Does beer go bad?

beer sampler

Have you ever noticed that beer bottles have expiration dates? It’s strange to think that something like alcohol could be perishable, especially when cleaners and liquor seemingly last forever. So, does beer go bad?

As it turns out, yes. While alcohol itself doesn’t expire, there are plenty of ingredients in beer that can turn after a period of time. Here’s how to tell if the beer in your fridge is bad and what might cause this phenomenon. 

The Skunk Smell

Bad beer is also called skunked due to the smell it creates after expiration. The smell comes from exposure to UV rays, which can happen in sunlight or your fridge. Beers held in darker colored bottles is less likely to skunk, while those in green bottles receive the most exposure. 

Stale Taste

Beer should never have contact with oxygen before you open it, unless you keep yours in a growler. The more exposure to oxygen beer has, the more it begins to oxidize and become stale. This is true for everything from bottles to cans and kegs. 

Popcorn Taste

Outside of some inventive IPAs and other craft brews, beer should never taste like popcorn. Creating beer requires diacetyl, which is compound that tastes somewhat buttery and aids in fermentation. When left to ferment for too long, a popcorn taste is created.

Unlike skunked beer, diacetyl is dangerous to your body. Excessive exposure can have long-lasting, negative impacts on your lungs. While you won’t suffer any harm from a few beers, you don’t want to keep drinking if the taste is there. 

Other Strange Tastes

Bad beer can come in a wide variety of other nausea-inducing flavors. Whether from oxidization or an issue in the fermentation process, some smells are enough to churn your stomach while indicating your brews has turned for the worse. These smells include cooked cabbage, sewage, unintentional sour flavor, and Sulphur. 

Can You Drink Bad Beer? 

It’s natural to worry that drinking bad beer could cause negative consequences, just like anything else you consume. Luckily, drinking expired brews will not make you sick. There are no studies with concrete or conclusive evidence to the contrary. It does, however, taste awful. 

So, you can’t claim that drinking a batch of bad beer led to other consequences outside of a nasty taste in your mouth. That includes everything from falling asleep early to saying things you didn’t mean and drunk driving. You’ll still need the help of DUI defense firm for the latter. 

Why Have an Expiration Date?

Beer usually lasts anywhere from sic to nine months past the expiration date on the bottle or can. That can vary depending on the type of glass it’s stored in, but cans remain impenetrable to UV light. When refrigerated, your beer can last up to a whole two years past the date.

So, why even print one? Aside from helping you avoid an altogether awful experience with horrid flavors, most consumer good agencies require that companies do so.  Consumer goods purchased in California, for instance, must contain an expiration date to let buyers know when a product could turn sour. It’s for your protection, but mostly about the taste when it comes to beer.