How Long Canned Beer Actually Lasts And How To Store It Right

Canned beer can get a bad rep, but it shouldn't be relegated to the basement of a fraternity house. Beer, in general, serves many purposes, from being a refreshing summer beverage to adding complexity to several recipes, like beer cheese soup and beer can chicken. When it comes to bottled vs. canned beer, the canned variety has the added benefit of blocking the beer from sunlight, meaning in some scenarios it will keep your beer tasting fresher for longer. With this in mind, it can be advantageous to opt for what is often seen as the lower-brow option — cans. So how long does canned beer last?

Canned beer can stay fresh for up to two years, provided it is stored correctly. To maximize your beer's shelf life, you will want to store it in a cool, dark place like a refrigerator or a cellar. Of course, once that beer is open, it will last for a far shorter time. As with all carbonated beverages, beer sitting in an open can declines in quality quickly due to loss of carbonation — usually lasting between a few hours and a couple of days. For best results, store open beer cans in the refrigerator with an airtight seal over the opening.

How to tell when beer has gone bad

The longevity of a beer is typically impacted by three primary factors: Heat, oxygen, and sunlight. Exposure to both heat and oxygen can accelerate the rate at which a beer oxidizes, meaning the compounds that give it its signature flavor and smell will break down and make these traits noticeably decrease in quality. Meanwhile, sunlight has a unique impact on beer, where it changes the taste of the hops in the beverage and causes them to produce a skunk-like flavor and odor. While the third of these factors will affect unopened canned beer very little, it still should be taken into consideration after the beer has been opened.

While expired beer is relatively safe to drink, that doesn't mean it will be pleasant. To save yourself from drinking a beer that is no longer good — or worse, serving it to a guest — keep an eye out for the following signs. Before drinking, smell for any odor that isn't the hoppy, yeasty aroma of beer. Expired beer will most commonly smell like urine or skunk spray. A lack of carbonation or a stale, cardboard-like taste are also hints that you should skip serving the can.