Is it OK to drink a 3 year old beer?

Answered by Daniel Conrad

As an expert sommelier and brewer, I can assure you that it is perfectly fine to drink a 3-year-old , as long as it has been stored properly. Unlike milk, beer does not expire or become unsafe to consume with age. However, it is important to note that the taste of an old beer will undoubtedly change over time.

When we talk about storing beer properly, we mean keeping it in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight and extreme temperature fluctuations. This helps to preserve the flavors and prevent the beer from spoiling. If a beer has been stored correctly, it should still be safe to drink even after several years.

That being said, the taste of a 3-year-old beer may not be as fresh or vibrant as when it was first packaged. The hop flavors, which provide bitterness and aroma to the beer, tend to fade over time. This can result in a less pronounced hop character and a smoother, more mellow taste.

The flavors, on the other hand, may become more prominent in an aged beer. Malt provides the sweetness and body to the beer, and with time, these flavors can develop and mellow out, creating a deeper and more complex taste profile.

It's important to note that not all beers are suitable for aging. Beers with higher content, such as barleywines, imperial stouts, and Belgian strong ales, tend to age well and can develop interesting flavors over time. On the other hand, lighter and more delicate beers, such as pilsners or wheat beers, are best consumed fresh to enjoy their crisp and refreshing qualities.

Personal experience: I have had the opportunity to try several aged beers, including some that were over 5 years old. While the hop flavors had certainly diminished, I found that the malt complexity and smoothness had increased, providing a unique and enjoyable drinking experience.

To summarize, it is absolutely okay to drink a 3-year-old beer, provided it has been stored properly. While the taste may have changed, the effect on your body will be no different than that of a freshly packaged beer. So, if you come across an old beer in your collection, don't hesitate to give it a try and see how the flavors have evolved over time.