Does Beer Expire? What You Should Know & Do About It

by Karl | Last Updated: May 2, 2020

The Beer that You Bought – When Does it Expire?

Did you know that in 2018, U.S. beer industry saw sales of over 202.2 million barrels of beer? Beer’s popular the world over – however, how do you store it?

All of us, at some point, have wondered about the quality of beer after it’s said to have “gone bad”. Does beer really expire? If not, then what exactly happens once it goes beyond its mentioned expiration date? These are some of the questions that shall be discussed here. 

We look to explain the myths surrounding. As a beer aficionado, for instance, you need to be aware of what is healthy and tasty, especially because alcohol costs a bomb.

Does beer expire?

First things first- beer does not really expire. It does go bad though. To understand the difference better, let us understand that beer is basically alcohol. This alcohol percentage is calculated in terms of Alcohol by Volume or ABV. Beers generally have an ABV between 3 and 13. Beers that have higher alcohol content, meaning those lying towards the higher end of this spectrum, generally stay fresh and consumable for a longer time. 

There are beers that have and can be aged, example the Indian Pale Ale and most strong ales, lagers and pilsners. These are very strong and can obviously not be consumed on a regular basis. But the beers with weaker potencies do have an expiration date which needs to be adhered to. They are the ones that lose their fresh taste.

What happens if we drink expired beer?

Nothing much, except probably a lifelong revulsion to beer of any kind shall develop. It is the right kind of sourness, acidity and effervescence that makes up any beer when it is fresh. Upon exceeding its expiration date, the beer will turn stale. There will be no foam left and sourness shall become the dominant flavour. You really wouldn’t want to put such a foul substance in your mouth.

How does the Packaging of Beer affect its Quality?

The answer is-in multiple ways. With the advent of procuring of obscure beer, online delivery and even for retail purposes, beer has to be transported over long distances. Sometimes this transportation even takes place via flight. For this reason, we have two kinds of packaging –bottles and cans. Both are equally loved by consumers but there are pros and cons to each kind of packaging. 

Which one should you buy? Which one makes more sense for your budget? 

The bottle packaging is extremely impractical when we wish to transport beer over long distances which shall expose them to sunlight and air. Let’s also not forget that these bottles are primarily made of glass which does not help their case anyway. 

They are tough to take care of and chances of damage and the beer losing its freshness are high. Who can forget that glass is also not quite environment-friendly and is not as frequently recycled as we would want it to be.

To counter this, let’s look at how cans are basically taking over the market. They are obviously in vogue due to advertisements that have celebrities chugging drinks in them. 

Apart from the aesthetic satisfaction, cans provide for easy transportation and also retain the effervescence and freshness of the beer due to non-exposure to sunlight. It works for and with your beer in more ways than one. 

Additionally, cans have a smaller carbon footprint than bottles and are made out of more recycled material than bottles, so we know which way to go if going green is our resolution.

How long does beer stay fresh after opening?

Ideally you should open the beer only when you actually wish to drink it because it loses foam as soon as it is opened. After that it shall not taste as sharp as it might have in the first few seconds after opening. While opening and leaving it in the refrigerator for a few hours won’t make it inconsumable, it will definitely not taste its best.

How do we store beer?

The most important things to be kept in mind while storing beer are:

Keep the bottle/can upright:

Why? This will allow the yeast to settle down and allow the beer to develop its original flavour. Storing beer on its side is a myth. This will create a yeast ring which will cause it to taste awful.

Store it in a cool place:

Ideally refrigeration is the best way to do it. Even room temperature is not the way to go. You will only speed up its organic decaying by allowing it exposure to any sort of heat. But, also be careful not to keep it in the freezer, because like water, beer can also freeze and that’s not your ideal way to consume it.

Keep it in a dark place:

As mentioned above, sunlight definitely does not have a positive effect on beers or else why would suppliers go the extent of using cans? Keep beer away from heat and light. Period. Nobody needs flat, sour, bad beer after a long, hot day at work. So keep it cool, in the dark and fresh.

Conclusion

These are some of the myths and ill-information surrounding beer. We have tried to dispel some of them and make you understand that beer, to be enjoyed at its optimum needs to be stored and checked well. 

Keep track of the bottles or cans at your place and try not to drink them after they have gone past their expiration date. Else, be ready to bid adieu to your love for this beverage because it’s never going to taste the same to you again. Save yourself some trauma and be an informed beer consumer. Take these small steps to ensure that nothing happens to your precious, expensive beverage. 

 

Lead marketer, brewer, dad, and husband. Pretty much an all-round awesome guy.