Green beer bottles are a symbol of some top-quality modern beers. However, the bottle color has little to do with the brand value of the beer.
Breweries prefer dark bottles like brown and green because they prevent the beer from direct light contact, which can turn the beer skunky. Here is all you need to know about green bottles for beer.
What Are the Reasons Behind Green Beer Bottles?
Green bottles are used to store beer because they do not easily let in light, which might lead to off-flavors in the beer. Using light-colored bottles can affect the quality of the content, so manufacturers have decided to use dark-colored ones instead.
Beers are one of the oldest and cheapest drinks in the world, after water and tea. They are also one of the most widely consumed drinks, and every country and region has its beer version.
Have you ever wondered why most beers come in green glass bottles or brown bottles in most countries? Why do most beer brands swear by these two specific dark colors? There is a very scientific reason behind this, and it was not a random decision on a whim. This choice of color happened after years of research. Let us learn what these reasons are.
- Beer stored in transparent glass or light-colored bottles absorbs light much faster. Once they absorb light, beer can go bad very quickly and become undrinkable.
- When stored in light-colored bottles, beer absorbs light and can start smelling and tasting “skunky.” It refers to a rotten or abnormal pungent smell of any product that has gone bad. It is primarily used in reference to beers. The more scientific and specific term for it is “lightstruck.” This is the more formal word used by brewers to talk about the beer exposed to strong light.
- Not only does the beer become skunky, it also falls flat, and the fizz and kick are lost when stored in light-colored bottles.
But beer bottles were not always green or brown. During the time when most people did not know the importance of colored bottles, they packed and sold beer in any available glass bottles. When commercial beer brewing began, the importance of colored bottles became prominent.
People started to understand the reason behind it, becoming a matter of global change. Now, most popular beer companies swear by green or other dark-colored beer bottles no matter how expensive or cheap their beer is.
– History Behind Colored Beer Bottles
Beer is a pre-historic drink known as one of the oldest alcoholic drinks in the world. Back in those days, people did not know that beer could be stored. They used to brew beer in large pots and share them in different kinds of kegs. Glass bottles were a much later addition in the 19th Century. When people initially wanted to store and transport beer and increase its shelf life, they started adding hops.
After the discovery of hops usage in beer, the need to increase the shelf life of beers increased even further. This was when glass bottles began to be used. Once sealed in bottles with reduced contact with air, the shelf life increased. But with further scientific research, brewers realized that non-colored glass bottles were not very effective in storing beers. This was because transparent and light-colored bottles absorbed light, making the beer skunky.
This was when brewers turned to dark-colored beer bottles. The first wave started with brown bottles, followed by green bottles. Moreover, scientists realized that hops are not light-resistant. They undergo chemical changes when they come in contact with sunlight or other bright lights.
Hops go through a photooxidation reaction when they come in contact with light, leading to a new chemical formation in beer, the 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol. This compound’s formation is why beer starts having that skunky and horrible smell when it goes bad.
– Discovery of Colored Beer Bottles
It is very hard to find a transparent beer bottle in the present beer industry (other than an occasional Corona light). But this was not an overnight change. After the scientists realized that hops react with intense light, they experimented with different colored beer bottles. It has been a topic of debate that green or brown colored bottles reduce the appeal of beer bottles, but it is all for scientific reasons.
Another reason why colored beer bottles were discovered is that beer is majorly a summer drink. Most beer lovers tend to drink it out in the sun. Though this seems like a great idea to cool the summer heat, this is not the best for the beer taste.
Hence, colored beer bottles can help prevent the beer from reacting with sunlight, even when taken outside on hot summer days. This change helped retain the original taste of beer and helped sustain it as a beach and outdoor drink.
– History of the Green Beer Bottle
Green beer bottles started being produced during World War II. The first choice of beer bottle color was brown before the green bottles. But during the World War, manufacturers and beer brewers were going through a crisis due to a shortage of supplies and high demand for brown bottles. They then decided to experiment with other dark-colored beer bottles to fill in the gap in the market.
During this period, many beer giants came to the conclusion that they were not ready to sell their premium beers in clear glass bottles and let them turn unpleasant. This was when they agreed on the green bottles.
After the brown beer bottles, the green bottles are the most non-reactive with strong light. That is one of the biggest reasons why premium and high-quality beer started being associated with green bottles.
This started acting as a status symbol for some brewers, who have since hung on to the green color. This includes popular beer brands like the Grolsch beer bottles, Heineken, or even Carlsberg green bottles.
– History of the Brown Beer Bottle
Though green glass beer bottles are really popular at present and many beer giants swear by them, you will be surprised to know that brown bottles were the first choice for many.
After a lot of research, scientists agreed that the dark brown beer bottles were the most non-reactive with strong light. The brown bottles were the most effective in stopping the UV light from penetrating the bottles and affecting the taste and smell of beer.
In the early days, brown beer bottles were the only option for all brewers. But after the World War crisis, the color of beer bottles diversified. There are many old-school brewers who still swear by the brown bottles. But at present, many craft brewers and experimenters also serve beer in dark blue bottles.
– Current Situation of Coloured Beer Bottles
The current scene has changed a lot for the beer industry. The color of the beer bottles has become a symbol of the brand, and it is not just about the effects of light anymore.
With the advancement of research, scientists and brewers have found genetically modified new hop varieties. These hops are light stable and do not react with strong light. This is why big brands like Corona and Miller can serve their beer in transparent glass bottles.
How Does the Color of the Beer Bottle Affect the Beer Taste?
The color of the glass beer bottle affects the taste of beer in many ways, especially when it comes to letting in light. Light-colored bottles let in lots of light, while dark-colored ones keep the beer fresh and in optimal condition.
When the color of the bottle is light or transparent, it absorbs a lot of light and makes the beer fall flat and loses its punch. The darker the color of the beer bottle, the better chance the beer has of retaining its original taste and aroma.
To not let the beer be lightstruck and go “skunky,” almost smelling and tasting like a skunk spray, beer must be stored in dark bottles.
– Why Is Corona in a Clear Bottle?
After the advancement of science, researchers discovered light-stable hops which do not easily react with strong light, which made it possible for brands like Corona and Miller to serve their beer in transparent bottles.
Even when scientific history says that beer stays best in green or brown bottles, these light-stable hops keep the beer fresh and good. This is why modern high-quality beers can be sold in colourless bottles.
– Why Is Beer Stored in Dark Bottles?
Beer is popularly stored in dark bottles to help retain the original taste and fragrance of the contents inside. Dark bottles are the most non-reactive with strong UV rays and help increase the average shelf life of beer.
– Why Does Heineken Use Green Bottles?
When green bottles were first used to store and sell beer, they were associated with premium, high-quality beer, which was when brands like Heineken and Carlsberg started using green bottles.
Over time, this concept began to lose its value. At present, they use it for branding and aesthetic purposes only.
Even though beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, the reason behind the colored glass bottles was unknown to many. Today we learned much about why beer is stored and sold in green bottles. Let us now sum up why this happens.
- Back in historical times, beer was stored in transparent bottles. Later, brewers realized that the transparent bottles absorb light, which reacts with the hops and makes the beer taste skunky.
- Light-colored bottles let in lots of light, while dark-colored ones keep the beer fresh and in optimal condition.
- The green beer bottles were introduced at a moment of crisis and shortage of brown beer bottles during World War II.
- The first colored bottle that came into being was the brown beer bottle because the brown color was said to be the most non-reactive with light.
- In contemporary times, scientists have discovered light-stable hops that do not react with strong UV rays. This is why beer brands like Corona can now sell their beer in clear bottles.
If you are wondering how the color of beer bottles affects the taste of the drink, try out beers from different colored bottles to find out the answer.
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