Who doesn’t love cracking open a cold beer and enjoying it after a hard day of work? Especially after super hot days, there’s nothing like an ice-cold beer to quench your thirst and hit the spot.
But what’s worse than opening up a beer, pouring a glass, preparing for that first refreshing sip — and ultimately tasting something sour, musty, or just “off” about your drink? Yes, an expired beer is no fun for anyone.
Whether you are an avid beer drinker or not, it’s important to stay on top of the freshness of your beverages. After all, it would be embarrassing to invite friends over for a party, only to discover that the case of beer that’s been sitting in your kitchen has gone bad.
If you have questions about when beer expires and are looking for additional tips for properly storing beer, read this article and find out when beer expires.
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Does Beer Expire?
The truth is, a lot of people simply do not realize that beer has an expiration date. After all, people may think that a fermented beverage has unique longevity. But unlike spirits — which can last for quite a long time — beer does ultimately expire.
When Does Beer Expire?
The answer to when beer expires actually depends on a few factors — including the type of drink, and where and how it is stored. According to Brewer World, many beers can last about half a year without refrigeration — but up to a year longer if refrigerated.
However, there are a number of factors that can affect the lifespan of a given beer.
Type of Beer
One of these factors is the type of beer being consumed — and particularly the alcohol by volume (ABV) content of a given beer. Beers with a higher alcohol content — say, closer to 10% — will, like wine and spirits, usually improve with age (so long as they are stored well). Beers with lower alcohol content, on the other hand, may not necessarily “expire” quickly. However, their quality and taste may change in a matter of months.
Manner of Storage
Naturally, how you store your beer is a major factor in whether it expires. There are a few consistent rules of thumb to take into account when storing beer for best results.
- Temperature is a major factor in the longevity of any type of beer. A beer that is stored at a cooler, more stable temperature will last longer than one that is stored somewhere warm. If possible, refrigeration is the most reliable way to maintain beer for the long term. If that is not possible, keeping it somewhere cool and consistent in temperature and humidity, like a basement, can also be effective.
- Light is another important detail to consider when storing your beer. Beer exposed to direct sunlight (or UV light more broadly) can quickly deteriorate in quality. Sometimes they can become “skunked,” developing a funky, sour taste.
- Finally, the position in which you store your beer is also important. Beer stored upright may be more likely to last longer, as there is less chance of oxidation (because all air is concentrated at the top of the bottle or can).
Where It’s From
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors that are more or less out of your hands when buying beer — and some of these can also affect quality. One of these is the distribution process. Beer that’s traveled a longer distance simply has more opportunity to fluctuate in temperature, to frequently change positions, and overall has more time to become staler. If, for instance, a case of beer has arrived at a store on a hot day and has sat out for an hour or two before going in the cooler, it may have suffered damage.
Kegs, Glass Bottles, and Cans
The type of container for your beer can also affect quality. Kegs and cans are generally the most reliable methods for preserving beer, as they effectively keep out all light. When it comes to glass, there is some variability, with darker types of glass being more effective than lighter types.
Big Vs. Small Breweries
Finally, the type of brewery can be a factor in how fast beer expires. Major breweries tend to have streamlined, carefully calibrated processes that are overall less prone to error. Sometimes problems slip in, but the process is so standardized that quality issues may be less likely.
Craft breweries, on the other hand, tend to be smaller operations, with less rigid methods of production, and potentially more opportunities for gaps in quality control. This is not to say craft beer is bad — as anyone who likes beer made in Texas knows, there are unique flavors and brewing styles that can really only be found when buying from a craft brewery. However, depending on certain factors — how long a brewery has been in operation, the level of experience of the operators, and the consistency of its operations — there may be more opportunities for spoilage when buying craft beer.
What To Do If You Think Beer Has Expired
A lot of people are reluctant to pour out or waste beer that they’ve purchased, even when it’s gone bad. But for health reasons, it’s best to pass on expired beer. While pasteurized beer is likely reasonably safe to consume, it probably won’t taste too good and could make you feel ill. Unpasteurized beer is considerably more dangerous and is much more likely to make you sick if it has expired.
So when in doubt, don’t drink beer that tastes or smells strange. Your best bet is to avoid buying too much beer at once and to be sure you drink it when it’s fresh.
Get Your Drinks From Zipps
It’s important to know when your favorite drinks expire so you can enjoy them at their best. Most liquors have a pretty long shelf life, but it’s always a good idea to check the label before buying. If you’re not sure where to find expiration dates for drinks, ask your local liquor store. They’ll be able to help you out.
Zipps Liquor is a great place to get drinks for any occasion. With a wide variety of liquors, beers, and wines, you’re sure to find something to fit your needs. And if you’re not sure what you’re looking for, our knowledgeable staff is always happy to help. So whether you’re planning a party or just stocking up your home bar, stop by Zipps Liquor Store and we’ll help you find exactly what you need. Cheers!