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Nov 17, 2009 01:44 PM

can I unrefrigerate beer or will it go skunky?

we had a HUGE party and no one drank any of the beer we bought. My hubby moved it from the cooler to the fridge right after the party. But Thanksgiving is approaching and I need the space in the small fridge for things like....oh say the turkey! So if I take it out and let it get warm again will it go bad? Its some good beer like Leffe Blonde and some german stouts.... please help! Thanks!!

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  1. Sunlight is more of a problem for skunked beer then the heat issue although you want to take care of both by putting the beer in a dark cool place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: burntwater

      Just to build on this reply a bit- 'skunky' is definitely an issue with light struck beer. There is a very specific compound in the thiol family (found commonly in a skunk's spray) that will result when isomerized alpha acids from the hops come into contact with ultraviolet light. It's unmistakable if you've ever smelled real skunk spray, but should not be present in your beer if it has been protected from the light.

      There are other smells, off flavors, etc. that people will refer to as 'skunky' though, which can be temperature sensitive, and a beer with them will seem 'off'. Technically it's not skunked but IF a beer normally has trace amounts of DMS (corn-like, or cabbagey or other vegetables) or oxidation (cardboard or sherry qualities), and IF it has been subject to very high heat those trace amounts will become prominent, and even positively reeking. Think Moosehead in the 1980's, which often had the trifecta of skunk, DMS and oxidation, often from sitting in hot warehouses and then exposed to light in stores- nasty, unforgettable stuff.

      Bottom line, though, is that normal temperature swings will be just fine. It is at the extremes that things will get dicey.

    2. We've done that many times before and just used the beer as quickly as possible afterward. Never been a problem.

      1. 'Skunky' is a very misunderstood concept for most casual beer drinkers (I've heard people describe beers with a beautiful hop aroma as 'skunky').
        The only way for a beer to become 'skunky' is if it is light struck.

        In short...The beer will probably be fine, if consumed within a reasonable amount of time before other spoilage takes place. Most Americans drink their beer so cold that any minor defects would probably go un-noticed during this period.
        Other spoilage can take place, but it happens with age (unless the beer is very strong and very hoppy...these factors actually provide a preservative factor).

        Just keep the beer in a reasonably cool place and it'll be fine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: The Professor

          Hops might provide a preservative factor, but hop compounds can oxidize ( heavily hopped beers are more susceptible to this) giving the beer a grassy/metallic/caramel flavor.

          Interesting quote from Hugh Sisson - the brewmaster at Clipper City:

          "...because of the nature of the dark malt in darker beers, there is a good resistance to oxidation. Dark beers could be dated a hell of a lot longer than they are. One of the things that people don’t understand is that the most delicate beer we make is the Loose Cannon because of all the hops that are in it. The hop compounds will oxidize quite quickly and that’s kind of counterintuitive. Many people think IPA’s will wear like iron. Guess what, they’re wrong."