What To Consider Before Buying Beer At The Grocery Store

Is there anything more convenient than picking up a six pack of beer while doing the weekly grocery haul? If you live in one of the lucky states where beer is sold in your local supermarket, you can grab a cold one while shopping for your milk, eggs, and bread. Grocery Dive explains that during the pandemic, alcohol sales at grocery stores rose 21%, with beer as their top moving category.

Grocery Dive says stores are happy to stock local craft brews on their shelves as a way to signal their commitment to the community, but there are a few things to consider before grabbing that IPA off a supermarket shelf because what you get in convenience, you may pay for in freshness. According to America's Test Kitchen, beer is as perishable as the steak that's sitting on top of the 12-pack in the shopping cart. While it won't make you sick, the taste can be unpleasant.

Gear Moose says the best grocery store beer to buy is one that you'd drink any season. Not only are these beers always available, but the larger distributors (think Budweiser, Coors, or Miller) move more product, which means the beer is always in fresh rotation (via Bon Appétit). It's safest to stick with the basics. Buying beer at the grocery store is not the time to expand your palate or, according to Bon Appétit, try the weird bottles stuffed in a singles bin.

Tips for buying supermarket beer

Still want to buy a craft brew at the grocer? Remember, since beer is perishable, it can go bad. Gear Patrol talked to Zach Mack, owner of the craft beer store and bar ABC Beer Co. and a Certified Cicerone, which is a sommelier for beer, who acknowledged that exposure to heat, air, and light can compromise the quality and freshness of the brew. Mack suggests looking for the bottled-on date, usually stamped on the bottom of cans or on the neck of bottles.

Once you spot the date, how long does beer last after it's been bottled? According to Bison Brew, as long as beer is kept in a cold, dark place (like a fridge) it will last up to six months. Unrefrigerated beer only keeps for three. Canned beer provides the best protection against light and, because of its design, oxygen. Make sure bottled beer is kept away from light; Beer gets its skunky taste when hops are exposed. 

Speaking of hops, you may want to forgo the IPAs at the local supermarket. According to the Washington Post, some crafter brewers think these dry-hopped beers should be consumed within 30 days of the bottled-on date since the flavor of hops degrade as the beer ages. Bon Appétit also recommends sticking to the fridge section when consuming hoppy beer since heat turns hops bitter. Darker, higher ABV beers like an Imperial Stout have better shelf staying power, says Craft Beer Joe.