It’s Friday afternoon and the first thing on your mind is running to your local grocery store, grabbing a frozen pizza and a 6-pack of your favorite brew. No judgement here. You get home, kick off the shoes and throw that frozen excuse for a pizza in the oven. Now that you have 15 minutes to kill, you grab one of those cold ones you just picked up and start the weekend.
Upon enjoying your beer you start to gaze at the artwork and labeling of the can. There it is staring right back at you…a canned on date that’s 6 months old! Your cold brew has been losing flavor and taste for 6 months before you finally grabbed them from the grocery store graveyard. Don’t worry anymore we are here to help…
Grocery Store Graveyard:
A lot of the beer you see in your typical grocery store section is usually at least a few months old. This is due to the three tier system, which includes the brewery, distributor and retailer.
Let’s look at the life cycle of beer:
1. Brewed, packaged and delivered to distributors.
2. The beer is delivered to distribution warehouses until it is needed.
3. The beer is delivered to retail locations.
4. The beer is finally stocked on shelves for customer consumption.
Does Beer Go Bad?
The other day I found a Kolsch can, at a popular local bottle shop, that was canned back in 2015…so do beer go bad?
Okay, so beer doesn’t go bad like milk, for example. You will notice the stale poor taste though of old beer. For optimal flavor, consume your beer and specifically IPAs within 3 months of being canned or bottled.
Hops are the main flavor provider in IPAs; they are flower/seed cones so their oils and aromas fade with time. Go find a 6 month old local IPA (trust me they are out there) then go grab a fresh one from the brewery itself. You will be surprised by the difference.
Other beer styles that you want to consume sooner rather than later include: Ambers, Browns, Reds, Porters, Milk Stouts and lower ABV Stouts. These styles have less hops than an IPA, but can still fade quickly. They do not have the malt and hop build for cellaring.
What have we learned?
When it comes to Lagers, Pilsners, Pale Ales and IPAs, the fresher the better. Old beer won’t make you get sick like spoiled milk but you will notice a drastic taste difference.
An easy tip is to always check the date! If you can’t read the code on the bottle a quick Google search should shine some light. As always, please enjoy beer responsibly!