Does Beer Expire? Can You Drink It?

Can beer go bad?

Hell yes, it can go bad. Sometimes it’s bad as soon as it’s packaged, am I right?! Sorry, never mind the jokes, does beer expire? Yes beer can go bad or expire or both.

But only bad in the sense that it tastes awful, not bad like, you might die if you drink it. It’s the infected bottles you have to worry about and even then I would not worry too much.

Old beer just tastes bad. If you take a sip and it’s awful you can move on rather quickly and not be in any kind of trouble.

How do you know when beer goes bad?

Some things to look for, obvious or not

  • Check the date. Unfortunately not all beer as an expiration date or a packaged date. If it has a date and it’s a hoppy beer, you might as well put it back and move on if the date is more than three months old.
  • Look at the color. If it’s cloudy and it’s not really supposed to be a hazy beer, something ain’t right.
  • Is it sealed? Once in a while a bottle is not sealed right and there might be a little junk around the camp. Also, if you open it up and there is no “pachsst” sound or no carbonation leaving, probably not a good thing.

What is the shelf life of beer?

This depends on the style.

IPAs and Pales are getting old as soon as they are put into a can. Ideally they are best on day one. Realistically, you have a good three month window on hoppy beers – maybe a little longer if it is one that is high in alcohol.

Lager and Pilsners last longer. To me, they are already kinda skunked but that’s just personal preference. Unless it’s a hoppy lager, it does not make much difference as far as I am concerned. But fresh is always best.

Stouts and Porters are good ones to cellar if they are high in alcohol and are low in adjuncts like, say, coffee. So drinking an old stout is totally cool and even encouraged.

Sours can be better the older they get. They can also get worse. Drink it and take some notes in your beer drinking notebook.

Is it safe to drink after the expiration date?

Yes, mostly. Being there is alcohol involved, most of the bad stuff that could develop in old liquid, won’t get a chance to live. So yeah, it’s pretty safe to drink.

Really, all you’re risking is a possible slightly rough day tomorrow on your bathroom break. Totally worth it, I say. Heck, a really good hazy beer can mess up your system much more than an old beer can.

If your beer is infected, that’s another thing. If you want to be able to tell exactly what the infection is, you can read up on it at the Thrillist.

How to read beer expiration dates

If you’re lucky enough to be holding a beer with an actual date printed on it, you’re cool and we can figure this out.

  • Date it was packaged (when it was put in a bottle or can).
  • Best buy date. (The date the brewery wants you to drink it buy)
  • Julian date. Some breweries use this and I don’t have the brain power to explain it to you here. But Sciencing knows how to calculate the Julian date so I will leave it to them.

The best for us, the drinker, is the “born on” or packaged date because it lets YOU decided what is the best date to drink it.

Also good when the brewery markets the actual beer to be drank by a certain date like Stone does with its Enjoy By series:

Tip to brewers: I love when breweries get cute with the stamp/date on the bottom of their cans. But not when I cannot figure out if the date is a packaged date or a drink-by date.

Drinking expired beer

It is tough to throw out or “drain pour” beer. I know. I have a Pizza Port “Swami” IPA in the fridge that is over a year old and I can’t seem to let go of it. I really want to figure out how I can drink old IPAs and still enjoy them.

Like, be so good at tasting old beer that I can actually enjoy it. Maybe the Beer Temple has found a way to do that:

It’s something to try anyway. There are days I have used a gas credit card to buy beer so I can be desperate enough to drink old beer.

So, Does Beer Expire? Yes and No

Beer does expire. But it’s different from going bad and being infected. If it’s simply old, it’s safe to drink. You just might have to work at it to make it enjoyable.

HEY BEER! Do We Call It Mixed or Variety Pack?

mixed pack from Left Hand

I like to get deep into the weeds (or wort) with little nerdy beer questions on this blog. This one is no exception and it’s a really dumb question but one that has been bugging me for some time and I need to deal with it.

Is it Mixed Pack or Variety Pack?

When a brewery distributes and is big enough, they can start making mixed packs or variety packs. But which is it? This is super important guys! {insert your eye-roll here} I need to figure this out for some reason.

Let’s break down some of the heavyweights in Craft Beer and see what they call their packs. Maybe we can filter out some stuff.

Sierra Nevada Brewing:
Both. They use both. There is a 4-Way IPA pack of their own IPAs called a VARIETY pack. But most of their standard packs are called MIXED.

Modern Times:
Mixed. This one is maybe my favorite because it has the fun little window that shows you the rotating can from their MIXED pack.

New Belgium:
Sampler. Variety. Colab. They seem to use all terms BUT mixed.

Sam Adams:
Variety pack.

Upslope Brewing:
Mix box.

Stone:
Mixed pack.

Firestone Walker:
Mixed pack.

Left Hand Brewing:
Mixed pack.

Deschutes:
Variety pack.

Avery Brewing:
Variety pack.

Ska Brewing. They call theirs a Mixed Up Variety Pack. Woah. Mindblow. They use both. Now I’m thoroughly confused.

Beers Of The World: This was the original for me. So exotic these packs we would get (still I guess) from Cost Plus World Market. But they don’t call it mixed or variety.

Oscar Blues: “Cannundrum” is called a Variety Pack. But get this: their CANarchy pack is called a MiXED pack.

Maybe we have stumbled onto something here. The CANundrum is a pack with all Oscar Blues beers. The CANarchy is a pack that features beer from different breweries.

Variety Pack: Same brewery.
Mixed Pack: Different breweries.

Wait, what am I saying? I have already cited, in this post, examples of mixed packs with beers from the same brewery. Dummy,

It all comes clear. Or is it as clear as a juicy hazy IPA?

Gail Zack from Zack’s Brewing came up with a good suggestion the other day. Maybe it’s Variety when it’s different styles and mixed when it’s the same style.

Oh ok, this sounds right. Except, Sierra Nevada calls it a mixed pack whether its all IPAs OR the styles are mixed up. DAMMIT! So close.

Then I thought maybe the answer lies outside of beer. What about the big bags of the little bags of chips? The ones you get for your packed lunch or soccer snacks. Well a lot of them are called variety packs.

Then Frito Lay, as if to screw with me, calls them Mix Variety Packs.

Solved not solved.

Mixed or variety? There is no definitive rule. Guess we are left to wander around calling one thing two things.

This just in: Some people call them Sampler Packs. Oh fuck.

Cheers!

-Mikey

Before you go

If you would like some further talk on the subject, we discuss this topic in a VARIETY of ways on The Perfect Pour podcast, in particular during episode #277 “Have We Reached Peak Haze?”

Beer Art: “Label Buy: Batch 1”

Craft beer changes so much, at least when it comes to can releases. It’s easy for a beer to get released and forgotten about very quickly. Even though, tons of work went into that beer, including the label art.

So I’m starting a series on the blog, remembering cool label art I have come across, with maybe a few thrown in that I have not acquired yet but would love to have a chance to “label buy” someday – labels I’m Looking Out For, if ya will.

Please enjoy the first round of a brief collection of recent labels I have come across and love.

All of these are can rolling approved.

From Tioga Sequoia Brewing “Hop Fuzz”, Brut style IPA:

This one I actually drank. It’s an excellent Brut IPA and a nice refreshing change from the hoppier stuff I was having that night. A good pallet cleanser.

Tioga is out of Fresno and can be found all across Central California. But “Hop Fuzz” may be limited to what the brewery has on-hand; It’s a trader.
Continue reading “Beer Art: “Label Buy: Batch 1””

Pizza and Beer: The Simple Guide To Pairing

Pizza and beer pairing Picture by TheWanderingGormet.com

The right beer to go with your pizza is not hard to figure out. That doesn’t mean we can’t help each other get better at beer and pizza.

You don’t need me to tell you, but, Pizza and beer is a thing. Maybe the biggest thing in the genre of pairing beer with food, and pizza with… well, anything.

Beer and pizza, while they may be two of the greatest things in the world, take up valuable calorie real estate.

So it is essential these calories are used properly. We want the optimal experience.

A Simple Guide To Pizza and Beer

But, before we go further with this post, here is a quick infographic that craftbeer.com has created, to get you quickly into your perfect pairing:

Craft Beer and Pizza pairing

Alright, now get cheesier with me and keep reading…

Beer and pizza pairing is serious.

Don’t go into your eating and drinking all willy nilly. Stay focused while enjoying all the goodness and comfort that beer and pizza provides.

The thing to keep in mind is finding a balance.

If the pizza is mild, bland, basic, then you go big, flavorful and spicy, on the beer.

If your are gorging on spicy pizza, you get a beer that is simple and mellow.

Here are five basic pizza styles to match up with the proper beer:

CHEESE PIZZA: Red Ale.

Alternatives include Wheat Beer. Ambers. Pilsners. Pales are good in this situation as well.

This is the best use of a red beer. In fact, I really don’t care to have a red without pizza around. I feel like it is a style that needs pizza or needs something else.

A red ale is like salsa. I suppose it is fine on its own but I need something to eat with it to actually enjoy it.

Maybe the best known red out here on the West Coast is the Karl Straus Red Trolley Ale. Well, best know if you have ever gone to Disneyland: California Adventure, that is and found the Karl Strauss Beer Cart.

California Adventure Beer Truck
Image from LAist.com

A magical cart it is. Find a slice of cheese pizza in the park and you are all set.

Continue reading “Pizza and Beer: The Simple Guide To Pairing”

The Beer Geek’s Guide For Using Untappd

How to use Untappd

I know that Untappd has its own FAQ but how about some Untappd advice from a hardcore user, like me? A beer nerd that is not very good at giving detailed reviews but knows that they are not good at it. That makes it cool, yeah?

Untappd gets a lot of flack, but I think it is the best beer app for journalling and tracking your beer. I have a physical beer journal (shout out to Moleskin) and I have Untappd. I use Untappd a lot more, even though I love notebooks.

Let’s look at some basics and some of the beer app’s features you might not have thought of or have forgotten about.

How to use Untappd

You have the basics down, right?:

  • Figure out it’s spelled Untappd, not Untapped.
  • Download the app.
  • Sign up for an account.
  • Make a profile.
  • Start searching for the beer you’re drinking.
  • Find friends and add them.
  • Be annoyed by badges.
  • Forget to check-in to beers.
Build A Profile Worth Seeing

A normal picture is all you really need. Don’t shy away from making a good, complete profile. You are amongst fellow beer lovers, it’s okay to shout it to the global beer garden that is Untappd “I love beer and I don’t care who knows about it!” There is very little judgment about how much beer you drink, less than you probably think. Have fun and screw those haters!

Don’t Rate Beer Styles You Know Nothing About

Nothing pisses off a brewer more than to go on Untappd, see somebody check into one of their beers, give the beer a shitty rating and then say “I have never had this style, I didn’t like it, 2 stars.”

This is why brewers hate Untappd.

Continue reading “The Beer Geek’s Guide For Using Untappd”