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Life Under the Sun$
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Peter A. Ensminger

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300088045

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300088045.001.0001

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Light and Beer

Light and Beer

(p.95) 8 Light and Beer
Life Under the Sun

Pete A. Ensminger

Yale University Press

Considering the great panoply of chemicals and chemical reactions that occur in beer, this chapter provides an insight into the chemistry and mechanism of sunstruck reaction, and its contribution to beer skunkiness. The sunstruck reaction involves photolysis of iso-alpha acid and the combination of one fragment with sulfur to form foul-smelling prenyl-mercaptan whenever beer is exposed to light. Mercaptan causes skunkiness in beer. The presence of alpha and beta acids in hop plants varies in accordance with hop variety and the environment in which the plant is grown. Brewing and transforming alpha acids into iso-alpha acids, a constituent contributing to beer bitterness, is described along with photochemical conversion of beta acids to alpha acids.

Keywords:   sunstruck reaction, iso-alpha acid, hop plant, prenyl-mercaptan, bitterness in beer, mercaptan, skunkiness

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