Why Thick, Syrupy Beer Is Popping Up on TikTok

·3 min read
spoon in ropy beer
spoon in ropy beer

Molson Coors has issued a voluntary withdrawal of some of its products brewed at its facility in Trenton, Ohio, due to an unusual occurrence in some cans of Keystone Light and Coors Light. Several videos documenting the defective products have been posted to TikTok (viewed millions of times), and complaints have surfaced on Reddit detailing how the beer inside a few cans was exhibiting an unusual characteristic: “snot consistency.”

You’ll have to see this for yourself:

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In the TikTok video above, a person pours out the contents of a Coors Light onto the ground, but the beer is slow to get there—it’s unusually viscous, almost like a string of mucus (I know, I’m sorry). It’s a very strange sight, and it would be one thing if it were only showing up in one random video, but there are multiple examples of this happening across TikTok, with Keystone Light as well as Coors Light.

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Naturally, everyone’s wondering what might be wrong with the beers. Is it some sort of malt syrup? A byproduct of the brewing process that was accidentally canned? Was the beer reduced to a sludge somehow? I asked some professionals in the beer industry what the hell is going on here. They immediately identified it as what’s known as “ropy beer.”

What is ropy beer?

Ropy beer occurs when a batch is infected with pediococcus, a strain of bacteria that produces lactic acid. In rare cases, pediococcus can cause the beer to get “sick,” or ropy, as seen in the TikTok videos above.

Milk the Funk, a wiki page dedicated to brewing information, explains that the bacteria produce substances known as exopolysaccharides, a byproduct of pediococcus’ exposure to sugar. The exopolysaccharides are what cause that weird texture in the final product. Though the beer is described as “sick,” this doesn’t mean you’ll get sick if you consume it. In fact, it’s safe to drink. Just kind of gross.

I asked my friend Shana Solarte, technical writer at Omega Yeast and advanced cicerone, to explain a little further.

Pediococcus is is a lactic acid-producing bacteria that is common in acidic beers like Belgian lambics, but most non-lambic brewers go to great lengths to prevent pediococcus from getting into their breweries and their beers,” Solarte said. “Pediococcus is capable of breaking down sugars that regular beer yeast cannot, and if some were to get into, say, a Coors Light, it can produce this ‘ropiness’ because it can consume the sugars present in the beer.”

“I have read that it doesn’t really change the flavor of the beer,” she added, “but I have never been willing to try a beer that had ropiness, so...”

Well, I don’t blame her. Molson Coors never quite released a specific explanation confirming the presence of the bacteria as part of its voluntary withdrawal, it’s not 100% confirmed. But pediococcus would explain why the voluntary withdrawal wasn’t a full product recall, since technically you wouldn’t be hurt in any way by drinking the affected beer. If you crack open a cold one this weekend and feel a substance like corn syrup hit your lips, don’t panic. Instead, consider posting it to TikTok.