Does beer go bad? The straightforward answer is yes, but there’s much more to explore.
Canned and bottled beer can last longer than its expiration date when stored in a proper environment. Why is that? The key is knowing how to maintain its flavors than only keep it safe to drink.
You will experience many “ah-ha” moments after understanding how beer is made. Here’s a short guide to digging into the details:
How is beer made?
Reliefs on Egyptian tombs show that beer making can be dated back to Ancient Egyptian times. The cakes, made from crushed barley or partly germinated barley mixed with water, were used to extract flavors by microorganisms during fermentation.
In modern times, beer brewing has been standardized as a large-scale industry. Beer is extracted from a set of automated computer-controlled stainless-steel brewing equipment with general standard ingredients: malting barley, hops, clean water, and yeast. Beer brewing involves several processes: malting (steeping-germination-kilning), mashing (milling-mixing the mash-separating the wort), boiling and fermenting (boiling-hops-heating and cooling), fermentation, maturation and packaging.
During the mashing process, enzymes are dissolved to convert complex carbohydrates and starch molecules into simple sugar. At a certain temperature, these special enzymes become very active.
During fermentation, yeast converts simple sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and different flavor compounds. That’s the reason beer is carbonated naturally.
When the fermentation is fully completed, it provides a low PH environment in which pathogens that cause diseases are not able to survive, while a few other non-harmful microbes can still survive in the beer with a low PH condition created by alcohol and hops.
Smoothness and sweetness to the beer are extracted from the second fermentation process. The entire fermentation process takes about 5 days to complete.
For convenient storage and transportation, beer is usually canned or bottled packed.
Image: © Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
How long does beer last at room temperature?
How long does unopened beer last at room temperature?
According to several breweries, beers can last from 9 months up to 2 years (‘best by’-date) under a proper condition. Oxidation accelerates in a sunlight and heat exposure environment. To maintain the best tastes, breweries suggest a storage and transportation condition at 5-25 degrees Celsius.
Here’s a simple chart of the general shelf life of beer:
“Expired” beer won’t make you sick, but they start to lose the freshness and flavors. A consistent cool environment can extend its ‘best by’-date by preventing oxidization. That’s one of the reasons beer should be stored at a specific temperature range.
An important note about expiration date (‘best by’-date):
Our shelf life resources come from the products’ label in the supermarket. The shelf life information is generally reliable. However, individual cases vary depending on personal health conditions. Please remember that the information given should only be taken as a reference but not professional advice concerning health care.
How long does opened beer last at room temperature?
After the beer is opened, oxidization starts no matter where you would store it. Generally, the tastes and aromas of beer begin to fade away. Heat gives the oxidization a boost in a room temperature condition. More importantly, direct light can break down the beer’s flavors as it kills the chemical reactions of hops in the beer. That’s why beer is always packed in a light-blocking can or bottle.
Generally, opened beer should be finished within 30 minutes for its peak freshness. Otherwise, it should be finished within 48 hrs maximum. If you are not sure whether it’s still safe to drink it, the simplest way is to smell or taste it.
If you mind the stale tastes, get a new one!
How long does beer last in the fridge?
How long does unopened beer last in the fridge?
Given above, beer doesn’t really end its life on its “expiration date”. And there’s no doubt that all types of beer should be stored in a cool and dark place. The key is to keep your beer in a stable chilled condition.
For sure, a beverage fridge is the ideal chilled place to best lock up beer’s freshness, flavors, characters, and sweetness, more than only extending its general shelf life (generally 6 to 8 months past the expiration date).
To pursue its perfect tastes, it’s essential to check the suggested storage and best-served condition as different beer varies.
How long does opened beer last in the fridge?
Theoretically, opened beer stored in the fridge lasts a bit longer than in a room temperature condition. Also, the beer’s body remains longer without the damage to the liquid from the light and heat.
However, oxidation still goes on once the canned or bottled beer is opened. Bacteria start reproduction in a warm condition with air and liquid or food.
The purpose behind the fridge is to slow down the bacteria’s breeding by cooling down the environment in which they can’t survive.
For a better health care perspective, opened beer shouldn’t be kept for more than 48 hours even though it’s in a chilled condition.
If you love cooking, it would be a good idea to consider it in your cooking recipes.
A few key takeaways to let you enjoy your beer with the best tastes:
- Always store your beer in a cool environment at 5-25 degrees Celsius.
- Keep them away from sunlight and heat.
- A mini fridge or compact refrigerator would be the ideal place to keep your beef fresh.
- Served your beer cold, varying from 3 - 15 degrees Celsius depending on beers.
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