It’s common practice for breweries and retailers to date their products so that they know when to quit selling them. But, does beer expire?
Beer does expire at a certain point but when beer goes stale it does not mean it becomes unsafe to drink. You will probably get unpleasant tastes and aromas when you sip an expired beer. Even if you keep your bottle or cans in a cool, dark place, the conditions outside will still affect the flavor of your brew. Microbes and other natural factors can play a role, too. Your beer’s expiration date will tell you when it’s time to toss that bottle or can.
When you pop open a cold one this summer, you probably won’t even give it a second thought. But for those of us who are serious about craft beer, knowing when a bottle of something is no longer safe to drink is an important question to answer.
Do certain styles of beer go bad faster than others? If so, what does that actually mean for the average beer lover? If you’ve read anything about beer, you’ve surely heard about expiration dates.
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Does beer expire?
Beer does expire at a certain point but when beer goes stale it does not mean it becomes unsafe to drink. You will probably get unpleasant tastes and aromas when you sip an expired beer.
However, if you can comfortably take beer with numerous faults, then you can take the expired beer. This is because both the smell and flavor will degrade over time especially when exposed to light, oxygen, and heat.
Even if you keep your bottle or cans in a cool, dark place, the conditions outside will still affect the flavor of your brew. Microbes and other natural factors can play a role, too. Your beer’s expiration date will tell you when it’s time to toss that bottle or can.
However, in a cold, dark, and aerated area, like a fridge, your bottled beer will last longer than when stored in a warm place. The cold, dark-stored bottled beer will stay fresh for up to 6 months whereas warm beer which is stored in a place with lots of light bottled beer will spoil as quickly as within 3 months.
How Long Does Beer Stay Fresh?
Most beer when left at room temperature will stay fresh for four to six months on average. If kept refrigerated, the beer can stay fresh for an additional two or three years.
Beer may not be fresh forever we understand, but compared to other consumable grocery store items, it has a longer-lasting shelf life. Thus, you can take any beer that has exceeded the shelf-life printed on the label by 6 to 9 months- thus well beyond that expiration date when stored at room temperature.
The length of time that beer will stay fresh really depends on a few different factors.
- The first factor that determines how long beer stays fresh is when it’s been produced: age– the older your beer gets, the more stale and flat it’ll taste. A brew from this week will be fresher than a brew from last month, for example.
- The second factor is the temperature you store your beer at. If you leave it in the sun or heat, it’ll go bad faster than if you keep it in a cool place.
- The third factor is oxygen or air. Exposure of the beer to air can lead to its oxygenation thus making it stale.
- Fourth, light makes the beer go stale faster. Sunlight makes the beer go stale even faster because it combines both light and heat.
However, expired beer doesn’t become an unsafe beer to drink- no worries about food safety. This is because the plant ingredients naturally decay but even with degraded flavor, the beer is perfectly safe to drink if you can withstand the different flavors and aromas.
How to tell if the beer has gone bad
If your beer has gone bad, you’ll probably notice a few tell-tale signs. If you open up a bottle and the beer gushes out like it’s been shaken, this means that it’s off. It could also be off if the aroma is sour or tastes sour.
You might see white patches of yeast on the surface of the liquid, another sign that the beer has gone bad. The easiest way to tell if your beer has gone bad is by checking its expiration date.
Beer usually lasts for a day or two after being opened. The following are the signs that your beer has gone bad:
Beer normally changes its smell when either it is exposed to UV light, gets oxygenated, or is infected by microorganisms. Stale beer will either smell like urine or be skunked depending on the cause of degradation. Sometimes, expired beer may taste like an apple or mowed grass– insinuating the presence of acetaldehyde in the beer.
Skunked beer is a result of regular exposure to UV light such as when beer is stored in direct sunlight for some time. Beer that smells like urine or cardboard when stale is caused by beer that has exceeded its shelf life markedly hence it is slightly oxidized.
If you smell a skunk-like odor, it means the beer has gone bad. The most common culprit of this is bacteria that have grown while the beer is in the bottle- leading to buttered popcorn or butterscotch smells due to diacetyl.
Bacteria infection is very minimal since the beer is pasteurized or filtered to eliminate bacteria when bottled. Thus, beer is almost resistant to spoilage caused by microorganisms.
Give it a whiff and if you get a whiff of anything other than beer, then you know to toss it out.
The first sign that your beer is going bad is when you see a dusty or cloudy layer at the bottom of the bottle. This indicates that yeast has formed and it’s breaking down the beer.
You may also notice changes in color, like turning from golden to brown. If you still think your beer tastes ok, though, you can always add a little more carbonation to freshen it up.
If you don’t drink your beer often and just have one or two bottles stored away for a rainy day, this might not be an issue for you. But if it’s been sitting around for months or years and it’s in a warm environment as well, there’s a good chance it’ll taste flat before you even open the bottle.
Another way to tell if your beer has gone bad is by checking the head on top of the liquid when pouring. If the head dissipates quickly and leaves behind only foam, that can mean it won’t taste very good either.
However, if your beer has been stored properly – refrigerated at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below – then you’re probably ok to keep drinking as long as it tastes right to you.
One of the reasons why beer goes stale is oxidation. Yes, we may want to eliminate as much oxygen as possible during bottling but it’s not possible to eliminate all. Oxygen changes the flavor of your beer.
This is because oxidation of the beer by oxygen produces different flavors such as a cardboard flavor). Other malty beers become sweet, grainy, caramel, and toffee notes.
The other thing to check for is if your beer has a “skunky-flavored” beer. The flavor is a result of exposure of beer to light.
Thus, if you feel like your beer tastes different than it should, that could be a warning sign that it’s going bad. One of the first telltale signs is that the beer starts to taste flat or unappealing.
It may have cardboard flavors or develop sweet, grainy, caramel, and toffee notes. If you find that your beer has a skunky flavor, then it’s time to throw it out.
Another sign that your beer is going bad or has already become stale is the lack of white foam rising right after opening a bottle. This should be the first sign of an old beer which indicates a lack of carbonation.
If you notice your beer not being as bubbly as it used to be, or if there is no white foam rising right after opening a bottle, it’s past its prime.
This can also be caused by over-chilling the beer. Beer should always be stored at refrigerator temperatures and never in the freezer because the extreme cold has been shown to inhibit the conversion of starch into sugar during fermentation, which results in less body and flavor.
What makes the beer go bad?
Oxidation, light, temperature, and the disintegration of the aromatic citrusy, floral, or tropical hop aromas are some of the things that make beer go bad.
- Oxidation happens naturally as the beer is exposed to air. The chemical reaction of oxygen and the beer’s organic compounds causes an unpleasant flavor to develop. Oxidation can be prevented with a hermetic seal and dark, cool temperatures.
- But beer can also go bad due to light exposure. When there is a break in the bottle or when light enters and hits the beer, it starts to degrade and become unpalatable. Lights can cause the beer to have the dreaded “skunky-flavored” which emanates from a reaction of the chemicals in hops react.
- Temperature is another factor that affects the taste of your brew. The beer should not be stored in high-temperature environments for long. Extremely hot or cold temperatures will cause a change in how the flavor tastes.
- Finally, beers are also susceptible to going bad if they are made from hops that have disintegrated over time. If you want your beer to taste best, store it at a stable temperature in a dark place – like your fridge!
How do you know if beer is skunked?
Skunked beer is a term that applies to beer that has been subjected to light exposure. This will make the beer smell and taste like a skunk. The only way for the skunked flavor and odor to go away is by letting the beer age in a dark environment for several months.
The smell of skunk is the big indicator. But if you can’t smell your beer, there are other telltale signs: When you first open a bottle or can of beer and it smells kinda funky, that’s an indication that your beer is past its prime.
Another indicator is when the beer lacks flavor. Skunked beers are typically brewed with hops which, when exposed to light, can produce a chemical that creates the characteristic odor.
Though not all beers will go bad if they’re exposed to light or stored in un-refrigerated temperatures, those beers may lose their flavor or become bitter. So be sure to check the expiration date on the bottle before consuming it and store it properly to keep your brew fresh!
How long does beer last after the expiration date?
It all boils down to the alcohol content of your brew. The higher the alcohol content, the more flavor stability you’ll get and the longer your brew will last past its expiration date.
Generally speaking, beers with a 4% ABV will hold their flavor for five to nine months at room temperature and 2 years when stored in the fridge, while beers with an ABV of over 8% can maintain their flavor for two to three years when refrigerated.
If you’re like most people, you don’t have time to constantly keep track of the expiration date for all your food. But storing your beer in the fridge can help it last longer.
Beer does not actually expire but goes stale. If you keep it cold, you can store cans or bottles for five to nine months at room temperature and two or three years when refrigerated.
But how do you tell if your beer is past its prime? Check out these signs that your beer is no longer fresh:
- The liquid in the bottle has been exposed to sunlight or fluorescent light;
- There are visible particles in the liquid;
- There are off-odors coming from the bottle;
- The bottle feels warm or cold to the touch.
Is there an expiry date on beer?
If you’ve been wondering when to drink your beer, the short answer is that yes, beer expires. But saying the beer expires is a bit misleading, it doesn’t actually become unsafe to drink, it just starts to taste unappealing or flat.
The expiration date on sealed bottles of beer is 6-8 months without refrigeration. If stored and refrigerated properly, sealed beer can last beyond its expiration date up to 12 months.
There is no difference in this length of time for either light or dark beers.
Does expired beer make you sick?
No, it is totally safe to drink. If you drink expired beer, it will not hurt you, but it will not taste good. The chemicals in the brew will have degraded and it won’t taste as good and will probably smell strange.
But saying the beer expires is a bit misleading, it doesn’t actually become unsafe to drink, it just starts to taste unappealing or flat. Beer has a shelf life of about 6-12 months in the fridge, but if you’re not a fan of drinking flat beer and want to prolong the life span, there are a few things you can do.
The first and most obvious way is to store your brew out of direct sunlight and in a cool place. Another thing you can do is keep it upright in the fridge instead of lying down so that less air can get into the bottle or can.
If you have multiple beers and some go bad before others, pour your remaining beers into clean bottles or cans. This usually helps give them an extra week or two before they expire.
The last tip for extending your beer’s life span is to drink it as soon as possible after opening! Once you open your bottle or cans (or even after pouring) the CO2 will start escaping, which means oxygen comes in contact with the brew.
As soon as this happens, bacteria will start growing and cause spoilage – which will lead to an unpleasant taste. The good news though: when beer goes stale, it still tastes like regular old beer – just maybe not as good as when fresh.
What happens if I drink expired beer?
You can drink expired beer and some say it may actually taste better. The most popular question you have probably ever heard about beer is probably this question: “Does expired beer make you sick?” The answer to this question is a resounding no.
The date on the bottle or can of your beer does not mean that it will happen on that day, but it does mean that something in the process of brewing has made it stale. And so technically, your beer does not expire, it goes stale.
Does this make sense? Probably not, but what we are trying to say is that once the date passes, your beer will start to taste different and may lose its flavor entirely if left for too long. That’s why many people think that the flavor of expired beers tastes better than fresh ones.
Can you drink 10-year-old beer?
Yes, but its flavor will degrade over time even though it can be perfectly safe to drink. There are a few factors that can affect the flavor of a beer, such as how the beer is brewed and stored.
There are a few factors that contribute to the flavor of your beer, but there’s one major factor: time. The longer your beer sits on the shelf, or in the fridge, the more it will start to taste flat and unappealing.
This is because as the malt in your beer starts to break down over time, it loses its original sweetness, making for a less flavorful brew.
This is why you should always drink your beer within 1-2 weeks of purchase. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean a 10-year-old bottle of beer can’t be perfectly safe to drink. It just won’t taste as good as it did when you first bought it.
When a beer is initially brewed, it will be made with yeasts that produce alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The carbon dioxide gives it fizz while the alcohol provides its flavor. But when the yeast runs out of sugars to convert into alcohol and CO2, it will die off, leaving behind what’s called “diacetyl” which creates a buttery taste in your brew.
This can happen after about four months from when the beer was initially bottled or canned. The color of your beer will tell you if it hasn’t kept well too. If there is sediment at the bottom of your bottle or can or if your brew has an amber tint, this means that age has taken its toll on the drinkability of your drink.
One way to tell if your beer is past its prime is by looking at its temperature before you open it. If you shake up the bottle and it sloshes around vigorously without any air bubbles, this means that there’s nothing left in there but foam and water (aka all those bubbles were CO2).
If your bottle seems really hot to touch or has risen in temperature since being opened even though you haven’t drank any yet then steer clear – this could mean that something went wrong during production like cross-contamination with bacteria or lack of refrigeration during transport.
How long does carbonated beer last?
After carbonating beer on the 7th to 10th date, the beer can last 5 to 9 months at room temperatures and two or three years when refrigerated. The first sign of expired beer is that it becomes flat.
If your beer was carbonated, or bubbly, when you left it and now it’s not, then its gone bad. Signs of an expired beer could also be that the color of it has changed from a lighter golden color to a darker brown color.
The foam on the top could be a sign too. If the foam is gone, then your beer might have gone bad. And if the original flavor is gone too, then your beer has definitely expired. To ensure you’re drinking fresh beers, remember to check the date before drinking and don’t drink any bottles/cans after their expiration date!
Does beer lose carbonation over time?
No, The carbonation will not be lost if the beer is stored cold (normal fridge temperature) for a short period of time but once lost, you can not get it back.
If you leave your beer in the sun on a hot day, it will go out of date faster because of the heat and humidity.
Does unopened beer go flat?
Yes, all beers go flat after some time and exposure to heat or light. However, beers with a higher ABV such as stouts and lambics can last for a few years as compared to beers with a low ABV which last for about 6 months when stored unopened on a shelf.
When beer is exposed to air, the flavor starts to degrade. If you have an unopened beer, it will last for about 6 months at normal room temperature. Higher ABV beers (lambics or stouts) can last for a few years.
How long does keg beer last with CO2?
Keg beer lasts 45-60 days when it’s kept under the constant pressure of CO2. However, the liquid will still go stale or flat in that time period. This is because as the yeast dies off, the CO2 levels in the keg drop, letting air in and allowing for bacteria growth.
If you’ve ever been to a bar or had a drink at a friend’s house, you’ve probably seen the “date stamp” on their beer. You might not have given it much thought
But if you want to make sure your beer is tasting as good as it should be, then you need to pay attention. Beer lasts for about three months once bottled (or canned) and refrigerated before going stale.
There are a few telltale signs that your beer is no longer fresh. One is when the smell and flavor change. A second sign is if the beer starts to bubble in an unpredictable way. And the final sign, which can be hard to see, is if the beer starts to emit a sour smell.
If you’re noticing one or several of these signs, it might be time to say goodbye to that bottle or can of beer. As with most foods, there are ways you can store your beers for longer amounts of time so they won’t spoil as quickly.
You can store your beers in a cool dark place like a refrigerator, but this will slow down the process by only about 3-6 months. The best way you can keep your beer fresh for longer periods of time is by freezing it at 0°F in an airtight container. This will preserve its flavor and prolong its shelf life by up to two years!
When does beer expire?
Beer will start to taste flat or unappealing at some point. It doesn’t actually become unsafe to drink after 5 to 9 months beyond the expiration date listed on the label. If refrigerated the beer can stay fresh for two or three year. it just starts to taste unappealing or flat. If you’ve had a beer in your fridge for too long and you find that it tastes unpleasant, don’t be afraid to toss it out.
Why does beer go out of date?
The flavor of your brew will depend on a number of factors, like microbes and natural factors outside of your control. Moreover, exposure to light, high temperatures, and oxidation can make a beer go out of date. The only way to keep your flavor fresh is by drinking within recommended date ranges. Keep your bottle or cans in a cool, dark place so they don’t go stale as quickly.
What should I do when my beer goes out of date?
When your beer goes bad, it won’t turn into something harmful like food poisoning where you could get sick from drinking it, but the flavor will change dramatically and may not be enjoyable anymore–so if you see any signs that the flavor has changed significantly, throw the container away!
My beer just expired, what do I do with it?
Expired beer is still safe to drink — but not necessarily tasty. If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can drink your expired beer and add something to it that will make it taste better. Try adding some sugar, honey or maple syrup, or even orange juice or grapefruit juice to the mix. If sulfites are your concern, then you might try adding ginger ale, cola or lemonade to your expired brew if it has a lot of them in it.
Why does beer go bad?
The flavor of most beers starts degrading after about six months from its production date. And after one year from production, there’s a risk of microbial growth inside the bottle that creates off-flavors which can taste sour and metallic.