The 10 Best Beer Brands That Come in Green Bottles: Full Guide

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One of the many lessons you learn as you dive deeper into the world of beer is the importance of beer storage. Beer is not like other alcoholic beverages in that it lacks the shelf lives of spirits and even wines. 

Additionally, anyone who has ever drank an IPA outside in the sun has discovered that a primary beer ingredient, hops, is highly susceptible to the sun’s UV light. So it is ironic that despite warnings from beer geeks to avoid green bottled beer, some of the world’s best and most iconic beer brands are packaged with just that: green glass bottles.

Let’s look at why green glass is harmful to beer’s flavor and some of the beers that wouldn’t be the same if it were for their distinctive green glass bottles.

How Does Green Glass Affect the Beer’s Taste?

Heineken beer bottles
Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash

Beer is affected by the UV rays of light. “Only recently (in 2001) did we figure out how light causes skunkiness. Chemists at the University of North Carolina and Ghent University in Belgium found that when exposed to light, the alpha acids in hops break down into free radicals that then react with sulfur-containing proteins to make a chemical called 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol, which is virtually identical to the principal constituent of skunk juice.”

Beer bottles primarily come in brown, green, and clear. Clear bottles provide no protection from ultraviolet light. Brown beer bottles offer the most. The fact that all glass bottles allow some level of UV light to react with the beer chemically is one of the reasons why many brewers (and beer drinkers) prefer cans.

Notably, clear glass bottles like those used by Corona or Miller High Life are commonly used for beers brewed with a type of hop product that has been treated so as not to be affected by light. These hops are called Tetra hops, simply Tetra.

Why are Green Bottles Used If They Affect a Beer’s Flavor?

Historically, green and brown beer bottles were the easiest to produce, thus making them the best choice for price-conscious beer companies simply by virtue of supply. Perhaps if quality were at the forefront of these brewery’s mines, metal bottles would be the standard today.

Additionally, in a world full of brown beer bottles, a pop of green color certainly would help stand out on a crowded beer store shelf. Though this, again, favored other priorities over offering a higher-quality beer, I can see how the lure of revenue might have affected this decision.

Finally, despite the result of light-struck beer creating a skunky taste, that taste isn’t necessarily despised by every consumer. As imported beers became popular in the United States, many green bottle beers arrived light-struck due to poor storage while shipping beer from overseas. 

Without a strong domestic reference, these off-flavors became recognized as part of these highly sought-after beers’ character. In fact, many say that some beer companies even chose to treat their beers with UV light to keep that character as they changed the packaging to satisfy the American consumer.

On a personal note, I don’t mind a beer that has a bit of light-struck character. I associate it with being outdoors and having fun. That said, not all beers benefit from a touch of skunkiness. Specifically, the highly hopped IPAs prevalent in the US market are far too susceptible to UV light. If I order a beer like this on a restaurant patio, I often find myself constructing impromptu sunshades for my beer. What I really should do is opt for ordering a less hopped beer or a pale lager beer that has a light floral hop character that seems to be complemented by a little DMS. Sorry, not sorry.

Green Bottle Beer Brands: Our Top 10

1. Saison Dupont | Brasserie Dupont

Type: Belgian Saison | ABV: 6.5% | Calories: xxx

Saison had a moment back in the mid-aughts, but too much interpretation of the style was its downfall. The original is still a banger in Saison Dupont. The beer is a crisp, bone-dry, lemon-peppery blond ale with plenty of effervescence. Most examples outside of Belgium are very skunky and taste strikingly different from the source.

2. Spon Series | Jester King

Type: Method Traditionelle | ABV: varies | Calories: varies

Jester King near Austin, Texas, masters wildly fermented, envelope-pushing beers. They are also very practical thinkers who choose to package their beers in green bottles at various times. Their Spon series beers do not use many hops. Thus, there is little for UV light to interact with. This gives their beers an elegant form of packaging without risking how the brewer wants the beer to taste.

3. Saison Athene | St. Somewhere

Type: Saison | ABV: 7.5% | Calories: 225

Florida’s St. Somewhere is no stranger to green bottle beer. Their beers are not highly hopped and can hold up well in any packaging. While their use of green bottles seems to have changed, beer sleuths may be able to find vintage examples with green glass.

4. Våronna | Fox Farm Beer

Type: Norwegian Style Farmhouse Ale | ABV: 5.5% | Calories: 160

“Made with locally grown and malted grains, bog myrtle from our land and foraged spruce tips Våronna is co-fermented with our farmhouse mixed culture and Voss Kveik yeast (a Norwegian farmhouse strain).”

Using spruce tips instead of some of the hops in beer allows brewers to select a green bottle for packaging without risking beer quality. Fox Farm’s craft beers are highly differentiated and a great addition to the beer scene.

5. Grolsch Premium Pilsner | Grolsch Brewery (Asahi/ SAB Miller)

a person holding a beer bottle in their hand
Photo by daml a on Unsplash

Type: International Pale Lager | ABV: 5% | Calories: 145

A green beer bottle isn’t the only unique attribute of Grolsch. Grolsch is one of the few commercial beer brands with ceramic swing top closure. The beer is a standard lager that is refreshing and shows that beer quality doesn’t follow one set of guidelines.

6. Stella Artois (AB Inbev)

selective focus photography of Stella Artois bottle on beside pool
Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

Type: Belgian Lager | ABV: 5% | Calories: 150

Stella Artois is one of the world’s most popular commercial beer brands. It is a well-balanced pale lager that is similar to other international lagers. Stella Artois is also available in cans and on draft, which may taste fresher than if stored too long in direct light.

7. Pilsner Urquell (Asahi)

Type: Bohemian Pilsner | ABV: 4.4% | Calories: 139

UV rays easily damage a highly hopped style like a pilsner. Pilsner Urquell lovers may have become accustomed to skunked beer at some point, prompting brewers to decide how to package and market the beer. Fresh, the beer is a true classic that you should strive to protect the beer inside after purchase.

8. Heineken

Heineken beer bottles
Photo by Christian Gertenbach on Unsplash

Type: International Pale Lager | ABV: 5% | Calories: 142

Heineken is a classic beer from a beer company that takes storing beer and serving seriously. Heineken is best served on draft to ensure beer freshness and the perfect refreshing taste of pale malts and floral hops.

9. Dos Equis Especial (Heineken)

Type: International Pale Lager | ABV: 4.2% | Calories: 130

Lowing hopping rates allow Dos Equis to come in green bottles. Like its parent company, Heineken, Dos Equis has experience navigating a successful beer brand and marketing how it tastes. One can expect harmful UV rays to play some part in the beer experience and beer lovers should check born on dating for fresher beers.

10. Yuengling Traditional Lager

Type: American Lager | ABV: 4.5 | Calories: 140

Travel anywhere in the Eastern United States, and you are bound to see Yuengling Lager. The brewery is the oldest in the United States and one of the largest beer brands despite remaining fiercely independent. Their adherence to tradition is closely aligned with the presentation of their traditional green bottles.

Beer in Green Bottles

Green beer bottles have a place in the beer scene despite their risk to beer quality. Light will affect how a beer may taste, and it is essential for beer lovers to store beer properly and recognize when a beer is not a great example of the beer. Keep this in mind when selecting beer at beer stores and reviewing beers online.

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Andy Sparhawk is an avid beer lover and the former editor-in-chief for CraftBeer.com. Andy is the lead writer for The Beer Babe and lives in Westminster, Colorado, with his family. As beer enthusiast and experienced beer judge, he loves sharing his experiences with The Beer Babe's dedicated audience of beer enthusiasts.