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How Does a Beer Get Skunky?

Isohumulones (also known as alpha acids), the bitter compounds in hops used in beer, are very sensitive to natural light, which triggers a chemical reaction. This process produces MBT (3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol), which not only smells like skunk, it’s also chemically very similar to the noxious compound in a skunk’s spray. And it’s potent. Some people can detect MBT at concentrations as low as one-billionth of a gram in a 12-ounce beer.
-- Nicole Solis and Jen Wheeler

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