Can you drink expired beer?

In this brief blog, we will answer the query,”Can you drink expired beer?” We will also discuss if beer goes bad and how to properly store beer.

Can you drink expired beer?

Yes, you can drink expired beer as it is harmless and non-toxic. During the beer making process, beer usually passes through pasteurization and filtration processes which kills most of the bacteria and therefore beer is well resistant to spoilage.

However, the taste profile of expired beer will be different from fresh beer as it will taste unpleasant and flat. This is because as beer continues to age it also changes in the bottle and tends to lose its flavor as well as other key characteristics. Expired beer is however still safe for consumption and you shouldn’t toss it.

In order to prolong the shelf life of beer ensure that you keep it in a cool and dark place away from any direct sunlight. The storage temperature is largely dependant on the type of beer.

For instance, standard beers such as IPAs or stouts should be stored at temperatures between 50 degrees Fahrenheit and 54 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius to 12 degrees Celsius) while lighter beers such as pilsner and lagers should be stored at cooler temperatures.

Does beer go bad?

Similar to a lot of other foods, beer is produced from organic plant materials that will degrade and decay over time. Brewing companies usually try to elongate the shelf life of beer as much as possible and they usually have some advantages.

Some of the advantages are the alcohol content of the beer, the low pH which inhibits microbial growth and also the antimicrobial activity of the hops. When beer is properly brewed, it only contains the ingredients and small amounts of air.

You cannot package beer without some small amounts of oxygen getting in the bottles or cans. The oxygen with time changes the beer through a process that is known as oxidation. It can impart a stale flavor that tastes like cardboard. 

Malty beers tend to develop a sweet and grainy note when oxidized. There are factors that accelerate oxidation with temperature being one of them. If you store your beer in a place that’s warm, it oxidizes faster and develops a stale taste.

This is why you should ensure that you keep your beer in a dark place away from any direct sunlight and also cold.

The ‘hoppiness’ of a beer also gets depleted with time. The aromatic and tropical hop aromas that are characteristic in hop forward beers get depleted with time.

Light as previously mentioned is another factor that contributes to beers going bad. Chemicals present in hops usually react with UV light and stale the beer, this is why beer comes in brown bottles and cans so as to block the light.

How should I store beer?

Bottles and cans

If you have beer that is packaged in bottles and cans ensure that you store it in a cool and dry place. To prolong its shelf life, it is best that you store it at temperatures between 45 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

If it’s a bottle of beer, ensure that the bottle is stored upright. You can prolong the shelf life of canned and bottled beers by storing them above room temperature and just below freezing.

Kegs

Kegs usually oxidize and go bad much faster than bottled and canned beer. You should therefore ensure that you use keg beer as soon as possible.

Kegs should be stored in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight and other foods. Avoid freezing the kegs as this can change the taste profile. You should also avoid moving the kegs around as this can increase the foaming and they will spurt when you tap the keg.

Conclusion

In this brief blog, we have answered the query,”Can you drink expired beer?” We have also discussed if beer goes bad and how to properly store beer.

Citations

https://www.cooksillustrated.com/how_tos/6057-drinking-expired-beer

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