Every beer at every bar, restaurant or backyard endures an arduous journey from brewery to customer. On this journey, bottled, canned or kegged beer meets a series of touchpoints that, if mishandled, can alter its flavor from what the brewery intended. These are called beer faults.
In most commercially brewed beers, chances are, the fault is not the brewer’s, says Michelle Tham, Certified Cicerone and head of education at Labatt Breweries of Canada. Beer faults and off-flavors almost always happen after beer has been packaged and left the brewery, where it faces a series of threats that Tham refers to as “beer’s enemies: light, oxygen, heat, time and bacteria.”
The good news is that most beer faults are preventable. Learn how to spot the most common beer faults below.