A lot of factors go into making beer excellent, but what makes beer go bad? Does beer last forever? There’s no quick answer for that, but we have solutions to keep your drinking experience enjoyable and savory.
So, Does Beer Expire?
Beer does go bad. Like wine, beer continues to age after it’s been bottled. Beer is at its peak of freshness and flavor the first few months of bottling. Then, well, things start to decline:
- Flavor fades
- Oxidation occurs
- Beer body (a.k.a. protein structure) starts to break down
But does beer actually expire? No. Beer doesn’t spoil or become unsafe to drink. However, we don’t recommend drinking beer that is flat, tasteless, or disagreeable.
How Long Before Beer Expires?
It boils down to this for canned beer, bottled beer, and homemade beer:
- Pantry Shelf Life: 6 – 9 Months
- Fridge Shelf Life: 6 Months – 2 years
How Can You Tell If Beer Expired?
You can tell right away when you pop open the seal:
- Your beer doesn’t make the fresh “pssst” sound when you open it
- Lack of white foam rising as soon as you open it
You can also check the bottle for clues:
- A dusty bottle
- A discolored label
- Seepage around the cap (indicated heat abuse)
- Change of beer color
- Dusty settlement in the bottom of the bottle
What About That Date on the Bottle?
The date on most beer bottles isn’t the expiration date. It’s the pull date. Retailers are instructed to pull beers off the shelf if they haven’t been sold yet. Why? If the beer hasn’t sold by that date, many brewers don’t consider the beer “brewery fresh” and worthy to be sold to customers.
Ways to Keep Beer From Expiring
- Keep the beer in a cool-dark place or in the fridge, especially if purchased refrigerated
- Store the beer upright to decrease the oxidation process and cap contamination
- Choose beer bottled in dark bottles that reflect ultraviolet rays
- Avoid direct sunlight, especially if the bottle is clear
What Do I Do If My Beer Expires?
It sounds like you need to hit the Flagstaff-Grand Canyon Ale Trail! That’s where you’ll find cold brews at your favorite Flagstaff breweries that are always served fresh. And with all the discounts you can get, it’s better than drinking flat beer at home.