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Eat & Drink

Toronto startup seeks to end skunky patio beer

Posted by Ben Johnson / June 12, 2014

bru v glass beerAs we enter patio season in Toronto, we like to think that there is no more natural pairing in the world than sunshine and beer. The truth is, it's not actually a match made in heaven. In fact sunlight, or more specifically its UV rays, is precisely the thing that can give beer that skunky taste that can totally harsh your patio buzz, bro.

Thankfully, there's BRU-V, a Toronto startup looking to save our patio beers one glass a time. Their product, essentially a brown pint glass, isn't exactly ground-breaking technology, but its simplicity might just be its genius. Why, the company's founders wonder, is such an effort made to keep beer from sunlight through most of its life, only to expose it to light for the last leg of it's journey, i.e. from the tap to your suckhole?

And so BRU-V incorporates the same technololgy that's been employed in amber-brown beer bottles for hundreds of years in an effort to keep (science content alert) riboflavin from reacting with and breaking down the isohumulones in beer, creating 3-MBT, a molecule which is similar chemically to the odour that skunks use for self defense.

In short, it keeps your beer fresh.

Founded by Ian Ritchie, who has a background in finance, Michale Mavian, a graphic designer from Toronto, and Alan Wood, an avid homebrewer who has worked at both Trafalgar Ales & Meads and at Cameron's Brewery in Oakville, BRU-V is launching their product as so many beer-related enterprises seem to be doing these days, through a kickstarter campaign.

"We are starting out as a grass-roots movement," Wood tells me of the decision to go the kickstarter route. "Bars are starting to show off how recently they've cleaned their lines, and I think this is something that really excites people who drink good beer," he says of the company's hopes that better tasting beer will be a draw for potential customers.

When I expressed disbelief that people actually take so long to drink their beer that it turns skunky, it wasn't anything Wood hadn't heard before. "This is perhaps our biggest challenge," he said of my doubts. "We need people to try our product first-hand. They will notice a significant difference in the taste and smell of their beer within 30 seconds. The chemical reaction happens incredibly fast, which is why our glass is so relevant."

What do you think? Are amber glasses the next patio fixture in Toronto?

Ben Johnson also writes about beer over on Ben's Beer Blog. Follow him on twitter @Ben_T_Johnson.



CaligulaJones / June 12, 2014 at 01:53 pm
If your beer is getting skunky that quickly on a patio, you are obviously not drinking at the right patio...
Ray / June 12, 2014 at 02:05 pm
So what I'm supposed to tell a server that I want to return my pint because this technology tells me my beer is skunky? I'm sure most servers would reget this.

I've drank on patios for decades and never experienced a skunky TASTING beer. It's about a taste not a technology.
Alan Wood replying to a comment from CaligulaJones / June 12, 2014 at 02:06 pm
Beer will become lightstruck, more commonly known as "skunky" with exposure to any natural light - UV happens to be one of the strongest. Personally, I love sitting on a patio that is sunny and light! Would love to get you try our glass.
Alexander replying to a comment from Alan Wood / June 12, 2014 at 02:10 pm
Maybe address the question? How long exactly does it take for beer to get skunky? If you are sitting on a patio for two hours with the same beer, you're doing it wrong. This is yet another useless product invented to solve a problem that doesn't exist.
nb / June 12, 2014 at 02:15 pm
This seems really silly. I've never had a beer go skunky in the sun on a patio, and i like to see the colour of the beer I'm drinking. Count me in the "don't get it" group.
Alan Wood replying to a comment from Alexander / June 12, 2014 at 02:18 pm
Check out our website or Kickstarter page if you want more information regarding the science. It is a chemical reaction, and happens instantly. Within 10-20 seconds there will be a marked difference in taste and smell. The hoppier the beer, the larger the reaction and more noticeable it will be. We are more than happy to guarantee and stand by our product with a 100% blind taste test record. Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions.
Jimjackson / June 12, 2014 at 02:20 pm
Perhaps a seasonal product which can be used for max 3 months of the year when the weather is hot and sunny
Harrison / June 12, 2014 at 02:23 pm
I have had a ton of skunky beer at bars outside so I love this! Great concept and can't wait to try it for myself soon. Just ordered a twin pack.
Peterpan / June 12, 2014 at 02:24 pm
Surely the light reaction will impact he taste of the beer through the top/head of the pint??? Useless unless the whole vessel is enclosed.
Julie / June 12, 2014 at 02:42 pm
but wait... i've have skunky beers at night. doesn't it start with old kegs and / or dirty lines?
Dave replying to a comment from Jimjackson / June 12, 2014 at 02:43 pm
... who says you can't also use it inside? Sure there isn't UV inside, but a glass is still a glass, and you can use it whenever and wherever the hell you want.

I think its a great idea and I am in full support.
Andrew / June 12, 2014 at 02:49 pm
Peterpan you are the classic BlogTO trole. I hate people like you. Would love to see what you could start from scratch and develop other then complaints and stupid comments.

Jimjackson patio season is seasonal so should we stop buying patio sets because we can only use them 3 months out of the year.

Come on Toronto. Support local companies and stop bullying them.
MrsP / June 12, 2014 at 02:54 pm
I'm completely for supporting local business and entrepreneurs, but I don't understand the need for this.
Is skunky beer a ligitimate issue on a patio?
And I too am wondering; would the UV come in through the top of the glass?
I'm assuming you did market research but as a consumer, I honestly don't see this as an issue (for me).
Ben replying to a comment from Peterpan / June 12, 2014 at 02:59 pm
Check out the Kickstarter page. There's a cheeky "Fuck the table, save the beer" campaign that goes along with this product encouraging you to put your coaster on top of your glass instead of under it.

As for the trolls, sorry to interrupt. As you were.
Random Reader / June 12, 2014 at 03:05 pm
If anything, they should come out with a pitcher made of the this material. Drinking a single pint in the sun doesn't seem to make much difference in my books, but I will admit that when drinking from pitchers, that last pour can be disappointing to say the least.
Gus replying to a comment from Random Reader / June 12, 2014 at 03:10 pm
AND what you you expect from that last pour? Return it cause it took you an hour to finish a pitcher?
Andre replying to a comment from Random Reader / June 12, 2014 at 03:13 pm
Now if they could KEEP it from going skunky that would be different but to just identify it doesn't do much, I can do that by taste.

If its such an issue for you simply order and drink your beer from the nice brown bottle it comes in.

lister / June 12, 2014 at 03:15 pm
If you're taking *THAT* long to drink a beer on a patio the bigger problem is the beer getting too warm.

Beer isn't going to skunk that fast.

Seems to be a solution in search of a problem.
Sissy Rone replying to a comment from Andre / June 12, 2014 at 03:17 pm
You don't drink beer from the bottle, you philistine.

Tasting beer is smelling it. If you're drinking beer from a bottle, you're not really getting the full taste. The proper glass lets you fully appreciate the beverage.

I think the real fault with this glass is that it will make it hard to judge a beer's colour, clarity, and head retention.
McRib replying to a comment from Andrew / June 12, 2014 at 03:17 pm
commenters on this site pretty much hate everything.

good idea, cool startup, good luck.

(see, that wasn't so hard)
Random Reader replying to a comment from Gus / June 12, 2014 at 03:22 pm
You're missing the point. I would never return a drink I've consumed most of for another, and I certainly wouldn't expect another pitcher or replacement o the bottom.
Regardless of a newfound ability to complain because, I actually just want to see the pitcher stay colder longer.
Lazer / June 12, 2014 at 03:48 pm
The number of people who seem to have nothing better to do than pretend that they're better than everyone at everything is probably the worst part of internet culture. Someone invents a product that tries to solve a problem that many people have and the internet experts immediately cry out in horror because the solution isn't satisfactory to them.

Get a life...maybe if you had the opportunity to enjoy beers outdoors with friends rather than poking holes in every idea you didn't have, you'd be a more pleasant person.
Paul replying to a comment from Alexander / June 12, 2014 at 04:07 pm
Maybe read the question before commenting eh bud? How long it takes for a beer to go skunky was clearly stated in the last paragraph.

Did you just come to this site to hate or are you really that dumb?
CaligulaJones replying to a comment from Alan Wood / June 12, 2014 at 04:19 pm
Much appreciated, and I wish you luck. But, like $15 grilled cheese, I'm simply not your market.

I may be interested in, as above, you have it in pitchers as well.

To me, this is the equivalent of those old people sunglasses you can fit over your normal glasses. The science might be there, but its ugly, and not something I'm ready for yet...
Martin replying to a comment from Paul / June 12, 2014 at 05:15 pm
As stated in the article as 30 secs then reduced to 10-12 by Mr Wood basicly means your beer is skunky by the time your server brings it to you. I have yet to see a server bring a pint with a coaster on it to block any stray UV light from coming in from above. I have to agree with other posters this is a solution looking for a problem or #firstworldprobelms.
Vinnie / June 12, 2014 at 05:32 pm
what's to stop any other company from making a brown pint glass? Is that all it is? How do you patent a thing like this? Not saying it's a bad idea, I just don't see the business. I'm out.
Jordan / June 12, 2014 at 05:36 pm
This seems like an invented problem - though for the picky - you can always order a bottle and pour it into a glass as needed. Millions of pint glasses saved everywhere.
Martin / June 12, 2014 at 05:51 pm
Well a pretty quick search online reveals that plain glass is actually "pretty darn good" at filtering out most UV radiation;

Obviously brown glass is better when you are storing/shipping beer, but I think the claim your beer will go skunky in 20 sec is a bit of a snake oil pitch.

Is this why all the pubs in the UK are dark & dingy? Will pubs buy this glass? I doubt they will pay the added expense when as many have said its not really an issue. Good luck though as "there is a sucker born every minute" right?
Jason replying to a comment from Martin / June 12, 2014 at 06:39 pm
Every time someone criticizes a new idea with hashtag firstworldproblems, they should be required to disclose exactly how they make a living, so we can all sit in awe at how they're saving the world. Why can't we down vote all the negative crap in BlogTO comments?
Martin replying to a comment from Jason / June 12, 2014 at 07:01 pm
Believe it or not constructive critism isn't always postive, "What an awesome idea! Go get funding." Realistic expectations should be discussed, but beer going skunky in 20 seconds? Ya that is a firstworldproblem.
Hank / June 12, 2014 at 07:33 pm
Most entrepreneurs and inventors come up with many idea's and concepts most of which aren't good or successful, but its the one invention they have that is good that makes them a success.

Try, Try again. Until you invent something good. If you have a good revolutionary idea, investors will take notice and want to help you out. IF THIS IS A GOOD IDEA, they should be approaching the beer industry, bar and server industries as they will be the ones that decide if this is something they want to back and invest in. Sure if I buy a 12 pack of a particular beer brand let it come with a free glass.
Dean / June 12, 2014 at 07:38 pm
You can already buy reused brown beer bottle glasses that they cut the spout off of. I've seen them at many craft and one of a kind shows

And if you can't find them you can make your own,

How to make drinking glasses, from any beer bottle!

6-Pack of Brown Beer-Bottle Glasses - $15.60
Mark replying to a comment from Martin / June 12, 2014 at 07:38 pm
What a strange study to link to. Not relevant at all to light absorption by different glass colours for protecting beer.

Here's a better one:

Figure 2 and table 2 are all you need.
Nathan / June 12, 2014 at 09:35 pm
Crowdfunding an idea that already exists? That you can already buy today?

Wow everyone's trying to get free money these days. $35,000 is not a ton of money. If you believe in your own idea enough you should borrow the money from friends and family or try the bank and be done with it. Ohh but then you'd be on the hook to pay it back, that's right. Less risk on a risky idea if its someone elses money that doesn't need to be paid back.
Martin replying to a comment from Mark / June 12, 2014 at 10:03 pm
Hey Mark, finally some science! Thanks for the link, I was just commenting on the fact that plain glass has some UV filtering properties and that was the first article I came across. I find it hard to believe that coloured glass will make that much of a difference in the time it takes to consume your pint, but it looks like an intresting read.
Mark replying to a comment from Martin / June 12, 2014 at 11:41 pm
Measuring light absorbance isn't a timed thing, it's just the amount of light at a given wavelength that doesn't make it through a specific material.

The chemical reaction inside the beer is a different thing. I'm sure it starts happening immediately as light hits the beer on the outer walls of the glass. I don't know when the skunky odour would become perceptible. Why don't you try it with a hoppy beer on a patio?
Chit Chat / June 13, 2014 at 12:08 am
So what, now we're going to have a bunch of people slowly sipping on pints testing its skunkyness? Who cares?

Remember, the days of Shut Up and Drink!!
Drink up / June 13, 2014 at 12:55 am
If your beer is going skunky on a patio, you are clearly not drinking fast enough. Get with the program!
Thom / June 13, 2014 at 04:51 am
People this is not a new idea, remember the brown glass beer mugs of yesteryear?
Hank / June 13, 2014 at 07:44 am
See cover photo = move your beer 3 inches to the left and it will be in the shade there Einstein!
lovin the wprldclass city vibe / June 13, 2014 at 07:54 am
This truely is #FirstWorldProblems.
lovin the worldclass city vibe / June 13, 2014 at 07:56 am
Ohh and I make my money by working a job not by asking for handouts from others for my own personal gain.
Spelling / June 13, 2014 at 09:25 am
Sorry, but please spell "it's" as "its" in the sentence "...only to expose it to light for the last leg of it's journey..."

Come on, Ben.
Indianguy / June 13, 2014 at 09:51 am
Yes? Hi! Vashi was doing the dumb and using the condensation to wrap the napkin around the beer (the coors Light).
Torontoguy replying to a comment from lovin the worldclass city vibe / June 13, 2014 at 09:59 am
Producing, marketing, and selling a product is asking for handouts? You don't know how business works, do you...
Thankyou replying to a comment from Torontoguy / June 13, 2014 at 11:03 am
Thank you Torontoguy!! Some people don't know how kickstarter works (lovin the worldclass city vibe). Kickstarter is an incredible resource for entrepreneurs to test out a product on the market before they take on the risk of a loan! Like you said, these aren't handouts - supporters are purchasing a product - earlybirds! Great work guys!
Curtis / June 13, 2014 at 02:39 pm
Just wondering what prevents sunlight from going in the top of the open glass? and wouldn't a plastic cup like a solo cup be more effective and blocking uv rays maybe? also i sit on a lot of patios and most have patio umbrellas where i can still be outside enjoying a beer but have shade so i don't get a sunburn.
M. / June 13, 2014 at 05:10 pm
To the simple-minded/non-sophisticated consumers providing amateur (non-required) business advice,

Given your posts, I am confident that you lack experience in the alcoholic beverage business (or any business to be specific) making your arguments and critiques fairly questionable.

I strongly advice you to invest your time elsewhere where you might add some value.
DD / June 14, 2014 at 01:34 pm
why not give it a go
DD / June 14, 2014 at 01:34 pm
why not cant hurt
Oakley Half Jacket Sunglasse / September 23, 2014 at 09:07 pm
find the knowage hopeful.

Oakley Half Jacket Sunglasse
Other Cities: Montreal