Can You Drink Expired Beer? (A Guide On Expiration And Best-By Dates)

Can you drink expired beer? What does the term ‘best by’ mean? How long can you store beer in the fridge before it goes bad?

Can You Drink Expired Beer? (A Guide On Expiration And Best-By Dates)

Beer is one of the oldest drinks known to man. In ancient times, brewers would add herbs and spices to their brews to improve flavor. Today, modern brewers use hops and other ingredients to give beers their distinctive flavors.

You can enjoy a cold beer anytime, anywhere, but you should always check the date on the bottle or can.

We put together a handy guide on beer and its expiration dates, with lots of tips on how to keep your beer taste better for longer.

Does Beer Have An Expiration Date?

All beers sold in stores must have an expiration date printed somewhere on the label. The exact date varies depending on the type of beer.

In general, most beers have an expiration date of between 6 months and 3 years. However, this number is just a guideline.
Usually, breweries print a specific year, such as a best-by date.

Can Beer Expire?

Yes, beer does expire. As a food item, beer bottles typically have an expiration date printed on them.
However, beer doesn’t expire like other foods. It doesn’t become unsafe to drink. Beer that is expired has a very different taste from fresh beer.

What’s The Best By Date For Beer?

The exact best-by date for beer depends on what type of beer it is. Beer with a low-alcohol level usually expires within 6 months.
For example, a light lager will usually have a best-by date of around 6 months. A strong ale may last much longer.

Can You Drink Expired Beer? (A Guide On Expiration And Best-By Dates)

As beer is made from organic plant ingredients, including hopes, sugar, and yeast, beer will naturally degrade after some time.

Oxygen is the main factor that affects how long beer can last. Oxygen degrades the beer over time. This means that the alcohol content of beer decreases.

A lot of factors affect when the beer starts to go off.

These include:

  • Temperature
  • Light
  • Alcohol Content
  • Type Of Beer
  • Ingredients Used To Make Beer
  • Storage Conditions

When storing beer at home, it’s important to keep it cool and dark. You should keep beer refrigerated, or If possible, store it in a cool larder.

Can You Still Drink Expired Beer?

If you have a beer that is past its best-by date, you can still drink it. When the beer is just a few days after its expiration date, then you are likely to taste no difference.

However, if the beer is much older, then there could be noticeable differences. You may also become sick, and experience stomach aches and nausea.

Can Expired Beer Make You Sick?

Yes, you can get ill from drinking old beer. There are many reasons why this happens. Some people get headaches, upset stomachs, and even vomiting after drinking old beer.

However, the majority of people do not experience any symptoms at all with beer that is only a few days past its best-by date.
For a beer that’s older, for example, a few years, it will not only taste different but may also cause serious nausea.

How To Tell Your Beer Is Bad

There are many ways to tell whether your beer is good or not. One way is to smell it. If the aroma smells stale or moldy, then it isn’t safe to drink.

Another method is to look at the color of the beer. If it looks cloudy, then it may not be safe to drink.

Finally, you can test the carbonation levels by putting a small amount into a glass and tapping it against a table. If it fizzes up quickly, then it is safe to drink.

It is also easy to find out exactly how old your beer is when it has been stored for longer. All you need to do is look at the bottom of the bottle or can.

You will notice sediment, which means that the bottle or can hasn’t been moved for a while.

You’ll also see a code printed on the bottom of the container. This code tells you how long the product was stored before being shipped to the shop. This code is the best-before date.

What’s The Born On Date On Beer?

The born on date is the date when the brewery first produced the beer. The born on date is sometimes written on the label as well as the best-by date.

This is the earliest date that the brewer can guarantee that the beer is safe to consume. As a beer drinker, you can then guess a much more accurate date of when the beer may expire.

The born-on date is also a good idea because each type of beer is different, and a best-by date is based on a generic calculation, not the specific type of beer.

What Does Expired Beer Taste Like?

If your beer has an expiration date, then it’s time to throw that old bottle out. But if you’re wondering what kind of taste to expect from a beer that’s past its prime, here are some things to keep in mind:

Aged beer tastes more bitter than fresh beer. This bitterness comes from the natural sugars in the beer turning into alcohol.
Older beer will often be darker in color than new beer. Darker-colored beer tends to have stronger flavors.

So, if you want to try a beer that’s been sitting around for a while, go with something light-colored.
Old beer also may have a sour aftertaste. This is caused by bacteria growing in the beer over time.

The majority of beer goes flat when it has expired.

What To Do With Old Beer?

If you’ve got a lot of old beer lying around past its shelf life, there are several methods to use this.

Can You Drink Expired Beer? (A Guide On Expiration And Best-By Dates)

Drink It

If your beer is just a few days past the best-by-day, then you are still fine to drink it. Most people don’t even know that their beer is no longer safe.

However, if your beer has passed its best-by date by months or even years, then you should better dispose of it.

Use It For Cooking

Cooking with old beer is a great way to use up all those extra bottles. Just make sure that you follow proper food safety guidelines.

Dispose Of The Beer

If you’re going to get rid of bad beer, you might want to put it in the trash instead of down the drain.
While this isn’t recommended, you can pour the beer into another container and add bleach to kill any remaining germs.

Use Old Beer For Cleaning

If you’re looking for an alternative to using bleach, consider making homemade cleaning products with your old beer.
Spoiled beer can be used to remove carpet stains, clean wooden furniture, or even remove rust.

How To Store Beer To Make It Last Longer

There are several ways to store your beer so that it lasts longer.

Keep Your Bottles Cool

Keeping your beer cold helps extend the life of your beer. If you live in a warm climate, you should place your beer in the refrigerator.
If you live in a cool climate, you may even store your beer outside, or just leave it in a dry, dark space.

Hot weather does not just make the beer taste warm but it also spoils the beer, making it taste sour and flat.

Store Your Beer Away From Light

Light exposure causes beer to spoil faster. So, if you want to ensure that your beer stays fresh, keep it away from direct sunlight and ultraviolet light.

You can also wrap your beer tightly in plastic wrap to protect it from light.

Don’t Keep Your Beer Too Cold

If you keep your beer too cold, you risk freezing it. Freezing beer makes it cloudy and thick, which means that it won’t be as enjoyable to drink.

On the other hand, keeping your beer too hot will cause it to lose carbonation.

To avoid these problems, keep your beer at room temperature.

Check The Beer Label Regularly

Just because your beer says “Best Before” doesn’t mean that it’s good forever.
If you see that your beer is starting to look bad, then take it out of the fridge and check the label.

This will help you determine whether or not you need to throw it out.

How To Intentionally Age Beer

As mentioned, bottled beers as well as canned beer can develop a range of flavors when it ages.

While for most people, beer is best enjoyed near its born-on date, some beer lovers prefer other flavors to develop over time.
It’s important to bear in mind that not all beers are suitable for artificially aging and cellaring.

Some beers, such as ales, do not age well while others, like lagers, actually improve with age.

The process of intentionally aging beer involves adding various ingredients to the bottle to create different tastes.

For example, some brewers add hops to their beer to give it a bitter flavor.

Other breweries add spices like vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger to give their beer a more complex flavor.
In addition to adding specific ingredients, some techniques can be used to slow down the natural aging process.

One way to do this is by storing the bottles in a cellar where they are exposed to certain temperatures.
Another method is to use a cork stopper instead of a cap. This allows oxygen to enter the bottle, which speeds up the rate of oxidation.

However, if you choose to artificially age your beer, experimenting is everything. You will need to taste what works and what doesn’t.


Beer has been around since ancient times. It was first made using grains and barley. Today, craft beer makers continue to explore new ways to brew beer and create new flavors.

These new beer creations also often last much longer. However, it’s best to try only a sip if you want to drink expired beer.

Although you can drink beer past its best-by date, it may cause stomach upsets and nausea, so it’s best to enjoy your beverage as fresh as possible.

Andrew Carr