Mike Troy has more than 600 kinds of beer at his Gahanna bottle shop—meaning he also has just as many liabilities. The nuances of beer storage are often ignored or overlooked altogether, which is why the owner of Crafted Drafts recently tinted his shop’s windows and replaced all interior light bulbs with LEDs. We caught up with Troy on what he’s doing to protect his beers and what brew lovers can do to keep their bottles skunk free.
When it comes to beer storage, what are the most common missteps you see?
I think one of the big problems is people store beer too warm, like on a summer day and you just throw it in the car for a long time. That's a terrible, terrible, idea. Or they’ll set it out so everyone can see it, kind of on display, and light washes over it.
We know light can make beer skunky, but where does that flavor come from? What’s happening inside the bottle?
UV rays from light bulbs or the sun go in and chemically alter the beer. UV rays break down the beer, emitting that skunky smell and flavor. One of the most common examples is people believe Czech Pilsners are supposed to be skunky in flavor. They’re actually supposed to have a crisp, malty, hop flavor, not skunky. But [the beer] gets shipped and sent on boats and sits out and is ultimately blasted by the sun.
When people are shopping for beer at a bottle shop or a market, what red flags should they be looking for?
I look for a whole bunch of stuff sitting in an east-facing window, or with a nice layer of dust, meaning it’s most likely been sitting there for months. Really, you can look at a window and know. That’s a big red flag. When I go buy bottles from a grocery store, I look in the coolers to see if they have halogens or fluorescents or LEDs.
How do you know if you’re looking at a LED bulb?
It’ll be an intense, crisp light. Regular bulbs are much duller. Those are on 24/7, and people don’t know and find their beer skunky.
Does this bode well for cans in the cans-versus-bottles argument?
Cans are a great vessel for some beers. Czech Pilsners could switch to cans. Bottle color comes down to cost and tradition. Brown has provided the best protection, green and clear bottles not so much. Still, if you go outside and sit with your beer in a clear glass for an hour, it may smell like feet by the time you finish it.