Many would regard expired beer as a unicorn and not something you come across daily. However, you may end up with old beer and want to use it wisely. In addition, some will purchase beers for cooking or a special occasion and later discover extra or leftovers as forgotten in the fridge or cabinet. Even if old beer is rare, it would be shameful to waste it.
When only one year old, expired beer is usually still good for cooking or grilling recipes. Before using more aged beer in food, smell it to determine if it is usable. Also, if it tastes off, do not use it. Although you won’t get food poisoning from old beer, you may get a runny stomach.
All beers will have a Born On, Best Before, or Expiry Date that will indicate if the beer is old.
When you discover old beer in your fridge, you want to know if it is still good to drink and if you can use expired beer for cooking and grilling. The answers are simple, yet it requires some know-how before you can say yes or no to using old beer.
Is Expired Beer Still Good For Cooking And Grilling?
The expiry date on beer pertains more to the date best for drinking. Because the flavor and freshness of beer will degrade over time, a future date is derived from the manufacturing day to guarantee optimal taste.
However, the best-before date is one of many ways to determine if beer is safe for consumption. We will discuss the other indicators a bit later.
In addition, the date on the beer also exempts the brewery from complaints after the said expiry date. Therefore, beer’s typical four to six months shelf life could be a little longer.
A beer older than that or more than one year can still be suitable for cooking and grilling. However, the beer type, storage method, and container will also affect its longevity.
How Long After Expiry Is Beer Still Good For Cooking?
Again, we must distinguish between drinking and using old beer in cooking or grilling. Typically, the beer expiry dates of about six months are the brewer’s comfort time ensuring their beer will be and taste the same as on day one.
After that, it is anybody’s guess, and external factors will play a role. So let’s discuss a few of that beer shelve-life influencers now.
Beer connoisseurs believe that beer will improve in taste during the first two months, settle for about six months, and then start deteriorating.
Also, some beers have a higher alcohol content and may last longer. In addition, you can store beers in cans or dark glass bottles for about a year or longer as the light will add to the beer-fading process.
So, clear-bottled beers will stick closer to their expiry dates.
Also, the different beer styles will affect the quality after the best-before dates. For example, beers with higher hop content, like stouts, may stay useable for longer.
We now know that, on average, most beers, less than a year old, should still be fine.
However, over time, any beer can and probably will deteriorate to an undrinkable state. So, the point is, if you can drink it, you can cook and grill with it.
Lastly, you don’t need fresh beer for all grilling recipes – for example, beer-can-chicken and beer bread works well with stale or older beer.
That said, expired beer does not mean skunky beer.
Therefore, if you open an aged beer, smell it, taste it, and if it’s only flat with no sediments, you can use it in your cooking. However, after about one year of its Born-On date, you need to test it before using it in grilling or cooking.
How Do You Know When Beer Is Old?
The first and easiest way to see if beer is old is to check the best before or expiry date. Then, drink it or use it in your fine cooking or grilling recipes.
In addition, there are a few tests that you can do with expired beer to determine if it is okay to use in food. Older or stale beer may not taste good but could still be perfectly fine for most cooking options.
Testing The Age Of A Beer
Below is our four-senses test that may help.
The hearing test – Open the can or bottle. Old beer will not make that swooshing sound when opening. However, it may only be stale and suitable for grilling options.
The visual test – If there’s any sediment at the bottom, it could be okay for cooking. So use only the part without it. Also, it will have less or almost no white foamy head and no fizzy bubbles rising from the bottom up.
The tippy tongue test – Older beer will taste flat, malty, or even sweet instead of the bitter hops flavor. Discard the beer if it gives you the creeps by just tasting it. Else, it may be useable in that beer bread recipe.
The smelling test – This test is the deciding use-or-not indicator. Smelly beer is awful and has a skunky smell. Some will describe it as almost like cardboard or popcorn. Nevertheless, diacetyl in beer will give it a funny, unusual taste when it is off and unusable, not even on your pellet grill beer recipes.
Will Cooking With Old Beer Give You Food Poisoning?
Many believe that the expiration dates on beer containers are merely best-enjoy dates indicating the brewery’s confirmation of intended taste and freshness.
Therefore, the risk of food poisoning or general health safety consuming old beer is low. In addition, bacteria in opened beer cans are good bacteria, and food illness pathogens can’t survive in beer, even when the beer is old.
Okay, never say never, and there are limits to everything. However, beer has a long drinking shelf life and even longer for cooking or food recipes.
Worst case scenario, you may get a runny stomach and nausea when drinking or using too-old beer that is off. Avoid it by using fresh unexpired, or beer that is not older than one year.
What Can You Do With Expired Or Old Beer?
Expired or beer that has passed its best-before date could still be drinkable, used in cooking or grilling, or many other valuable options.
Therefore, do the recommended four-senses test and determine if it is safe for consumption or for other applications.
Below are typical uses and lovely recipe options for old, expired beer.
- When the taste is not typical, but the beer is still good, add a touch of lemon juice or lime
- Beer bread, beer can chicken, and beer-boiling sausages are excellent and easy recipes
- Use beer in a water pan for smoking meats, like pork shoulder for pulled pork
- Use beer in a marinade or truss a chicken
- Boil hot dogs or bratwurst in beer for succulent brats
- Cook rice in beer for authentic Peruvian chicken and rice dishes
- Beer works excellent as an ingredient in plant or lawn fertilizer, or add it to your compost pile
- Many believe that beer is suitable for your hair
- Use old beer for cleaning or shining furniture
- Use beer to rid your garden of slugs
It is safe to use beer in most food recipes after its expiry date if you do the four-senses test to ensure that it smells and tastes fine. The typical rule of thumb is to refrain from using old beer in your food if you wouldn’t drink it.
However, flat or stale beer would still be good for grilling or cooking but not for drinking.
Lastly, the risk of food poisoning when drinking old, expired beer is low.
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