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From what point in the brewing process do you need to be concerned about light skunking the beer? Only after the fermentation has started? Or right from the start?

From doing a bit of research on the net, it seems even a short period of light can cause the beer to skunk, but obviously you need some light for seeing what you are doing during the brewing and bottling process. I try not to do any of this during the day (so I'm only using artificial lights), but the exposure for this short a period even something I should be concerned about?

Also, as I'm brewing this in a garage with windows, I've ended up putting a large wooden barrel over top of my brewing container to block out the light completely during the fermentation process. Is this a reasonable approach?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Protecting the beer while fermenting is a good idea. In theory, the "danger" time would begin as soon as you have created some isomerized hop acids in the boil. As those are the compounds that skunk.

That being said, skunking is a time dependent process. So your beer can take a hit of light during racking and bottling and probably be unnoticeable. I wouldn't bottle in heavy sunlight at noon!

In all the years I have been brewing I have brewed in a garage an on my patio in the broad daylight. I have never had a beer that was skunked.

So no worries, focus on other areas of concern.

Cheers

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In all the years I have been brewing I have brewed in a garage an on my patio in the broad daylight. I have never had a beer that was skunked.

I would echo these sentiments, I have certainly tasted skunked commercial beer, however this was always due to packaging in clear bottles. At a home brew level, if you are using brown bottles and fermenting in some sort of dark area it is really not going to be an issue.

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...this is probably better as a comment to brewchez's answer than a second answer –  STW Feb 1 '11 at 21:47
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