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Does Beer Expire? How Long Does the Beer Last?

Could it be that you bought your favorite beer, kept and forgot about it? So you have just spotted it as you were looking for something else in your fridge, and you wonder, ‘’does beer expire?’’

It is necessary to understand if this statement is true and know what to do when your drink is off its best by date. Let us explore below.

Can Beer Expire?

Well, the answer is yes. However, if we say so, we do not mean that you cannot take it after the expiry date. So, what changes after the beer’s best by date? Of course, the taste may not be like the one from a fresh beer.

You may also need to check some other changes but first, let us see if your beer can go bad.

Does Beer Go Bad?

Although beer is made from some super items, it will go bad after the expired time. The taste is so different. The main ingredient of beer is organic plants. And of course, you know these plants decay. However, since the brewers are creative and do not wish their product to go bad as soon as possible, they have a way of improving it.

Beer has low pH. The alcohol content in the beer also improves its stay. Besides, the hops in the beer go through some micro bacteria activity that extends its duration in the stores.

After packaging the beer, the things that may make it go bad are air and ingredients therein. Even though brewers try to avoid air entry in the containers, it becomes hard to avoid it completely.

So, the oxygen in the beer oxidizes over time. Hence the beer’s flavor changes. The taste can be stale like a cardboard’s taste and with some sherry touch.

For malty beers, their taste can be grainy, sweet, or caramel with some toffee notes.

Also, when the temperature is high, the oxidation process speeds. Hence your beer will become stale quicker.

If the beer keeps for long in the stores, its hops diminish over time. The citrusy, floral, and tropical hop aromas are pretty sensitive, and the longer your hop beer stays, the lesser the aromas will be found inside.

Light is an enemy to beer. If you expose it to too much light, the flavor becomes skunky and never pleasant to the taste. Hence, you will often see beers kept in brown or black bottles that will not allow light.

How Long Should Beer Last?

The best beer to drink is the fresh one from the brewer’s pot. Its taste is always delicious, bright, and full of taste. That is why most brewers would offer the drink fresh because they want you to note the difference between a fresh one and one that has stayed longer.

But how many can go to the stores or the brewing house to wait for a can of beer? Not many can afford this time unless it is occasionally. So, you will find beers stored and expected to last for some time.  Each beer has a shelf life, and these times vary.

For those that love stronger beers like vintage and stouts, they can attest that these can stay a lifetime. They rarely go bad. In fact, the longer they stay, the better and richer their flavors become. The presence of bacteria and yeast in these beers is what gives them the best evolution.

Oxygen reacts with hops, malts, and yeast components to generate some rich flavors. Some flavors, such as bitterness, tend to reduce with time. However, sweet flavors will increase and make your beer appealing to the taste.

We may know how long a beer may last based on packaging. Let us check each.

1. Bottled beer.

If you store your beer in a bottle and keep it in a cold and dark area, you can have it fresh for up to six months. If you are not keen on storing it, warm temperatures will lower its quality, and you can only consume it within three months.

Often brown or dark bottles are recommended since they do not allow light.

2. Canned beer

Cans are the best storage equipment for your beer. They allow no amount of light to your drink. Besides, the beer and the lid space are relatively small and may not allow air. Hence, oxygen will not reach your drink, causing it to lose its good flavor.

However, the amount of time it can keep your beer fresh is the same as the bottles can. You only need to store it in a cool environment. If you cannot keep them in the required cold temperature, consume them within three months.

3. Crowlers and growlers

Could you be wondering what crowlers or growlers mean? I know if you are a lover of fresh beers, this is a common vocabulary to you. For the sake of those who do not understand, crowlers and growlers are beers that brewers fill in cans or glasses direct from the tap.

So, the beer is often fresh, and you need to drink it immediately. When filling, the beer traps too much air and light unless a machine that prevents this exposure is used. However, if you can consume it immediately after filling, ensure you take it within 36 hours.

4. Kegged beer

If you want a fresh keg beer, always go for one stored at cold temperature. For instance, if you go to a bar and be offered a beer kept in the warm, it will have an off-taste. And that is when you will know that the storage was also off.

If the kegged beer is not pasteurized, it can be okay for up to two months or at least 45 days. The lifespan can extend for up to three months or even four months if you keep it in good condition for a pasteurized one.

If your keg is commercial, then you use a serve pump on it; your beer will not last past twenty-four hours. The air you pump in to push the beer causes a bland taste and makes staling faster.

How to Tell That Beer Has Gone Bad

You can know that your beer has gone bad using these guidelines.

1. Check the best by date.

Once you purchase your beer, it is always wise to check its expiry date. Some countries’ laws require that brewers write on their beer cans the expiry date.

Also, most reputable companies write the date to help their users consume the right product as the manufacturers would wish it tasted.

It is always good to follow these dates. However, do not make the final verdict before pouring your beer in a glass.

2. Check color

If the beer style is pale, when it goes bad, it will appear darker. Old hoppy beers will turn brown or even purple.

3. Taste

The oxidation process will make pale beers taste stale and have a lousy cardboard flavor. For IPA and APAs, their hops will disappear, and the taste will be flatter.

These changes may not affect your health. So you may safely drink the beer unless you are pretty selective.

If you know that the bear’s make is not acidic, you should not drink it if it tastes so. If the beer is sour, then it has bacteria contamination, hence not safe for your health.

4. Check seal

The beer you buy should have a seal to show that it is authentic. If the seal is not there, then the beer will have no carbonation. Kindly do not take the beer but dispose of it.

When you open the beer, it should produce some foam. If it lacks it, your beer has gone bad. It may also mean that the bottle was not sealed well during packaging.

5. Smell

When beer goes bad, its smell becomes disgusting, and once you open it before people, even those that love beer, will not associate themselves with it.  The UV light rays are what cause the beer to lose its smell.

6. The look of the bottle

Though beer bottles may undergo some changes during packaging and transporting, there are some changes to avoid. When buying the beer, check if the bottle has dusty sediments beneath the drink.

Check also if the bottle is licking or its label is discolored. If you see any of these signs, kindly avoid the beer.

How to Store Beer

When you take your beer, you wish it tastes good and fresh as the manufacturer intended it. Here are some tips to help you store it if you do not wish to consume it anytime soon. Or probably, you are a bar owner; you never know when a customer will ask for what.

Store your beer in a pantry

The best way to always store beer is in dark places. The light should not reach your can because you can never get the best out of your beer if it does.

As we have mentioned, hops in the beer are the ones that light affects so much. It causes them to have a skunky taste that never impresses.

The best place to store them is in casks, kegs, or cans. These containers are the best since they allow no UV rays to reach your precious beer.

Keep the beer in the fridge.

Beers thrive well in lower temperatures. So, if you have a fridge, that can be the best place to keep it. If not, keep it in a cold closet, in the cellar, or the basement. In short, ensure you keep it at temperatures between 35 and 46 degrees Fahrenheit.

The lower temperature slows down the beer aging and gives it a pleasant taste. Note that even if the aging process slows down, your beer will still age or expire.

In the freezer

For instance, if you have an evening party and need some cold treats, you can keep your beer in the freezer for some minutes. The freezer is never the best place to store the beer for longer hours.

As you know, the extra pressure in the bottle will take off the can’s cap, and you may end up remaining with nothing to drink. In some other cases, the glass bottle can even break.

So, when you keep your brew in the freezer, do not forget it there because it will only be a waste after some time.


How can an expired beer affect my health?

Beer that has gone bad should not affect your health in any way. Note that fermenting beer develops strong protection against pathogens and other harmful bacteria due to its low alcohol content and pH levels.

Even if it is past its best-by-date, you can safely drink it. Only avoid the beer if it has an off-taste.

Does how far beer travels affect it?

Yes. If your beer takes time to reach its destination, it is likely to be stale. Why? Transporting it means the beer is exposed to too much light, sun, etc. So, by the time it reaches you, it is no longer in its proper state. Hence, we can say that local beer is fresh.

Can a popular beer expire?

A popular beer means that the moment you bring it to your store, the shelves will be empty the next day. Meaning that people love it so much, and some can even place orders before you go for them.

So, the beer will not last on the shelves and will never go bad because users have already consumed it when still fresh.

Bottom line: Does Beer Expire?

I hope you now have some tips about your favorite drink. Does beer expire? Beer is never milk and can stay for a while.  Hence you can consume it anytime you wish, depending on how fresh you want it to taste. You only need to store it well and in good conditions to get the best out of it.

Robin L. Lyle

Saturday 29th of October 2022

I have a 12 pack of Busch NA from May 2022. I drank one but now wonder where to check for expiry date. On the box or bottom of can.