If beer is sealed in a bottle, does it ever expire? The quick answer is yes, it can. The longer answer is that this depends on the situation…
A beer’s life isn’t over as soon as it is fermented and bottled. Beer, much like wine, will continue to age and change as time passes. Beers are at their peak of flavor right after bottling, but in a few months, things begin to go downhill. Oxidation begins, the flavor of the beer begins to fade, and the proteins in the drink that have given it an appropriate body begin to begin to break up.
Does Beer Expire or Go Bad?
Saying that beer expires isn’t quite accurate. The drink doesn’t become unsafe to drink or spoil. Instead, it only tastes flat, loses much of its flavor, and isn’t all that appealing to drink.
You’ve likely seen your beers marked with an expiration date. Almost all cans and bottles come with expiration dates, which means that on a technical level, yes, the beer does expire. However, it doesn’t spoil like other perishable foods in your fridge may.
Instead, the quality of the beer decreases dramatically over time, which changes the flavor and body of the beverage. If you open a beer and note that it doesn’t taste as fresh or that it’s lost its carbonation, it’s wise to check its expiration date. It may be past the date that it would be best to consume it by.
Luckily, drinking a beer that has passed this date will not harm you, although it may taste pretty awful. In fact, beer (in moderation) has been proven to have some health benefits. If you take the time to store your beer correctly, and the bottles or cans aren’t damaged, it should be safe to drink. Without proper storage and temperature, the worst that could happen is that you may wind up with a stomach ache if the beer is quite old.
Some beers, like lambics, barleywines, and imperial stouts, tend to taste better with time, much like a fine wine. Typically, the stronger or darker than a beer is, the better it will age. However, we certainly don’t recommend trying to age a Corona or Bud Lite.
How Long Does Beer Last For?
The length of time a beer is good for will depend on the type of beer, brewing conditions, and storage. Many craft beers that are stored at a consistent temperature and out of light will stay fresh for around a year before the start to taste bad. Check for an expiration date or bottling date and the label of the bottle, too. Most breweries have begun to print this information on the bottles or the labels.
Some types of beer, especially ales that are bottle-conditioned and have an alcohol content higher than 9%, can be aged for a longer period of time. They will go through the same flavor and structure breakdown, but this process has been calculated to make the beer taste better. The bitterness of the hops fades, and the malts begin to take on a deeper flavor, more like honey. In addition, more flavors begin to appear that you may not have been able to perceive before.
How To Store Beer to Extend Shelf Life
It’s best to keep beer in the fridge, especially if you bought it when it had already been refrigerated. Changes in temperatures are not good for beer. It’s essential to keep a constant temperature to maintain appropriate shelf life, especially if they are intended to be chilled consistently. Coors, for example, uses the “best by date” that is scheduled for 17-26 weeks after the beer was bottled, and is calculated based on a consistently cold temperature. At the time of writing this article, our office uses the stainless steel Danby 120 can fridge. Not sure why they call it a beverage center; interesting choice of words…
In addition, bottled beer should be kept stored upright in order to decrease oxidation and limit any type of contamination from the cap. There’s a nifty magnet for inside your fridge by TORO that has some fun appeal. If you do choose not to keep your beer in the fridge, make sure that you keep it at a constant temperature in a cool, dark place. If you’re attempting to increase the shelf life of your beer, it’s best to purchase a product that was bottled in a dark bottle, as these bottles block ultraviolet light, which can break down the beer over time. The worst place for storing beer is in direct sunlight, as the sun creates a chemical reaction in the liquid in as little as one hour, especially if it is in a clear bottle.
How Can You Tell if a Beer has Gone Bad?
You can often tell if you open the bottle if your beer is spoiled. If you open a bottle, you should hear the normal sound of carbonation releasing, indicating that your beer is good to drink. You should also see a bit of white foam coming from the beer after its opening; the absence of this foam is a sign that your beer may have spoiled.
If the beer is bottled, you can also check for additional signs, like a discolored label, dusty bottle, or liquid seeping out around the cap. Other signs that a beer may be expired is that the color of the beer may have changed, or you may see sediment in the bottom of the bottle. These may be signs that the beer has gone bad, or that it may taste spoiled or flat.
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