Does Beer Expire?

If you’re sorting through your alcohol cupboard, you may be tempted to throw away some beer that has been in there a while. Beer usually has an expiration date, but if you drink the beer past the expiration date, it doesn’t become unsafe.

Does Beer Expire?

Instead, you will simply experience unpleasant tastes and aromas when you sip the expired beer.

While wine is said to get better with age, this is not true of all types of alcohol, especially once this alcohol has been opened. In this article, we will explore the expiration date of beer so that you know how long it is safe to keep it.

So, if you’re looking for some information on the expiration date of beer, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s dive in!

When Does Beer Expire?

Beer does expire at a certain point, and if you drink this beer after the expiration date, you are likely to be faced with unpleasant tastes and aromas. While this is not desirable, it is not unsafe to drink beer at this stage.

Both the flavor and smell of beer will start to degrade, getting worse over time. This is especially true if the beer is exposed to oxygen, heat, and light. 

If you store your beer correctly, the beer should last until the expiry date. The beer will last longer if it is stored in a cold, dark place. If the beer is stored in a warm place, then it is more likely to go off more quickly.

Having said this, no matter where you store your beer, it will always be affected by the conditions outside. 

A beer stored in a cool, dark place will likely stay fresh for up to 6 months. However, stored in a warm place, it will only stay fresh for around 3 months.

How Long Does Beer Stay Fresh? 

How Long Does Beer Stay Fresh? 

Most beer will stay fresh for around four to six months. If the beer is kept refrigerated, it can last for an extra two or three months. 

Beer cannot stay fresh forever, but it does stay fresh for quite a long time. It has a longer shelf life than most other grocery store items. 

There are a few different factors that will affect the freshness of the beer. These include: 


The most important factor when it comes to the freshness of the beer is the age of the beer. When the beer has been produced will impact how fresh it will be. As the beer gets older, the beer will get more flat and stale.

For instance, beer that was brewed last week will be much fresher than beer that was brewed a few months ago.


The temperature at which you store your beer will impact how fresh the beer will be. If you store your beer at a high temperature, it will go bad much faster. Storing your beer in a cool place will ensure that the beer stays fresh for longer. 


When beer is exposed to oxygen in the air, the beer may experience oxygenation. The process of oxygenation leads to the beer becoming stale. If you open your beer, it will go stale quite quickly due to this process.


Light makes beer turn stale quite quickly. This is because sunlight is a mixture of light and heat, which will make the beer less fresh.

Is Expired Beer Unsafe?

Expired beer is not unsafe to drink. It won’t do you any harm. This is because the ingredients naturally decay and the beer is perfectly safe to drink.

All you will experience with expired beer is a different flavor and taste than beer that is in date. 

How Can You Tell That Your Beer Has Gone Bad?

If your beer has gone off, it is quite easy to see the signs of this. Let’s take a look at some of the signs that your beer has gone bad:



The smell of beer will change when it is exposed to light or oxygenated. It will often smell like urine. This usually happens when the beer is past its shelf life, meaning it has been oxidized.

Depending on the cause of the degradation of the beer, the smell will be different. 

If a beer smells like an apple when it has gone off, there is likely acetaldehyde in the beer.

Your beer may also have a skunk odor if it has gone off. In this case, the beer has likely grown bacteria in the bottle. This can also lead to a buttered popcorn smell.

While this may sound dangerous, it is very unlikely that you will get an infection from this bacteria. This is because the beer is often pasteurized which eliminates the odor.

So, if you suspect your beer has gone off, give it a smell. If you smell anything slightly different, then avoid drinking it.


The look of the beer can indicate whether it is off or not. You may see a dusty cloud at the bottom of the bottle, which indicates that yeast has formed in the bottle of the beer. 

The beer may also change in color, which indicates that it may be off. If the beer turns from golden to brown, then this may be an indication that it is beginning to go off.



Often, beer has gone stale because of oxidation. You may want to eliminate as much oxygen as possible before you bottle up the beer (see also: How Long Does Bottled Beer Last?). This will ensure that it will stay fresh as long as possible.

Some beer will release caramel and toffee notes, with some releasing a cardboard flavor.

If the beer begins to taste flat or unappealing, this is another sign that the beer is going bad.

Final Thoughts 

So, there you have it! Beer does expire, but it does not become dangerous to drink when it is expired. This article has explored the expiration of beer, so you should now have all of the information you need!

Rees Vaughn
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