Does Beer Expire?

by breauxj10 | Last Updated: 16/01/2020

Today we ponder Does Beer Expire? Have you ever left an open beer bottle or can long enough to wonder does beer go bad when you return to it? Yeah, neither have we, though sometimes you forget about an open can and then return to it like an old friend. But is that can of delicious beer still your pal or has it turned to the dark side in your absence?

The simple answer to whether beer goes bad is yes. After a while, beer will expire. When this happens, the taste will change, and it may even make you sick to drink it. A beer that has expired could look and smell different. Most crucial of all, it may no longer give you a happy feeling that you want. In fact, at a certain point, you might as well be drinking non-alcoholic beer, and we think you’ll agree that’s just madness.

So, let’s dive on in to this issue and question, does beer expire? If so, what happens and when it happens.

When Does Beer Expire?

We’ll look at the unopened beer cans, bottles and the homemade beer that you might have in your basement first. You’ll be pleased to hear that unopened beer actually lasts quite a long time. Typically, in a panty, an unopened can, bottle or brew of homemade beer will last between six and nine months. That’s quite a long time and might make you think twice about buying or brewing massive amounts months in advance for say, the festive season. If you want your beer to last longer, you need to store it in the fridge. This will keep your beer tasting delicious for up to two years! You see, next time someone tells you to move your beer out the fridge to make way for fruit and veg you can tell them you’re protecting your investment. It’s not just about that ice-chilled refreshing taste. Keeping your beer in the fridge or a cooler is the smart choice.

Use By Or Best Before?

You might be worried about what happens to you if you drink expired beer? Will your foot drop off? will your skin turn green? Possibly but we wouldn’t bet on it since beer in bottles and cans actually has a best before date rather than a use-by date. This means that producers are quite happy for customers to drink their product after that date expires without suffering deadly or dangerous consequences. We’ll get to why that is further down.

Do be aware that the date is not actually when the beer goes bad. It’s likely that the beer will remain fine for about six to nine months after the before date. This is the same for virtually any product with a label like this.

So, Has Your Beer Gone Bad?

Well, first, check that use-by date. If it has been exceeded by more than a couple of months then yes, there’s a good chance that your delicious beer has expired. But there are other ways to tell. You probably know what should happen when you open a can or bottle or beer. After all, it’s the key point of virtually every beer commercial ever made.

When you crack open a can or bottle of beer, you’ll hear that comforting psst as the air escapes. Then the frothy, creamy head will rise up to the opening of the can or the bottle. It might even spill cheekily over the side, allowing you to get your first taste.

Well, this won’t happen if the beer is off. There’s no familiar sound, and there’s also no foam to be seen. Ultimately the beer will be lifeless, stagnant and lacking the joyful aesthetic that we are all so familiar with.


What about the taste? You might have found some expired beer in your home when hunting for alcohol, and now you’re wondering whether it’s worth taking the plunge. It can’t taste that bad right? The first thing you need to know is that it’s going to be flatter than a model’s stomach and it might also have a spoiled taste. This just means that you won’t get the delicious flavor that you’re used to. Instead, a beer that has gone off and been impacted by oxidation will have various unpleasant flavors including paper and cardboard.

While spoiled beer shouldn’t make you severely ill, it might not agree with you. You could feel a little queasy after drinking it, so it’s probably best to go on another beer run rather than bother with cans or bottles that have gone off.

What if there is no expiry date to be seen, do you need a complete a taste test? You can if you like, but usually, there will be more signs that beer is bad news. You might find that the label is old and worn or that there is a certain level of seepage around the gap. The beer itself could have changed color to look a little murkier and you might notice dust-like substance at the bottom.

What Makes Beer More Likely To Expire?

We think you’ll agree that beer is a precious product and you want to keep it healthy for as long as possible. How do you do this? It’s all about the way you store it, and we’ve already mentioned this briefly. Make sure that you keep your beer refrigerated for the best results. Furthermore, be aware that beer should not switch between different temperatures. Taking a beer from warm to cold or vice versa will impact how long it will remain fresh for. Instead, the temperature that you store beer at should be kept constant. It’s at this point that you might want to consider investing in a brand new fridge specifically for storing your beer. But it’s not just the temperature.

Storing Your Beer

You need to think about the way you store it in the fridge. For instance, it should always be kept upright rather than being kept on its side. The reason for this is that it reduces the oxidation process and ensures that the beer is not contaminated by the cap.

By storing it in the fridge, you’ll be keeping it in the dark. If you’re not storing it in a fridge make sure it is kept in the dark place. Light can impact the beer as well which is why when packaging your homemade beer you should favor dark bottles. These block UV light which can cause a chemical reaction.

You might be a bright spark and decide that the best way to protect your precious beer is to freeze it. That way it will last for decades, right? Well, not quite. When you freeze beer, you forget that if you want to drink it you have to wait for it to defrost. When it does the ice melting trickles water into the beer which dilutes it and can make it go flat. A fridge is still the best choice for storage.

Any Exceptions?

Yes, there are quite a few beers that are designed to age beautifully. These include imperial stouts, barleywines, lambics and a few others. Basically, they age like wine which means the longer you leave them, the better they should taste. Assuming once again that you do store them correctly this will prove to be true. However, and we can not emphasize this enough, that’s not true for all beers. Some people think that anything in a bottle is designed for long-term storage. All we can say is that you don’t want to try a Bud Lite after ten years in a fridge. A beer like this is actually at it it’s best around three to four months after being bottled. Be aware also that even beer designed to be stored for longer will eventually deteriorate in quality due to age.

Another key trait of beer designed to last longer is the alcohol content. Beers with a higher alcohol content will taste better for far longer compared with lighter beers.

Why Won’t Expired Beer Harm You?

Eat off food and, even if it has a best before date, it’s probably going to make you rather ill. You could definitely end up praying on your knees at the porcelain if, for instance, you decide to chow down on yogurt that is a couple of months out of date. But beer is different. The Ph of beer is high enough that no pathogens survive even months after the use-by date. As such, you can drink the disgusting liquid with a very low chance of any health issues. We’re not saving your life by telling you not to drink expired beer, we’re saving your taste buds.

We hope this helps next time you wonder does beer expire?