JBU > Introductory

Does Beer Go Bad? How To Prevent A “Skunky” Beer

Sometimes a bottle of your favourite beer that gets pushed to the back of the pantry and forgotten. It’s sad, but it happens. If you’re thinking “Can I drink old beer?” “Does beer expire?” “What is a skunky beer?”, keep on reading to find out all you need to know about beer gone bad!

Does Beer Go Bad? How To Prevent A “Skunky” Beer

Can Beer Go Bad?

In short — Yes, your beer can expire.

The higher the alcohol content of the beer the longer it takes to go bad. Beer past it’s prime just won’t taste as good as the brewer — or you — might like. It’s not the way that beer was meant to be drunk. The “best by” date, “best before” date, or expiration date on beer usually means that if you drink it past that date it will not be at its best quality or taste. But don’t worry, drinking bad beer probably won’t make you sick, but it won’t be nearly as enjoyable.

 

How Long Will Beer Last Before It Goes Bad?

Beer goes flat when it is opened and then put in the fridge for more than a few hours. Our best advice, if you’re going to have a beer, don’t be a rookie. Just finish it (responsibly, of course). Don’t save some for later. Flat beer much like flat soda has lost its carbonation and tastes pretty stale. The reason it has carbonation is so it tastes refreshing and makes your mouth water.

Beers with low alcohol by volume (ABV) stored on a shelf unopened will go flat within about 6 months. Beers with higher ABV like lambics or stouts are made to be aged, so leaving them on the shelf for a few years actually makes them better. Just make sure they are stored correctly (keep reading for info on how to store beer).

 

What is Skunked or Skunky Beer?

No amount of tomato juice baths will bring this beer back to its regular self. Beer that is skunked has been exposed to light for a period of time. While it is not dangerous to drink it is really disgusting both in smell and taste. You were meant to enjoy beer, so don’t drink skunk your beer!

 

How To Prevent A Beer From Going Bad

Beer Storage Tips:

Beers do not like light, so they should be packaged in dark bottles and stored in a cool, dark place away from sunlight or direct light. If they are in a keg or can these are both impenetrable and your beer is safe. Store bottles with caps upright. Unlike wine with a cork, capped beer does not need to be store on it’s side.

How beer becomes skunked
Image by: All Things Beer

 

Can You Drink Expired Unpasteurized Beer?

In short — No!

Unpasteurized beer is an exception to the rule. When it’s past its expiration date, do not drink it because it can make you sick. Brewers choose not to pasteurize beers because they think it makes the beers taste better. Unpasteurized beers are meant to be consumed when they are fresh.

 

Expert Advice: Drink Fresh Beer!

If your beer’s color or smell has changed it is safe to say it has gone bad. Whether it is pasteurized or unpasteurized, we recommend not drinking it because it’ll probably taste gross and nobody wants to drink gross beer. Beer is a terrible thing to waste, so drink it when it’s fresh. The way it was meant to be drunk. Your palate will thank you.

skunky, bad beer, expired beer
Image By: Etsy

JustBeer is your friend! We don’t want you to drink bad beer!

 

There you have it, the ins and outs of skunky beer. To learn more about beer, check out these posts:

Beer Styles 201: Gruit Beer (Ancient Herbed/Spiced Ale)
Serving the Perfect Beer: Temperature, Pour and Glassware
Beer Colours: The SRM Color Guide for Beer Styles
What is a Beer Flight?

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