Does Beer Expire?

Beer is one of the most popular alcoholic drinks in the world. There’s nothing quite like cracking open a cold one at the end of the day, listening to the satisfying hiss of the bubbles, and taking that heavenly first gulp.

Perfect for game day, a summer’s evening, or just after work on a random Tuesday. 

Does Beer Expire?

If you’re a fan of beer, you’ve probably got a couple of bottles lingering in your refrigerator or pantry. You don’t want to waste the liquid by throwing it away, so it’s worth knowing how long you can keep beer without it going out of date. 

So, does beer expire? Can beer go bad, and can you drink beer after the best before date? 

If you want to know about how long you can keep beer for, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s everything you need to know about beer and its expiry! 

Does Beer Expire?

Let’s get into it. The short answer is no, beer does not expire. 

Beer isn’t the same as milk, which has a significantly shorter shelf life. It doesn’t expire, nor does it become unsafe to drink. The only change is that the taste of old beer won’t be the same as if you were to drink it fresh. 

The reason why beer does not expire is because of its brewing process. Beer is pasteurized during the process of fermentation, which kills off unwanted organisms.

Fully fermented beer is not an environment for bacteria or pathogens to thrive, so they simply cannot develop. 

This is largely due to the alcohol content in beer, but the low pH of beer and antimicrobial activity of the hops also has something to do with it.

It’s normal for some microbes to live in these fermented beers, but not enough for the microbes to be harmful. 

This means that if you have old beer lingering around your kitchen, consuming it isn’t going to be harmful for you. The only downside is that it might not taste as good. 

Does Beer Go Bad?

While beer does not expire, some beers can go bad. 

The general rule of thumb is that beers with a higher alcohol content will generally stay fresh for longer than beers with a lower alcohol content. The ABV of beer can range anywhere from 3% to 13%.

In short, a 3% old beer isn’t going to taste as good as a 13% old beer. 

This is because beverages with a higher alcohol content will generally taste better after the aging process. Some beers have deliberately been aged prior to selling for this reason, such as strong ales, pilsners, and some lagers. 

If the beer you have in your kitchen has a weaker potency, you should take a look at the expiration date.

Drinking the beer past the expiration date isn’t going to make you sick – it just means that the beer won’t taste as fresh as it normally would. 

Can I Drink Expired Beer?

Yes, you can drink expired beer. Expired beer isn’t going to make you sick. If anything, expired beer is probably not going to taste as good as it normally would if it was fresh. 

Expired beer with a low ABV will turn stale. Though this isn’t unsafe to drink, it means that it will provide no foam, and will taste predominantly sour.

It’s not going to be a pleasant experience, especially if you’re a lover of good beer. 

Does Beer Expire? (1)

How Do You Know If Beer Is Expired?

You will know if beer has expired by the appearance, smell, and taste. If it’s more bitter than usual, or perhaps doesn’t come with a satisfying foam, it’s likely that the beer is slightly out of date.

Nonetheless, it’s still safe to drink – just not as pleasant. 

How Long Does Beer Stay Fresh After Opening?

While unopened beer doesn’t expire, you don’t really want to leave your beer opened. The freshness isn’t going to last, because the moment the bottle or can is opened, the foam begins to disappear. 

It won’t be unsafe to drink a bottle of beer that has been opened for a few hours, but it won’t taste its best. 

Can The Packaging Of Beer Affect Its Quality?

The type of packaging of the beer isn’t likely to affect its quality. A lot of the time, beer has to be transported over long distances, whether this is via truck or airplane.

As a result, beer comes in two forms of packaging – bottles or cans. 

There are pros and cons to bottles and cans of beer. Everyone will have their own preference and opinion, but as long as you pour the beer from the bottle or can into a glass, then they will taste equally good.

Also, the expiration date of bottled and canned beer is the same, in which neither will expire. 

Bottled beer might be the more aesthetically pleasing option, but it’s generally the most impractical one for long-distance transportation.

Not only will the glass be more likely to shatter, but the see-through nature of the bottle can expose the beer to sunlight and air. This is especially true for bottle caps, which can easily be tampered with. 

Cans, on the other hand, are easier to transport and maintain the freshness of beer for longer periods of time. Some will argue that canned beer is more trustworthy than bottled beer in terms of freshness, because the beer has no access to sunlight or air. 

Either way, the quality of the beer isn’t going to change drastically depending on if it’s in a bottle or can. It mostly comes down to personal preference, because neither comes with an expiration date.

Just make sure to pour the beer into a glass before drinking it, so you don’t taste the remnants of aluminum or glass. 


So, there you have it! Hopefully, this guide has taught you everything to know about beer and its so-called expiry date. Beer does not expire, but it just won’t taste as great if you leave it for too long.
Mark Williams
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