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Does Beer Go Bad?

The best beer in town. Close-up of glass with fresh beer standing on the wooden barrel with metal container in the background

You thought that keg was going to be a big hit, but now it’s a month later and you still have a half-full keg sitting in your keg and you can’t stomach another pint. Is that beer still good? How long before you need to wave the white flag, and just surrender that beer? While we aren’t here to advocate wasting beer, it is probably a good time to talk about how long a keg stays fresh.

How Long Does Draft Beer Remain Fresh?

There is no one hard and fast rule for how long a keg of draft beer will stay fresh. This is especially true for craft beers because different styles of beer last longer than others. A good rule of thumb is that the shelf life for a keg of pasteurized beer is about 90-120 days (or 3-4 months), and unpasteurized draft beer will last about 45-60 days (or 6-8 weeks) when stored at the proper temperature. Many import and domestic beers are pasteurized. If you’re unsure whether or not your beer has been pasteurized, then treat it like it is unpasteurized.

The best beer in town. Close-up of glass with fresh beer standing on the wooden barrel with metal container in the background

An important thing to remember is that the countdown starts the day your keg is filled at the brewery, not when you tap it or buy it. One of the first things you should do when you pick up a keg is to check is the label to see if it has a “born on” date or expiration date. If the beer in your keg is passed its expiration date, then we wouldn’t recommend drinking it.  

How Long Does A Tapped Keg Last?

The method you choose for dispensing your beer also plays a major role in how long your keg stays fresh. Using a kegerator or draft system that dispenses draft beer using CO2 should not impact your beer’s freshness as long as the keg is stored at the proper temperature and pressure. You can follow the guidelines explained above for determining how long your tapped keg will last.

Using a picnic pump, party pump or keg tap is a completely different situation. These introduce oxygen into your keg, which greatly speeds up the process of beer going bad. Since a picnic pump uses oxygen instead of carbon dioxide, a tapped keg will only last about 12-24 hours depending on the type of beer and how much oxygen was pumped into it. The oxygen will cause the beer to go flat and spoil quickly if you don’t finish the keg within that time frame.

What Temperature Should I Store My Keg?

The recommended temperature for storing draft beer is 38 degrees. This is the optimal temp for freshness and pouring. In addition to affecting the freshness of your beer, warm beer also has the tendency to pour foamy. Always make sure your keg is properly chilled when pouring. 

You cannot store a keg of beer at room temperature. Bacteria can form in beer if its temperature rises above 50 degrees. Since it is a liquid, keeping the beer at too cold of a temperature is also a no-no. Beer will freeze at around 28 degrees depending on its alcohol content.

 No longer worry about your beer getting too warm!  You’ve got better things to do than worry about serving warm beer. Say goodbye to the days where you are hoping someone brings a cooler to the party or ice-cold beer instead of that warm keg that simply does not last as lost as you do. Keep your keg ice cold with KegCold and keep the party going!

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