Does Craft Beer Expire?

expired beer

When you are planning for a weekend barbeque party, you want to make sure that your favorite beer is fresh. Besides, one of the important factors in enjoying the beer involves knowing whether or not it has expired. Certainly, nothing should be worse than finding out that the beer doesn’t taste right when you are in the mood to have it.

So, does beer expire? The simple answer to this question is yes. Having said that, the statement could be misleading. That’s because an expired beer starts to taste flat or unappealing. Moreover, it isn’t unsafe to drink. Continue reading the post to learn more about it in detail.

Why does beer expire?

Beer is made from plant ingredients like other foods. Hence, they will decay eventually. However, brewers try to make the beer last long as possible. Besides, the antimicrobial activity of hops, low pH level in beer, and the alcohol content add more advantages to the process.

Therefore, when brewed and packaged the right way, the things that your beer contains are the tiniest amount of air and ingredients. It isn’t possible to package beer without oxygen. As such, the oxygen alters the condition of beer over time.

Also, the process of oxidation help derives a variety of flavors. As such, it adds a stale flavor that is similar to cardboard. In addition, some malty beers might develop toffee, caramel, grainy, or sweet notes. Furthermore, temperature impacts how fast oxidation takes place.

When the weather is warm, the staling will be faster. That’s the reason why beers are kept cold. Apart from that, the ‘hoppiness’ in beers tends to diminish over time. So, the tropical, floral, or citrusy hop aromas found in beers disintegrate because hop aromas are time-sensitive.

Finally, light creates the so-called �skunky flavor’. The primary reason is that the chemicals present in hops react with ultraviolet light poorly. That’s why beer is packaged in cans and bottles to block lights.

What does a bad beer taste like?

To find out the difference in taste between a fresh and expired beer, you need to drink them both. In general, the shelf life of most beers is about four to six months. This is the time that brewers think the beer can retain good flavor and feels great when consumed.

So, when you taste them both, you can feel the difference instantly. The fresh beer will present a refreshing bitterness along with fresh hops flavor. However, the bottle that has expired will have a sweet, malty taste.

In short, it will feel more like a flat drink. Besides, the differences will be more if you taste a bottle that has been forgotten for a few years. Still, wondering does beer go bad after some time? Yes, it will after a specific timeframe.

What is the average shelf-life of beer?

You should know that all beers go bad the same way always. It depends on several factors such as composition and how it is made apart from how it is packed and stored. Besides, beers having 8% and above alcohol by volume, taste better with age.

That way, these kinds of beers have a shelf-life of a few years. However, you have to take appropriate steps to store them the right way. In addition, opened beer usually has a short lifespan. That’s because it goes flat when you break the air-tight seal. Even when you refrigerate it, the results will be the same.

Typically, sealed beers have a shelf-life of about six to eight months without the need to put them in a refrigerator. Moreover, when you refrigerate and store them properly, sealed beers can last for up to twelve months even after expiration.

Can you drink expired beer?

Beer is a kind of drink that becomes bad when it is exposed to heat, oxygen, and light. These are the conditions that degrade the ingredients present in beer. That way, if the ingredients that make beer taste and smell great perishes, it won’t be of any good.

So, is it safe to drink expired beer? While the beer’s flavor is declining, you can still have it because it is safe to drink. Most beers that you come across are either filtered or pasteurized to eliminate bacteria. However, what the beer tastes like is another issue.

At worst, you may experience mild stomach upset after consuming expired pasteurized beer. Many bottled and canned beers are pasteurized the same way as other food products. The bottles and cans are run through the hot water spray. With 140-degrees and above temperature, it is enough to kill bacteria.

Also, it prevents the formation of yeast that the beer already had. On the other hand, unpasteurized beer isn’t subjected to the procedure mentioned above. Most brewers producing craft beers skip the pasteurization step.

That way, they retain the beer’s quality and freshness. Unpasteurized beer is best to be consumed fresh before the expiration date possible. It isn’t recommended to consume stale unpasteurized beer at any cost because that will make you sick for sure.

How to store beer properly

There is no denying that beer is delicate and there are many things that make it go bad. So, ensure that every beer that you buy tastes better by following some basic tips.


Not only does refrigeration protects the beer from direct sunlight but also it keeps the beer cold. Experts suggest that the perfect room temperature for storing beer should be 50 to 55 degrees. Besides, you can store sealed cans and bottles in cold conditions.

Store them in a dark place

When you decide to keep beer at room temperature, it is wise to pick a dark, cool room that has minimal temperature fluctuations. As such, basements are a great place to store your beer for some time.

Allow it to stand upright

If you keep beers lying on their side, they get a larger surface area, and chances of oxidation increase. So, when you keep the beers stand upright, only the top surface gets exposed to air reducing chances of oxidation to a great extent. And, it works for both freshly crafted and commercially manufactured beer.

Dan Specht

Dan has been homebrewing beer for 8 years and holds a level 2 certifiication as a Cicerone.

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