How Long Does Beer Last Unrefrigerated: Know Your Beer Shelf Life

Picture this – you’re coming home from a long day at work and there’s no beer left in the fridge. But wait, you remember there’s a pack left in your car that you forgot to bring in yesterday. Before you crack one open, you’re suddenly hit with a thought – how long has it been sitting in there? How long does beer last unrefrigerated anyways?

Raise your hand if you’ve found yourself in a similar situation before. Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. And while we can’t go back in time to put that forgotten beer in the fridge, we can certainly give you some insight into how long it’s safe to drink unrefrigerated.

We’ll break down the different factors that affect beer’s lifespan, including the type of beer, packaging, and storage conditions. So, before you go downing that warm brew, read on to make sure you’re not putting your health at risk.

What Makes Beer Spoil?

Beer is a complex mixture of water, malt, hops, and yeast that can take several forms depending on the brewing process. While beer is a beloved beverage around the world, it can also spoil if not stored in the proper conditions. Many factors can contribute to spoiling beer, including:

  • Oxygen Exposure: Beer is susceptible to oxidation, which can affect its flavor, aroma, and color. When beer comes into contact with oxygen, it can cause the creation of off-flavors and stale notes. This is why beer is often sold in opaque bottles or cans that prevent light and oxygen from penetrating the liquid.
  • Heat Exposure: Heat can accelerate the spoiling process of beer, resulting in off-flavors and a decrease in overall quality. When beer is stored in warm temperatures, it can cause the beer to spoil and acquire a sour taste.
  • Storage Time: Beer is a perishable item and will eventually spoil over time. Even if stored in optimal conditions, beer will begin to lose its quality after a certain period. Depending on the type of beer, storage times can range from a few weeks to several months.

In summary, beer can spoil due to a variety of factors, including exposure to oxygen, heat, and storage time. To ensure that beer stays fresh and maintains its optimal quality, it is necessary to store it in proper conditions. In the following subsections, we will delve into these factors and their impact on beer spoilage in more detail.

Room Temperature Storage vs. Refrigerated Storage

When it comes to storing beer, temperature plays a crucial role in how long it will last before going bad. While refrigeration is often the go-to method for keeping beer fresh, it’s not always practical or available. That’s where room temperature storage comes in.

  • Room Temperature Storage
  • Storing beer at room temperature, which is typically between 68-77°F (20-25°C), can be a viable option for short-term storage. Beer that has not been pasteurized or filtered tends to have a shorter shelf life and should be consumed within a few weeks if stored at room temperature. Beers that have been pasteurized or filtered can last for a few months if kept in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight.

  • Refrigerated Storage
  • Refrigerating beer is the most effective way to ensure that it stays fresh for as long as possible. The low temperature slows down the chemical reactions that can cause beer to spoil, preserving its flavor and carbonation. For best results, store beer in the fridge at a temperature between 38-45°F (3-7°C).

The Importance of Proper Storage

Whether you choose room temperature or refrigerated storage, it’s important to store your beer in a way that preserves its quality for as long as possible. Exposure to sunlight, heat, and air can all cause beer to spoil, resulting in off-flavors, flatness, and a shorter shelf life. Always store beer in a cool, dark place, and try to consume it before the expiration date if possible. If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a sour or musty odor, a hazy appearance, or a lack of carbonation, it’s best to discard the beer to avoid the risk of illness.

Condition How Long It Lasts
Room Temperature Unpasteurized or unfiltered: a few weeks; Pasteurized or filtered: a few months
Refrigerated Up to 6 months (depending on the type of beer)

Ultimately, the best way to ensure that your beer lasts as long as possible is to store it properly. Whether you choose to keep it at room temperature or in the fridge, make sure to keep it away from sources of heat, light, and air. By taking the time to store your beer correctly, you can enjoy a delicious, refreshing drink that’s always at its best.

The Shelf Life of Different Types of Beers

Beer is one of the oldest and most popular alcoholic beverages in the world. It is made by fermenting grains and hops, and can come in a wide variety of styles and flavors. Different types of beer have different shelf lives, depending on their ingredients, alcohol content, and other factors.

If you’re wondering how long does beer last unrefrigerated, the answer depends on the type of beer, how it was stored, and how it was packaged. Here, we break down the shelf life of different types of beers:

Types of Beer and Their Shelf Life

  • Lager: Lager beers are made with yeast that ferments at a colder temperature than ale yeast. This results in a beer that’s crisper and more refreshing, but also has a shorter shelf life. Most lagers will last for about six months unopened, but may start to taste stale after three months.
  • Ale: Ales are brewed with yeast that ferments at a higher temperature than lager yeast, resulting in a fuller, fruitier flavor. Ales generally have a longer shelf life than lagers, but still need to be consumed relatively quickly. Most ales will stay fresh for about a year unopened, but can start to lose their flavor after six months.
  • Stout: Stouts are dark, rich beers that are brewed with roasted barley, giving them a distinctive chocolate or coffee flavor. Due to their high alcohol content and intense flavor, stouts can last for several years unopened if stored in a cool, dry place. However, once opened, they should be consumed within a few weeks for optimal taste.

Factors That Affect Beer Shelf Life

While the type of beer is the biggest factor in determining its shelf life, there are other factors to keep in mind:

  • Alcohol Content: Higher alcohol content can help to preserve beer, so beers with higher ABV (alcohol by volume) will generally last longer than those with lower ABV.
  • Storage Conditions: Beer should be stored in a cool, dark place, away from direct light and heat. Temperature fluctuations can also affect beer quality, so try to store it in a place with a consistent temperature.
  • Package Type: Beer that is canned or bottled will generally have a longer shelf life than beer that comes in a growler or keg. Once a growler or keg is opened, the beer will start to go flat and lose its flavor within a few days.


The shelf life of beer varies depending on the type of beer, its alcohol content, and how it’s stored. While some beers can last for several years unopened, most beers will start to lose their flavor after a few months. It’s always best to consume beer as soon as possible after purchasing, and to store it properly in a cool, dark place to extend its shelf life.

Beer Type Unopened Shelf Life Opened Shelf Life
Lager About 6 months About 1 week
Ale About 1 year About 1 week
Stout Several years About 2 weeks

Remember to always drink responsibly and enjoy your beer while it’s fresh!

How to Extend the Life of Unrefrigerated Beer

It’s a common situation – you buy a six-pack of beer and then forget to put it in the fridge. Or perhaps you’re going on a camping trip and want to bring some beer with you, but won’t have access to refrigeration. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to know how to extend the life of unrefrigerated beer. Here are some tips:

  • Store in a cool, dark place – heat is enemy number one when it comes to beer storage. Keep your unrefrigerated beer away from direct sunlight and in a place that doesn’t get too warm.
  • Keep it upright – storing beer on its side can cause the yeast to settle in a way that can impact the flavor of the beer. Keeping the beer upright will prevent this from happening.
  • Choose the right beer – some beer styles, such as IPAs and other hoppy beers, are more susceptible to flavor degradation over time. If you’re planning to store beer unrefrigerated for a while, it might be better to choose a beer style that is more forgiving.

In addition to these tips, you might also consider investing in some beer preservation tools. These products are specifically designed to keep beer fresh for longer periods of time, even when it’s not refrigerated. Some examples of beer preservation tools include:

Air-Tight Beer Bottle Caps: These caps create a seal on your beer bottle that helps to keep oxygen out, which can impact the flavor of the beer.

Insulated Beer Holders: These holders are designed to keep beer at a consistent temperature, even when it’s not refrigerated. They often come with additional features such as built-in bottle openers and storage compartments.

When it comes to extending the life of unrefrigerated beer, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. However, by following the tips above and considering some additional tools, you can help ensure that your beer stays fresh and enjoyable for as long as possible.

Beer Style Unrefrigerated Shelf Life
Lagers and Pilsners Up to 6 months
Stouts and Porters Up to 3 months
Belgian Ales Up to 3 months
Wheat Beers Up to 3 months
IPAs and Other Hoppy Beers Up to 2 months

It’s important to note that these are just general guidelines, and the actual shelf life of beer can vary based on factors such as temperature, light exposure, and storage conditions. However, by storing your beer properly and using the right tools, you can help ensure that your unrefrigerated beer stays fresh and tasty for as long as possible.

The Dangers of Consuming Spoiled Beer

Drinking beer that has gone bad can pose several risks to your health. Some of the dangers of consuming spoiled beer include:

  • Food Poisoning: One of the biggest risks of drinking expired beer is food poisoning. When beer goes bad, it can harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella, E. coli, and Listeria. These bacteria can cause symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever.
  • Mold Exposure: Another danger of drinking spoiled beer is exposure to mold. Mold can grow in beer that has been left out for too long, especially if it has been opened. Inhaling and consuming mold can lead to respiratory problems like wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath, as well as other symptoms like headache and dizziness.
  • Illnesses: Consuming expired beer can also lead to other illnesses like botulism, which is caused by the bacterial toxin Clostridium botulinum. Symptoms of botulism can include blurry vision, slurred speech, muscle weakness, and difficulty breathing.

How to Tell if Your Beer is Spoiled

If you’re not sure whether your beer has gone bad, there are a few things you can look for to determine its freshness. These include:

  • The expiration date: Check the date on the packaging to see if it’s past its prime.
  • The appearance: Look for changes in the color, clarity, or bubbles in the beer.
  • The smell: If it smells sour, musty, or like vinegar, it may have gone bad.

Storing Beer Properly

The best way to keep your beer from spoiling is to store it properly. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep beer in a cool, dark place. Sunlight and heat can cause beer to spoil more quickly.
  • Store beer upright to prevent air from seeping into the bottle or can.
  • Refrigerate beer as soon as possible after purchasing it.
  • Drink beer before its expiration date.


Drinking spoiled beer can have serious health consequences, so it’s important to be aware of the risks and take proper precautions when storing your beer. If you’re ever in doubt about the freshness of your beer, it’s better to err on the side of caution and dispose of it.

Symptoms Common Bacteria
Nausea, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Fever Salmonella, E. Coli, Listeria
Respiratory Problems, Headache, Dizziness Mold
Blurry Vision, Slurred Speech, Muscle Weakness, Difficulty Breathing Clostridium Botulinum

Knowing the potential risks and symptoms of drinking spoiled beer can help you make informed decisions about what you consume.

How Temperature Fluctuations Affect Beer Quality

Temperature fluctuations are one of the main factors that can affect the quality of beer, especially if the beer is stored unrefrigerated for an extended period of time. Here are some of the ways that temperature changes can impact the quality of your beer:

  • Rapid temperature changes can cause the carbon dioxide bubbles in the beer to expand or contract, which can affect the way the beer tastes and feels in your mouth.
  • High temperatures can speed up the oxidation process and cause beer to spoil more quickly. This can lead to off-flavors and aromas, as well as sediment and cloudiness in the beer.
  • Cold temperatures can slow down the fermentation process and cause beer to become flat and dull-tasting over time.

One way to visually understand how temperature fluctuations can affect beer quality is by looking at a beer freshness chart. This chart shows how the freshness and quality of beer can deteriorate over time due to various factors like temperature, light, and oxygen exposure.

Temperature Range (in degrees Fahrenheit) Effect on Beer Quality
32-50 Beer will freeze and any carbon dioxide present will be forced out, causing flatness and off-flavors if consumed after thawing.
50-70 The ideal storage temperature for most beers, with minimal flavor loss and stable carbonation.
70-90 Accelerated aging of beer, with increased oxidation, flavor loss, and possible spoilage.
Above 90 Rapid beer spoilage, with heightened off-flavors and aromas.

Overall, it’s important to store beer at a consistent temperature between 50-70 degrees Fahrenheit to maintain optimal flavor and quality. Avoid storing beer in direct sunlight, near sources of heat or cold, and for extended periods of time without refrigeration to prevent temperature fluctuations and degradation of taste.

Storing Beer for Camping or Outdoor Activities

Heading out on a camping or outdoor adventure is always an exciting activity, and for many, a cold beer is the perfect cap on a long day spent exploring nature. Storing beer on these trips is essential, as there is rarely access to refrigeration. Here are some tips for storing beer on an outdoor adventure:

  • Pack beer in a cooler with ice packs or ice to keep it cold for longer periods.
  • Avoid leaving beer in direct sunlight, as this can cause it to spoil more quickly.
  • Choose beers with higher ABV (alcohol by volume), as they tend to have greater preservative properties and can last longer unrefrigerated.

The Shelf Life of Beer Outdoors

The shelf life of beer outdoors can vary depending on several factors, such as temperature and the amount of time it spends unrefrigerated. In general, beer can last up to two days at temperatures up to 90ºF (32ºC), while it can last up to five days at temperatures of 70ºF (21ºC).

The type of beer can also be a factor in how well it preserves. For example, hoppy beers or beers with a high alcohol content tend to preserve better than lighter beers. Additionally, some canned beer has a longer shelf-life than bottled beer.


When heading out for a camping or outdoor adventure, bringing along some beer can make the experience all the more enjoyable. Make sure to pack the beer in a cooler with ice or ice packs, avoid direct sunlight, and choose higher ABV and canned beers to help ensure freshness and longevity.

Temperature Range Shelf Life of Beer
Below 32ºF (0ºC) Indefinite
32-50ºF (0-10ºC) A few months
50-70ºF (10-21ºC) A few weeks
Above 70ºF (21ºC) A few days

Remember to always drink responsibly and check the laws and regulations regarding alcohol consumption in your camping or outdoor area.

Testing the Freshness of Beer Before Drinking

Whether you’re a seasoned beer drinker or a newcomer to the world of hops and barley, there’s one question that always comes up: how fresh is the beer I’m about to drink? While most beer is treated with preservatives and has a longer shelf life than other beverages, there’s still a point where the quality of the beer starts to deteriorate. To avoid drinking stale beer, here are some tips for testing the freshness of your brew:

  • Check the Best Before Date: Most beer bottles have a best before date stamped somewhere on the label. This is the date the brewery recommends you drink the beer by to ensure optimal freshness. Make sure to check the date before cracking open a bottle – drinking beer past its best before date can result in off-flavors and a less-than-pleasant drinking experience.
  • Inspect the Appearance: The appearance of beer can also give you a clue to its freshness. A beer that’s gone bad may appear cloudy or have large chunks floating in it. While some beers are naturally cloudy or have sediment at the bottom of the bottle, if the beer appears significantly different from when you last had it, it may be time to toss it.
  • Smell It: Smelling your beer before drinking is another way to test its freshness. A stale beer may have a musty, cardboard-like aroma, while a fresh beer should have a strong, pleasant smell. If the smell makes you cringe, it’s probably best to pour it down the drain.

So, what happens if you do drink stale beer? While it’s generally safe to consume, you may experience a few unpleasant side effects – like a headache or upset stomach – due to the oxidation of the beer. If you’re ever unsure about whether your beer is still fresh, it’s best to err on the side of caution and dispose of it properly.

For those who want to take their testing a step further, here’s a handy chart that outlines the typical lifespan of different types of beer:

Type of Beer Lifespan (unrefrigerated)
Lager 6-8 months
Pilsner 6-8 months
IPA 3-6 months
Stout 6-8 months

Keep in mind that these are just general guidelines, and there are a lot of factors that can impact the freshness of your beer – like how it’s stored, the temperature it’s kept at, and whether it’s been exposed to light. The bottom line: if you want to enjoy your beer to the fullest, make sure it’s fresh before you crack it open.

Can Unrefrigerated Beer be Used for Cooking?

Beer is a versatile ingredient that can be used in cooking to add flavor, and it’s not always necessary to refrigerate it. However, it’s important to remember that unrefrigerated beer can spoil much quicker than refrigerated beer, and the taste can be affected.

  • Beer can be added to marinades to tenderize meat and add flavor. Just be sure to marinate in the fridge to avoid spoiling.
  • Cooking with beer can add unique flavors to stews, sauces, and soups. It can also be used to make batter for fried foods like fish or onion rings.
  • Beer can be used to make beer bread, which is a simple, savory bread that doesn’t need yeast or rising time.

As for how long unrefrigerated beer lasts for cooking purposes, it depends on the type of beer and how it’s stored. Here is a general guide:

Type of Beer Room Temperature Refrigerated
Ale 1-2 days 1-2 weeks
Lager 1-2 days 1-2 weeks
Stout/Porter 1-2 days 2-3 weeks

It is generally recommended to refrigerate beer when storing it, especially if you plan to use it for cooking at a later time. This will help to extend its shelf life and ensure the taste isn’t affected too much.

The Impact of Light Exposure on Beer Quality.

While many beer enthusiasts often focus on the expiration date of their beer, it’s the impact of external factors on the beer’s quality even before the expiration date that can lead to a bad drinking experience. One of the most important external factors is light exposure. Beer, like many other food products, can be adversely affected by exposure to light, especially the ultraviolet (UV) variety found in sunlight, which can lead to what is known as “skunky” or “lightstruck” beer.

  • UV light breaks down isohumulones, the chemical compounds found in hops, which are what provide many beers with their bitter taste. This breakdown of isohumulones can cause the beer to taste bland, watery, and even sour.
  • In addition, a chemical reaction occurs when UV light hits the sulfur compounds in beer, creating a new compound known as 3-methyl-2-butene-1-thiol (MBT). MBT is what gives what is commonly known as “skunky beer” its flavor and aroma. You may have experienced this in a beer that comes in a clear or green bottle that has been exposed to sunlight, and you can identify it by its distinct skunky odor.
  • Some beers are packaged in cans or dark bottles to prevent this exposure. However, it’s still important to store beer in a cool, dark place to minimize the effects of light, especially if the beer is being stored for an extended period of time.

So, how long does beer last unrefrigerated? The answer to that question depends on many factors, including the type of beer, the brewing process, and the packaging. But one thing is for sure, if you want your beer to taste as good as possible, limiting its exposure to light is a must.

Here is a table of some popular beer varieties and their recommended storage conditions:

Beer Variety Temperature Storage
IPA 38–55°F Refrigerated
Stout 45–55°F Refrigerated
Pale Ale 38–50°F Refrigerated or cellar
Pilsner 38–45°F Refrigerated
Belgian Ale 50–55°F Cellar

Ultimately, the key to ensuring your beer tastes great is keeping it away from UV light as much as possible. So, whether you’re storing it in your fridge or cellar, make sure to keep it in a cool, dark place, and avoid exposing it to direct sunlight for an extended period of time.

How long does beer last unrefrigerated? FAQs

Q: How long can I keep unopened beer at room temperature?
A: Unopened beer can last up to six months at room temperature, depending on the type and alcohol content.

Q: Can I drink beer that has been stored unrefrigerated for months?
A: It is not recommended to drink beer that has been stored unrefrigerated for months, as it can go bad and cause health problems.

Q: How long can I keep opened beer at room temperature?
A: Opened beer can last up to 24 hours at room temperature without significant flavor changes.

Q: Can I store unopened beer in a hot garage?
A: It is not recommended to store beer in a hot and humid place like a garage because high temperatures can spoil the beer and affect its taste.

Q: How can I tell if my unrefrigerated beer is still good to drink?
A: Look for signs of off-flavors, flatness or stale character. Poorly kept beer can have a strong smell, a sour taste, or visible sediment.

Q: Can unrefrigerated beer cause food poisoning?
A: Drinking unrefrigerated beer won’t cause food poisoning. However, it can cause stomach discomfort or diarrhea if the beer is spoiled or stale.

Q: Is it safe to drink unrefrigerated beer?
A: When beer is stored unrefrigerated, it can develop off flavors, lose its carbonation, and become flat. If the beer has no visible signs of spoilage and stored carefully, it should be safe to drink.

Closing thoughts

Thanks for reading our article on how long does beer last unrefrigerated. Taking care of your beer is essential to enjoy its taste and avoid health problems. Remember to store your beer in a cool and dry place and avoid exposure to heat. Don’t wait too long to drink your beer to enjoy it at its best. Cheers!