We’ve all been there. You crack open a cold one to kick off a great night, place the cool aluminum to your lips, and anticipate the flavor that you’ve come to know and love.
But instead, you’re met with a cocktail of sewage and apple juice that turns your stomach and drains all joy from the evening.
This can only mean one thing: you’ve got a skunk beer.
Skunk or expired beer is very real. However, because it has no negative health effects, drinking brews past their prime is very common and can be hard to avoid.
So how can you ensure a positive drinking experience? How can you stop bad beer in its tracks before it assaults your taste buds?
Keep reading for three ways to determine if you have an expired beer.
1. Expiration Date
All beer is made from natural, living ingredients. So, over time, these ingredients are subject to decay and bacterial growth.
These internal chemical reactions eventually ruin the flavor, but this process can take quite some time.
Any beer sold commercially will have an expiration or sell-by date printed on it, which is usually just a safe estimate to prevent customer dissatisfaction.
The truth is, most beer can retain its flavor at least six to nine months beyond its expiration date, and even longer depending on the alcohol content and other factors.
2. Storage Conditions
The best way to determine the likelihood of skunked beer is by looking at its storage conditions.
Beer has three arch nemeses: light, heat, and oxygen. If consistently exposed to any of these threats, it won’t last long.
Bottled beer, especially with colored glass, is more susceptible to penetration by UV rays, which produce chemical reactions leading to nasty flavors.
Refrigeration is also a key factor, as neer freezing beer can maintain its quality up to two years past its expiration date.
If beer is opened or stored upside down, oxidation can occur extremely quickly, and its best consumed within two to three days before the flavor becomes unbearable.
The best breweries will all agree: ideal beer is cold, canned, and upright without sunlight!
The last line of defense before a taste test is the beer’s aroma.
The classic description of a skunked beer’s smell is, you guessed it, like a skunk.
However, a more general description is any sickeningly sweet smell, like a mixture of buttered popcorn and green apples. Some critics have even listed freshly mown grass and creamed corn as the scents to watch out for.
Basically, any smell resembling a fruit fly’s delight is a good sign that your beer has gone bad and is not worth the sip.
Expel Your Expired Beer
Now you know how to spot expired beer without having to sacrifice your stomach.
Whether you’re at the house, bar, or store, you should be able to reasonably determine if what you’ve got is tasty or not.
So before your next brew, check the expiration date, packaging, temperature, and smell. If it checks all the boxes, then cheers!
Browse our online magazine for some more healthy lifestyle tips! Happy drinking!