Summer is here, and it’s time to enjoy a cold beer outdoors at breweries with comfortable patios like the ones found at TAPS, Bootlegger’s, or Tustin Brewing Co.
While doing so, you may notice a familiar flavor and aroma as you approach the end of your pint. Don’t worry, the brewers didn’t do it!
Lightstruck, commonly described as “skunked,” is one of the most detectible and easily identified compounds, for both the novice and expert taster.
So, what causes this? The short answer: Light can affect the hop acids in the beer. The acids are broken down, rearranged, and transform into a compound very similar to skunk spray. (Yuck!) When exposed to light, the process begins nearly instantaneously. While drinking a beer outside on a brewery patio, it may not be perceived until the end of your pint, if at all, but the process will happen.
Warning, chemistry ahead!
The detailed explanation of this process involves three key factors. They are: (1) isomerized humulone alpha acids, (2) riboflavin, and (3) light, particularly visible blue and ultraviolet.
1) Hops contain alpha acids known as humulones that provide the necessary bittering properties to beer. This is accomplished by boiling the hops during the brewing process.
2) Riboflavin is a B-vitamin naturally produced by most brewer’s yeast strains during fermentation. The higher the malt content, the higher the riboflavin in beer.
3) Visible light and UV with wavelengths from 350 to 500 nanometers.
Now that we have the suspects in custody, let’s recreate the crime.
When visible light strikes beer, the riboflavin is agitated, changing the chemical structure of the molecule. A brief series of chemical reactions then leads to production of a compound called 3-MBT, which has a structure eerily similar to skunk spray. The amount needed for human detection of one of the most recognizable off-flavors in beer is surprisingly low.
Prevention is possible by using certain hop-extract products in the brewhouse. However, these are not common and can be expensive for independent brewers. Clear or green glass bottles or growlers allow for 3-MBT development, but brown bottles or growlers do provide protection. Kegs and cans or crowlers block 100 percent of light, fully preventing this issue.
Sitting under the warm sun with your beer in a clear glass is inevitable. All you can do is understand this is a natural process and is not intended by our talented brewers in Orange County.
Bottom line: Know to expect some off-flavors if you have a beer outdoors in the sunlight. The odds are you will have a skunked beer at some point while sipping a cold one at RIIP, Bottle Logic, or Pizza Port. Yet, the hop content may be low enough to notice any lightstruck development, or you’ll finish your beer before it becomes perceptible. So, do not fear the summer sun and enjoy your locally produced beers.
The Pacific Wine and Food Classic, which made its debut last year in Newport Beach, was such a hit that this year’s weekend passes for event, Aug. 18-19, are sold out. I was smitten with the inaugural festival as it is quintessential Orange County—an array of delicious restaurants, impressive cocktails, pours of wine a plenty, and all amidst the white sand and blue skies of Newport’s Back Bay. It was such fun to mingle in flip flops and rest on the sand with wine in hand.
There are nearly 50 restaurateurs for the 2018 soiree including Ross Pangilinan of Mix Mix Kitchen Bar, Eric Samaniego of Michael’s on Naples, and Alejandra Padilla of Five Crowns and Side Door. You will not want for food. I am impressed the event producers have not only named the wineries participating but acknowledged their varietal pours as well. I’ve never had that much detail more than a month out from a festival, and the 2018 Pacific Wine and Food Classic is truly raising the bar. From Perrier Jouet Champagne to Elouan Rose, your summer festival glass will stay full and will be a great complement to the bites. New features this year include a Summer Wine Garden with chosen pairings to accompany food from SideDoor and Haute Cuisine, a Taco & Beer Lounge, and even summer gelatos and affogatos.
Single-day tickets are still available, so you’ll want to act quickly. Saturday’s admission is $115 or $149 for VIP, which garners access one hour earlier, at 1 p.m., as well as access to the waterfront VIP courtyard—think Perrier Jouet Champagne Gazebo, rum cocktails, and exclusive culinary tables. Sunday’s single tickets are $99 or $139 for VIP.
If you’re seeking a relaxed, fun summer festival, with exquisite food, wine, cocktails, and more, the 2018 Pacific Wine and Food Classic is not to be missed!
Summer is here, and the hectic sports and school schedule has been switched out for nights under the stars, lazy mornings with doughnuts, and spontaneous jaunts to the beach. I’ve been home and happy to garden, grill, and enjoy new wines. When life is so busy, I tend to buy wines I’m familiar with rather than savoring new finds. As my garden has gotten refreshed, so has my summer palate, with special attention lately to wines from the San Luis Obispo region.
I really like wines from the Central Coast and the lifestyle. The pace in San Luis Obispo feels truly slow—there’s a charm to the homes and a warmth from theresidents that beckons me. The vineyards in the Edna and Arroyo Grande valleys are nestled against the hillsides, yet just a bike ride inland from the coast, which means a cool climate and long growing season. Nearly all the vineyards there are sustainably certified, proving the communities’ respect for the health of their farms and wine product. As expected with the cool environs, the region is mostly known for its pinot noir and chardonnay. But I found some other tasty varietals well worth your Fourth of July table.
Zocker Gruner Veltliner 2016: $20
Estate grown in the Paragon Vineyard, the Niven family has nailed the higher acid and minerality of gruner veltliner. This is a great alternative to chardonnay as it drinks fresh and clean, but not as pungent as a sauvignon blanc. Available at select Vons and Whole Foods.
Peloton Pinot Grigio Spanish Springs 2016: $25
I tend to find pinot grigio a bit boring, but it sure goes down easily on a hot summer day. This wine has nice acidity and bits of zesty lemon and green apple. With the Tour de France underway, it seems perfect to pay homage to the Peloton owners’ passion for cycling. Available directly from peltoncellars.com.
Qupe Syrah Spanish Springs 2015: $35
This cool climate version of syrah by Bob Lindquist is joyous. Lindquist is an original “Rhone Ranger,” brilliantly producing a syrah in the Spanish Springs Vineyard just 1.2 miles from the ocean. This wine begs for Fourth of July barbecue and fireworks. Available directly from qupe.com.
Niner Wine Estates Pinot Noir 2016: $35
I didn’t stray too far from the wine heritage of San Luis Obispo. This Niner estate pinot is creative and character driven due to a bit of whole-cluster fermentation and a some new French Oak. It is hearty and spicy. The grapes were grown on the Jespersen Ranch Vineyard, 3 miles from the ocean. Available at select Vons, Monarch Beach Market, and San Clemente Wine Company.
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and this holds even greater credence when a popular, award-winning O.C. brewery perfectly recreates a lager from the oldest brewery in the U.S. Inspired by the classic Yuengling Traditional Lager, Green Cheek Beer Company, which celebrated its first anniversary this past weekend, brings the East Coast to the West with Potsville, an appropriately classified Pennsylvania-Style Lager. While Green Cheek is best known for Juicy/New England/Hazy IPAs and for the well-deserved silver medal for its Radiant Beauty IPA, the company also produces historically accurate and stylistically correct beers. This is especially true with lagers! While Potsville holds historical inspiration, Green Cheek has managed to permeate its own character to the beer. Potsville comes to life using open fermentation, a…View Original Post
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