Can You Drink Expired Beer? (Info on Expiration & Best By Dates)

Just like any other drink, beer has its own shelf life. Many don’t think about that and just drink any type of beer without looking for an expiration date. But the truth is that yes, beer doesn’t last forever. 

Beer is generally okay to drink after the expiration date but hop flavor will fade and off-flavors will develop the longer beer is past date. The flavor of hoppy beers such as IPAs will start to suffer shortly after expiration while stronger, less hop-forward beers will last longer.

With that in mind, it’s safe to drink expired beer, but there can be some downsides, which we will discuss later in this article.

Does beer have an expiration date or a best-by date

The thing to note when it comes to beer expiration dates is that the more alcohol your beer has, the more time it takes to expire.

That’s why low alcohol by volume beers are the ones that will go bad in just 6 months. Beers that have a high ABV value, like stouts or lambics, are those beers that can age and taste even better after a few years. It all comes down to storing them correctly, and results can be positive. 

If you open the beer and leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours, the taste of it may change. That’s why you should drink it all and not store part for later. Seems simple, but many people do not consider the effects of storing an open beer. 

It’s important to keep in mind that beermakers must write the expiration date on the bottle or can. So, if you want to know how old your beer really is, you just have to look at its packaging.

Granted, the expiry date location will differ for every producer, but usually, you can find it somewhere on the bottle or can. Commercial producers are required by law to show the expiry date, so that’s not something they can hide or overlook. 

When is the best-by date for beer?

Generally, you can expect low-alcohol beers to be good within the first 6 months after they were bottled. After that, they can go bad, then you should stay away from them.

You should keep in mind that beer is made from organic plant ingredients, and these will eventually decay. 

As time goes by, the oxygen amount changes the beer, as it starts the oxidation process. In some cases, malty beers can develop toffee, caramel, or grainy tones. That’s why keeping beers cold is important since the cold temperature helps them maintain the right properties.

As we mentioned earlier, when it comes to high ABV beers, these can be suitable to drink within 3-4 years after they are bottled. In fact, they can get better with age. 

Can you drink beer past the best by date?

In many cases, if you drink a beer shortly past the expiration date, you won’t feel any major difference. It depends on how close you are to the expiration date. In fact, most people just have nausea or a stomach ache, which are common side-effects of consuming an expired product. 

However, if you see that the bottle or can is compromised, if the beer smells bad or there is something strange floating around, it’s a good idea to avoid drinking that beer.

Otherwise, you should be fine.

If the beer in question is in a properly sealed container, you should be more than okay. Your beer’s low oxygen levels, low sugar supply, and alcohol content tend to deter fungal or bacterial growth. But it’s all a matter of what beer you drink, when it expired, and how you can assess possible spoilage. 

What is a “born on” date for beer?

Normally, beer makers will share the expiration date on the beer can or bottle.

There’s a trend called “born on,” where cans and bottles have the date they were brewed written on the can or bottle in a very specific code.

Budweiser supposedly started this trend, but other companies started using it as well. It’s a clever idea because you get to see when the beer was brewed, and you can “guesstimate” when it might actually expire. 

Why do companies share the “born on” date? 

Because every beer is different, and many people would just throw out the cans once the beer reaches a certain date. The truth is that beer might actually still be suitable for drinking. This is why sharing the brewing date on the can or bottle is a much better idea. 

When does beer expire?

Every beer should have an expiration date on its packaging.

In most cases, beer will have an expiration date somewhere between 3-12 months after its bottling date.

However, most beers are good for drinking even if they went well beyond that expiration date. In fact, beer will last anywhere from 6 to 9 months after the expiry date shared on its label. On top of that, if the beer is refrigerated, it can actually last up to 24 months after the expiry date. However, if the beer quality is lower than what you might expect, there might be some unwanted flavors in there as well. 

Can you drink beer past the expiration date?

Generally, it’s okay to drink beer a couple months past the expiration date. Just make sure that it did not expire a year ago, as its taste and quality will have changed a lot.

With that in mind, most people won’t get sick if they drink some expired beer. Of course, if the beer is very old and went through oxidation, the taste and composition are noticeably different. 

What are the worst things that can happen if you drink beer past its expiration date? 

Normally, you might encounter a head- or stomach ache. In some cases, you can even encounter nausea and vomiting. That’s why you want to avoid drinking beer past the expiration date, since there can be some downsides. 

What does expired beer taste like?

Expired beer is known to be less carbonated, and the flavors are off. If the beer has expired just a few days ago, you won’t feel much difference, if any.

In fact, any of the major differences appear after half a year or more. That’s why it still makes sense to drink beer which just expired a few days or weeks ago. The more months your beer has expired, the more problematic the issue becomes. 

Can expired beer make you sick?

For the most part, you will be fine if you drink expired beer. Naturally, you should avoid it if possible, but if the beer is newly expired, you won’t taste much difference.

That being said, old beer expired a few years ago is not okay, since its entire structure might have changed. At least, it will taste very different, and not in a good way. You can have issues like vomiting, nausea, and stomach problems.

What to do with expired beer?

There are multiple things to do with expired beer. If the beer in question is newly expired, you can just go ahead and drink it, since it won’t cause harm. The expiry date is just a potential date when the ingredients might not have the same quality. This is just an estimate, so not a hard deadline. 

You can also find various recipes that use expired beer. So, in case your beer is expired, using it for cooking can be an option. However, the best thing you can do if your beer expired (many months ago) is to just throw it away.

As we mentioned earlier, drinking it can result in a number of temporary, but uncomfortable health issues, even if minor. Handling that appropriately is still important, and throwing beer away is the right approach in a situation like this.

Aside from that, expired beer can be used in a multitude of ways. You can use it to clean wooden furniture, get rid of carpet stains, remove rust from tools and items. It’s even a good option for creating a hair or face mask!

How can you store your beer to make it last for a long time?

It’s very important to ensure that your beer is stored in a cold location.

Extra heat leads to faster oxidation, which reduces the shelf life of your beer. In addition, oxygen exposure will lead to flavor molecule breakdown. If your beer is exposed to oxygen, its taste can become sour or even similar to cardboard, in some cases. 

Keep in mind that UV light can be very problematic for any type of beer. It promotes a “skunky” taste and smell, which you want to avoid.

Keeping beer away from light exposure is crucial if you want it to retain the best taste. 

How can you store your beer to make it last for a long time?

Drinking expired beer is possible, and in most cases, it won’t affect your health. It’s crucial to understand the effects of aging on your particular beer type. Some beers are meant to be aged and stored for years, while others – like those with a low alcohol volume – can go bad in as little as 6 months. That’s why you need to check the label and note the expiration date. 

Always store your beer somewhere it will be consistently cool and dark to slow down the oxidation process and avoid skunking your beer.

It’s important to know that most beers will be good upwards of 6 months after their expiration date, but this depends on how you store it. So, you can drink expired beer, but it’s a good idea to check how old it is and how it was stored!

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