What’s the Longest You Can Keep Beer in Plastic Bottles?

Plastic bottles are an attractive choice for brewers. They’re shatterproof, lightweight, and generally cheaper. However, beer doesn’t last as long in plastic as glass or aluminum. 

Beer can be kept in plastic bottles for up to a year. If refrigerated, plastic-bottled beer can last up to a full year, while non-refrigerated is suitable for up to 6 months. Beer in plastic bottles has a higher chance of being oxidized which can alter its flavor and consistency.

There are ways to make your beer last longer in plastic bottles. Read on for proper storage tips and learn how to tell if your beer has gone bad.

Can You Keep Beer in Plastic Bottles?

You can keep beer in plastic bottles, but the risk of oxidation is higher because plastic is more susceptible to sunlight, moisture, high temperatures, and UVB rays. It is best to keep beer in plastic bottles for less than 2 weeks or to use oxygen barrier PET bottles for longer

While BPA is not commonly used to make bottles nowadays, researchers have discovered that people drinking from plastic bottles consume microplastics–small bits of plastic that can negatively affect our health.  

However, there are some serious pros to keeping beer in plastic bottles. These bottles are lightweight and, therefore, easier to transport. Also, you won’t have to worry about breaking them if you’re on the clumsier side because plastic is essentially shatterproof. 

If you prefer to store your beer in plastic bottles, learn about the best bottle types.

How To Store Beer in Plastic Bottles

You’ll need to choose which bottles you’d like to store beer in. There are several types of bottles you can use with pros and cons for each.

Watch this video on What Are the Best Bottles for Home Brewing:

If you opt for plastic, I’d recommend choosing oxygen-barrier PET bottles because they are less likely to cause oxidation. 

Also, darker bottles can protect your beer from light. Brown bottles prevent more light from entering than other colors, such as green or blue.

When storing the beer, make sure to do the following:

  • Screw the lids on tightly to prevent oxygen from entering.
  • Store upright to ensure the yeast doesn’t overly affect the beer’s flavor. This will also limit the amount of oxygen the beer is exposed to.
  • Keep the bottles in a cool, dry place out of the sun. High temperatures or sunlight can cause dangerous chemicals to leach from the plastic, accelerate the fermentation, and spoil your beer.
  • Aim to store your bottles at specific temperatures depending on the type of beer.

However, brewing and storing beer is much more than pouring the final product into bottles. You’ll need a list of other materials to get you started. 

If you’re an experienced brewer, you probably already have your preferred equipment. However, if you’re just starting out, I recommend you choose from my choices of top home brewing kits for beginners.  

How Do I Know if My Beer Is Expired?

When beer tastes terrible, you probably shouldn’t drink it. After all, what’s the point of consuming something if it doesn’t taste good? 

Beer can go bad if something wrong occurs during brewing or fermentation or if it’s simply expired. But how do you know if the beer has expired?

If your beer is expired, the taste, appearance, or consistency will be off. Check for discoloration, lack of carbonation, or bad taste. Homebrews usually last up to a year, but you should cut that time in half when storing beer in plastic bottles. 

The more time has passed, the more likely beer is to oxidize. When oxygen gets in beer, it can cause it to deteriorate rapidly. So stick to under 6 months for plastic bottled beer to be safe.

However, some good news is–even lousy beer won’t usually make you sick. Assuming you didn’t put any toxic ingredients into the mix, an off-tasting beer is typically more of a bad experience than a dangerous one.

How Long Beer Lasts When Left Out

Beer that’s been left out should last the standard 6-9 months if stored correctly. It should be kept in a cool, dry place away from bright lights or sunlight. 

If it’s been exposed to light, humidity, or heat– especially if it’s in plastic bottles– it can go bad quickly. 

Generally speaking, beer in plastic bottles can last up to 6 months, while beer in glass bottles can last the whole 9 months when left out.

How Long Beer Lasts in the Fridge

Conversely, beer stored in the fridge can last much longer, even a couple of years. However, I’d say one year is safe for plastic-bottled beer. 

However, freezing your beer won’t help it last longer. The freezing destroys carbonation and will likely pop the lids off the bottles. 

Can You Drink Out-of-Date Beer?

The short answer is, yes, you can. But while you can drink out-of-date beer, it doesn’t mean you should. 

The beer will likely taste off, leading to a less enjoyable experience. So can you still have that expired beer? Let’s take a look at some of the questions to ask before drinking too much.

How Does the Beer Smell?

Beer should have that classic beer smell. While some beers vary, when they go bad, they often have a skunky smell to them. If so, you’ll likely be put off by the scent alone and won’t need to ask any more questions. If you suspect that your beer may be out of date, give it a good sniff before having a taste.

How Does the Beer Look?

If your beer is much darker than it should be, it could have oxidized. This will cause the beer to darken and lose some flavor and consistency. You can still give it a taste test, but it’s unlikely to be good. If you notice something looks off–it probably is.

How Does the Beer Taste?

The last and most telling test is tasting the beer. If you enjoy the flavor of your usual homebrew and this bottle tastes off, it’s probably because it’s off. 

An off-taste might simply be flat, or it could taste spoiled or like cardboard. 

Conclusion

There’s no hard rule about how long you can keep beer in plastic bottles. However, the general consensus is that plastic-bottled beer is safe for up to 6 months when stored in a cool, dry place but not refrigerated. It should be good for up to a year if in the fridge.   

About HomeBrewAdvice

Hello, my name is Simon. Together with a group of writers I write about brewing beer and making wine. We all share a passion for the great things in life, such as making stuff from scratch.

The business of HomeBrewAdvice is to bring you great information, stories and product reviews from brewing at home, and making wine


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