long as they make cans available.
    HopBobby likes this.
  37. ManforallSaisons

    ManforallSaisons Devotee (421) Mar 20, 2008 Belgium

    I don't so think -- or rather, I don't assume. I haven't thought to ask this in Tourpes -- perhaps they wish they could do Corona-style clear bottles -- but as there are few bottling in 25/33s in anything but brown, in 75s in anything but green, I'm sure that for at least some breweries here, it's been a choiceless choice.

    Personally, enjoy the beer how you like it, and it's not something dependent on being super hoppy, but I probably wouldn't mention any of this to the brewers if you ever meet 'em...
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  38. southdenverhoo

    southdenverhoo Disciple (383) Aug 13, 2004 Colorado

    They couldn't even if they wanted to. Magee controls Lagunitas.
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  39. chinabeergeek

    chinabeergeek Meyvn (1,319) Aug 10, 2007 Massachusetts

    personal preferences and biases between one individual and another do obviously play a part here. given my travels in china and mexico, where green and clear bottles are often "warehoused" out in the open sun, i have a particular aversion to "skunkiness" in beer. this includes when i was introduced to saison dupont (and craft beergeekdom generally) AFTER my learned dislike of skunk, and why i always hated having to buy it off the shelf (i would eventually only buy it direct from the case/box it was distributed in). what @Chlodwig23 brings up however, is very intriguing, and am at least open to the idea that other chemical reactions can occur which can give a sensation of improvement to a drinker. i am also happy to hear that they only offer it under strictly controlled conditions, so that the guessing game doesn't fall upon the retailers and consumers. in any case, i'll try to stop by mystic sometime soon. @Chlodwig23 - do i need to make an appointment if i want to try a blind tasting?
  40. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,330) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I really liked this thread. This website gets very caught up with certain wisdoms and opinions... and the result is that differing ideas sometimes have a hard time surfacing. Kudos to @Robtobfest for going out on a limb and to @Chlodwig23 for adding a professional perspective. I have no thoughts on my own preferences. I've really enjoyed many saisons in green bottles and brown bottles, and I've never noticed a lightstruck quality in any of them... but that doesn't mean that that quality was present or not. The thing that I find interesting is the examination of the conventional wisdom. Often you hear about cases where old methods of doing things are replaced with newer methods... and a certain quality gets lost in the transition. This can be done knowingly, or unintentionally due to a quality that wasn't yet pinpointed or appreciated. Is the high reputation of Dupont partially due to characteristics brought on by green bottles? It's certainly possible even if in a small way. If so, (putting personal preferences aside) that line of thinking upends some conventional wisdom to a certain extent. It's all very interesting and welcome food for thought even if it turns out to be much ado about nothing.
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