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How Long Does Beer Last In The Fridge?

Norah Clark
Selection of beers in a supermarket store's fridge.

Beer stored at the correct temperature can last up to nine months in a fridge, although the actual shelf life depends on the expiration date shown on the can or bottle.

Many people worldwide relish a laid-back moment with a cold beverage in hand. Yet, some may not know that beer can spoil over time.

Storing it in the fridge might seem like a guarantee of longevity, but that’s not always the case.

With time, beer’s quality degrades, eventually becoming undrinkable.

Whether you enjoy incorporating beer into recipes, savoring it as an occasional refreshment, or both, it’s wise to know how long beer can stay fresh in the fridge.

After all, no one wants a ruined evening due to expired beer consumption.

You can usually find the beer’s expiration date at the bottom (for cans) or on the neck (for bottles). Occasionally, it may be printed on the label.

Keep in mind that beer’s expiration date is not a strict “use-by” date, so it can still be consumed for several months past that point.

How Long Does Beer Last In The Fridge?

Some might assume that beer longevity varies depending on whether it’s in cans or bottles.

However, the shelf life of beer is relatively consistent.

When bottled, canned, or homemade beer is kept in the fridge, your beer should last at least 6 months to 2 years.

Nonetheless, nobody wants a lukewarm beverage that’s been sitting in the pantry for most of the year.

Storing beer in the fridge is a popular choice and helps protect its quality.

Beer in beer fridges. Credit: Unsplash
Beer in beer fridges. Credit: Unsplash

While some beers may not withstand the test of time, refrigeration is the best way to preserve them. So, if you buy a large batch of beer, you can save it for future enjoyment.

However, it’s essential to recognize the signs of stale beer. It's important to be aware of the appearance, smell, and taste.

Read also: How Long Does It Take Beer To Freeze?

How Can You Tell If Beer Is Spoiled?

Thankfully, it’s relatively simple to identify stale beer.

Usually, you can detect it by smell, sound, or, in the worst case, taste.

Upon opening your beverage, if the typical beer-opening sound is absent, that’s your first hint that it may not be safe to drink.

Similarly, many expect a little foam to appear when opening a bottle. No foam indicates the beer is expired and best avoided.

With beer bottles in your possession, you can discern if the beer is still good. If the bottle seems dirty, not due to dust but something internal, exercise caution when consuming it.

The label might discolor, and there could be leakage around the bottle cap. These signs indicate that the drink has been exposed to heat and is unsafe for consumption.

Another factor to examine is the bottle’s label. If there’s dust at the bottom, dispose of the entire beer bottle.

If you decide to taste the beer, it will likely be unpleasant. Often, the flavor is bland and sour.

At this point, it may be unsafe to consume. Instead of risking your health, purchase a new beer bottle.

Can An Expired Beer Make You Feel Sick?

No! Expired or spoiled beer won’t make you sick.

This is because beer undergoes fermentation and filtration processes, eliminating harmful bacteria. Thus, it’s unlikely to cause illnesses, food poisoning, or severe side effects.

The worst outcome from a spoiled beverage might be an upset stomach.

What Contributes To Beer Spoilage?

Four main factors contribute to beer spoilage:

  • Temperature: Warm temperatures cause good beer to spoil quickly.
  • Air: Oxidation can make beer go sour.
  • Light: Beer should not be exposed to sunlight, as it can spoil.
  • Distance from the brewery: The farther the beer is from its brewing location, the faster it will spoil.

How To Keep Your Beer Fresh

If you’ve purchased a large case of beer and worry about it staying fresh until you finish it, there are several steps you can take to ensure your drink’s shelf life lasts as long as possible.

Like many alcoholic beverages, it’s crucial to store beer in a cool place, such as the rear of a refrigerator where temperature fluctuations are minimal.

Beer is particularly sensitive to significant temperature changes, so avoid placing it in the fridge door, which experiences both cold and ambient temperatures upon opening.

It’s essential to keep beer upright whenever possible. Unlike corked wines that require horizontal storage, beer should be stored vertically.

This practice helps slow oxidation and prevents contamination from the beer cap. As long as beer cans and bottles are stored upright in your fridge and adequately maintained, they should last a considerable time before becoming stale.

Checking the date printed on your favorite beer bottles is an effective way to determine if the beer is nearing spoilage or will remain fresh for a while.

Read also: Cooking With Beer – A Chef’s Guide

How Long Is Unrefrigerated Beer Good For?

Some individuals might be unable or unwilling to store their beverages in a fridge. If that’s the case, it’s essential to keep your beer in a cool, dark area.

A temperature-controlled environment is ideal, and choosing beers in dark bottles is preferable if you plan not to refrigerate them.

Dark bottles help block UV radiation, which is highly detrimental to your drink. Sun exposure, especially direct sunlight, can initiate a chemical reaction within an hour, potentially spoiling the beer.

Storing your beer outside of a fridge will certainly shorten its lifespan, so consider whether this is the right decision for you.

Unrefrigerated beer typically lasts between six to nine months, but in some cases, it may only remain fresh for four to six months. The quality could also suffer depending on the beer’s sun exposure.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does beer expire if it's never opened?

Beer can expire even if it’s not opened, as exposure to light, heat, and air can all affect the quality and taste of beer over time. While unopened beer can last for several months to a few years if stored properly, it’s best to check the expiration date on the label and consume it within a reasonable time frame for the best taste.

How can you tell if beer has expired?

You can tell if the beer is expired by checking the expiration date on the label. Additionally, expired beer may have a sour or off flavor, a cloudy appearance, or visible sediment in the bottle or can. If the beer smells or tastes off, it’s best to err on the side of caution and discard it.

How long does unopened beer last in the fridge?

Unopened beer can last for several months to a few years in the fridge, depending on the type of beer and its alcohol content. Light beers and low-alcohol beers typically have a shorter shelf life, while higher-alcohol beers and stouts can last for several years. It’s always best to check the expiration date on the label for an idea of how long the beer will last.

Can beer go bad in a fridge?

While refrigeration can help extend the shelf life of beer, it can still go bad over time. Exposure to light, heat, and air can all affect the quality of beer, even if it’s stored in the fridge. It’s best to consume beer before the expiration date or within a few months of purchase for optimal taste.

Profile Image Norah Clark

Norah Clark

Norah Clark, Editor of Boyd Hampers! Norah is a food writer with over a decade of experience in hospitality as a pastry chef, sous chef, and barista; former chef at the Savoy Hotel, Ritz Carlton, Four Seasons and Plaza Hotel.

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