Does Beer Go Bad?

Does beer go bad or not? If you store beer properly, it can last a very long time without going bad. Here's a short guide with all the answers you need.

Beer is made of natural ingredients, brewed from cereal grains like malted barley. This means that, like any other food or beverage prepared with natural ingredients, it can decay with time.

Usually, beer doesn’t pose a health risk even after the expiration date has passed but it will become flat, sometimes grainy, or even foul-tasting. A color change may also indicate that the beer is no longer ideal for consumption, so it’s always a good idea to check for any changes in appearance, smell, or texture if you are not sure if your beer is still good.

What’s the bottom line?

An unopened can or bottle of beer can usually last from 4 to 6 months or 6 to eight months, depending on if you store it at room temperature or in the fridge. Once you have opened your beer you should try to consume it all on the same day or the next, as it will quickly begin to decay.

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Signs Your Beer Has Gone Bad

three mugs of beer

Some people think that beer lasts indefinitely as long as the can or bottle is not open but because it is made from plant ingredients it will eventually begin to go bad.

Certain factors such as contact with oxygen (even the small amount that comes inside the can or bottle) make the beer’s taste change. With time, oxidation starts to occur and the beer may start to taste like must, butter, or even cardboard.

Light exposure will also affect your beer since it reacts with hops, which changes the flavor of the beer. Canned beers are obviously less susceptible to this but bottled beers should always be kept away from light, preferably in a dark, cool place. If the beer is exposed to light for too long it may develop a really unpleasant smell which has been compared to the foul odor skunks produce when they feel threatened.

How To Store Beer

beer brands

Direct sunlight is the absolute worst enemy of beer. Leaving beer out in the sun for as little as 10 to 20 minutes can ruin a beer and cause the dreaded skunky taste. If you plan to share a beer with friends or family outside, try to make sure there is at least enough shade to cover the beers.

When you keep beers at home, you should always keep them in a cool and dark place. If you don’t plan to consume the beers soon and the fridge is short in space, it’s perfectly fine to store them in a pantry or in a cabinet. Ideally, you should keep a couple of beers in the fridge so that they are ready to consume at a moment’s notice.

Once you’ve opened a beer it should be kept in the fridge and consumed quickly after that. If you’ve bought unpasteurized beer, it should immediately go to the fridge, even before being opened.

Do not store your beers in the freezer. If you need them to cool down quickly, leave them there for a short amount of time, or else they may explode. This happens not only because liquids expand when they freeze but also because beer is a carbonated drink, which means the bottle or can in which is held will be under more pressure than if it contained water or juice.

Wherever you decide to store your beer, make sure to keep it upright as that will minimize the amount of beer that comes in contact with the oxygen that the can or bottle contains.

How Long Does Beer Last

beer cheers

Different types of beer have different shelf lives. In general, unopened beers will last between 4 and 6 months, if kept in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet. Beers that are kept in the fridge will last a little longer, from 6 to 8 months. Once a beer is opened it will last about one day in the fridge.

The numbers change significantly if you choose vintage beer instead of the regular kind. Why? Because it is important for vintage beer to age. This means that it is recommended to let this kind of beer sit somewhere cool and dark for a couple of years.

Usually, each brand of vintage beer will include information on the label about how long the beer should be stored to get the best taste possible. Some vintage beers, if unopened, can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years.

Some people prefer unpasteurized beer, which usually tastes differently. Those are the beers that last the least amount of time, usually only a couple of weeks.

The Verdict On Beer

To make sure it lasts as long as possible, keep your beer in a dark and cool place. If possible, keep it upright to avoid contact with too much air and make sure to keep it away from sunlight.

If you store your beer in the right conditions, it should last you between 4 and 6 months at room temperature and between 6 and 8 months in the fridge.

Remember that vintage, craft, and unpasteurized beer requires a different type of care, so make sure to read all the information on the label about how to store it properly.

If beer is one of your passions why not try a homebrewing course online? You might just discover that you were a master brewer all along and didn’t know it

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Alisa Shimoyama
Alisa Shimoyama

Alisa eats her way around the world on her travels and likes to have good food ready and waiting for her when she gets back.