One of the common questions asked at brewpubs and breweries is does beer go bad in heat or can cold beer get warm? Just like with beer stores most brewpubs or craft breweries package and then store their beer cold in order to preserve its freshness. When someone buys either cans, bottles, growlers, or crowlers and places them in their warm trunk to transport them home or plans on taking the beer on an outdoor excursion on a hot day, their concern is valid as the beer is certainly going to heat up. But does this mean the beer will go bad?
If this is a concern for you, put your mind at ease as your beer will not go bad on your drive home nor will it spoil during a day of outdoor activities in the heat. While it is true that extended periods of exposure to heat will over time reduce the quality of the beer, short exposures will have no negative effects on its flavor or quality.
Does Beer Go Bad in Heat?
It is a fact that exposing beer to warmer temperatures for long periods of time can have a detrimental effect on the quality of the beer. One of the worst enemies to the quality and freshness of a beer is what is referred to as Oxidation, which is when the beer is exposed to oxygen. All beer whether canned, bottled, or packaged in growlers & crowlers will be exposed to some degree of oxygen. Storing beer in a cool environment like a refrigerator or basement slows down the oxidation process. The warmer a beer is the quicker the effects of oxidation on the beer occur.
Oxidation creates off flavors in the beer, these flavors although always noticeable vary depending on the style of the beer. Hoppy beers will lose their hop flavor, and lighter and darker beers will both lose most of their malt flavor while also tasting of wet paper or stale cardboard. Darker beers will also tend to take on flavors of rotten fruit or sherry-like.
There is a rule of thumb in the beer industry when it comes to storing beer, beer will go bad in 3 days if kept at 90℉, 30 days if stored at 72℉ and it will last as long as 300 days if stored at 38℉.
So clearly heat does have a negative impact on your beer, but in the short term you do not have to be concerned, however, when storing your beer long term it is recommended that you do so at cooler temperatures.
Can Cold Beer Get Warm?
Most people have concerns over whether it is alright for their beer to go from being cold to warm. Meaning for example if they stored it in the refrigerator but decide at a later point to store it in their basement, garage, or kitchen cupboard where it will warm up, will it go bad or will it be ok?
The good news is that beer can go from being cold to warm and even back to being cold without its quality or flavor diminishing. Beer is quite durable in that regard and can stand fluctuations and variances in temperature. If you think about it, between when a beer is brewed, packaged, stored, transported to stores, and finally reaches you it has gone through numerous temperature changes along the way and its quality was maintained.
Just keep in mind the rule of thumb we previously discussed for how long beer can remain at certain temperatures without going bad and you will be fine.
At What Temperature Does Beer Go Bad?
There is no specific temperature that your beer can reach that will instantly cause the beer to go bad. As you have seen it is not heat or temperature per se that causes beer to go bad but rather it is the oxidation of the beer and warmer temperatures can speed this process up. All beer will eventually become oxidized and go bad, the goal is to slow this process down for as long as possible.
The combination of time and temperature are the culprits in a beer becoming stale. The higher the temperature and the longer the time frame it is stored at said temperature will determine how fast the beer goes bad.
Do You Have to Refrigerator Beer?
No beer does not need to be refrigerated. Although it will extend the life of your beer, the main reason people put their beer in the refrigerator is because they are drinking the mass-produced commercial beer that is less flavorful than craft beer and needs to be consumed cold to improve its taste and hide its lower quality.
In many places in the world, beer is actually served at room temperature in order to truly enjoy its complex flavors and aromas. Beer stored at room temperature will stay fresh for a very long time. So if you have concerns about storing your beer at room temperature, lay them aside, beer stored at room temperature will not go bad for many many months later.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is it bad to keep beer in a hot car?
Transporting your beer home in your car is perfectly fine, however, it is not recommended to keep your beer in your hot car for extended periods of time, a couple of hours will be fine, but longer periods of time can have a negative effect on it.
How can you tell if beer is bad?
The taste of the beer will let you know if the beer has gone bad from heat or any other reasons. There are actually numerous off-flavors that can be present in a beer, you can read about them here: 20 Beer Off Flavors
Can you store beer in a hot place?
There is a general rule of thumb in the brewing world in regard to how long beer can be stored at different temperatures and still maintain its freshness. It is said that a beer kept at 100℉ for a week will be as stale tasting as a beer kept at 70℉ for two months and one kept at 40℉ for a year.
When it comes down to the question of does beer go bad in heat the answer is it all depends on the temperature and duration of time it is exposed to the heat. Short periods of heat exposure will not affect the quality of the beer.
For most people the concern is whether they can transport the cold beer home or take it outside to enjoy on a hot day, neither of these situations will reduce the quality or freshness of the beer.
For others, their concern is whether they have to refrigerate their beer; however, rest assured beer can be stored for many months at room temperature and not go bad. And yes it is ok to allow cold beer to get warm and even cold again. Thankfully beer is a very hearty beverage and can withstand much.
P.S. If you are into making your own beer or want to try it, be sure to take advantage of our gift to you of Big Robb’s top 5 favorite recipes from his brewpub. Details are on the side of the blog or at the bottom if you are on your phone. Cheers!