Skip to Content

How Long Does Beer Last? | It’s All About Taste

I once found a 6-pack of beer way back in a cabinet and realized it was several years old. I threw it away, but did I have to? It would be a shame to waste a good brew, so I did some research, and this is what I found out.

Beer will last (taste best) up to 2 years in the fridge and 6 to 8 months past the best-by date. However, beer is not like milk in that it doesn’t really go bad. Over time the taste of beer will alter due to oxidation and any exposure to light, so it should be stored in a dark, cool environment.

Here is a simple chart that shows how long beer will generally taste best.

The shelf life of beer:

Storage MethodRoom TemperatureRefrigerated
Canned Beer9 monthsUp to 2 years
Bottled Beer6 months6-8 months
Beer in a KegUp to 24 hours (Tapped)3-4 months
Beer in a GrowlerNot recommended3-4 days

I couldn’t fit all of the details into the chart, so read on if you want to know more about the intricacies of how long beer lasts.

Several Beer Bottles in a Plastic Box

How Long Will Beer Last Unopened in the Fridge?

Unopened beer can last up to 2 years or 6-8 months past the best by date. However, some specialty beers designed for aging can last up to 6 years. It is vital to check what type of beer you are storing to see how long past the expiration date it can last.

For best results, it is recommended to use a fridge or keep the unopened beer stored in a cold climate away from sunlight and or heat. Beer is usually stored best at about 38 degrees F.

If you drink a lot of beer, I recommend getting a dedicated fridge to store your beverages. Just make sure you choose one that gets cold enough, most cheap fridges only go down to 40 degrees.. you need at least 38! Here is a good one that is found on Amazon that I recommend.

Related Does Beer Need to be Refrigerated? | The FDA Weighs in.

How Long Does Beer Last out of the Fridge?

Typically beer will last 4 to 6 months when stored outside of the fridge. In some cases, it will last longer than this, depending on storage conditions. It is crucial to keep the beer away from heat and direct sunlight so that it can stay fresh as long as possible.

This is why cans tend to last longer than bottles. The combination of no light penetrating a can and less room in the container to store oxygen makes a world of difference in how long beer will taste fresh. Tests have shown that storing beer in a can is far superior to keeping it in a bottle.

How Long Does Beer Last in a Keg?

Beer can last a reasonable amount of time in a keg. It depends solely on the type of beer, however. If the beer is Pasteurized, then it will typically last 3 to 4 months. If the beer is unpasteurized, then it will only last for 6 to 8 weeks. However, once tapped, a keg will only be fresh for 12-24 hours.

How Long Does Beer Last in a Growler

Beer typically does not stay fresh very long in a growler. Beer in a growler will last up to 3 or 4 days if it is tightly sealed and has been properly chilled. If it is opened, the beer will go flat in about 36 hours.

How Long Does Beer Last After You Open It?

After you open a beer, it should be consumed within two days maximum. After about a day and a half, the beer starts to become flat and produces a stale taste. The simplest way to test if the beer has gone bad by smelling or tasting it. If in doubt, throw it out.

Can Beer Go Bad?

Beer does not really go bad in that it doesn’t necessarily become safe to drink as milk or juice would. However, beer is all about taste, and that’s what the focus is on in this article.

It is essential to check the use-by date and then test the beer before doling it out to your friends. Also, keep in mind that for beers designed for aging can last upwards of 6 years. So, just because it is old doesn’t mean it’s going to taste terrible.

How to Tell If Beer Has Gone Bad

You can tell if your beer has gone bad if it displays any of these characteristics:

  • Smells off- Some people refer to this as “skunked” beer.
  • Tastes bad- If it tastes like freshly mowed grass, butterscotch, or even buttered popcorn (not joking), then it is best to throw the stuff out.

Can You Drink Beer After Expiration Date?

Beer can be consumed indefinitely past the expiration date, assuming you can stand the taste of it if it is not fresh. Typically, if stored in a cool environment, it will last longer than in warm or heated places.

Can Expired Beer Make You Sick?

Drinking a beer past the expiration date will usually not make you sick or kill you. The only negative that may come will be a disappointing taste and the possibility of a slight stomach ache. You may always experience a mild headache if the beer is way past the best use-by date.

How to Properly Store Beer

Beer should always be stored upright and in a climate-controlled setting for best results. If possible, set the refrigeration unit to 38 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Celsius or).

If fridge space is not available, store it in a dark room so that light and heat do not spoil the beer, a root cellar works great.

Also, make sure to check what type of beer you are storing. American beers can typically be stored for 4 to 6 months. Imported beers can sometimes last up to a year, and specialist beers meant for aging should be stored 2 to 5 years.

Does Beer Evaporate?

Beer does tend to evaporate. When it is exposed to air, it can lose up to 30% of its alcohol content in as little as 12 hours.


Here are a few takeaways from this article:

Beer will last longer:

  • In a can
  • When not exposed to light
  • When kept cold at around 38 degrees Fahrenheit

So, please take my advice and stop buying bottles and keep the stuff at the right temperature. Your taste buds will thank me.

Thanks for stopping by!

For more, check out Do Liquors or Liqueurs Need to Be Refrigerated?