Is This Beer Safe To Drink?

Often people will say they have an old bottle or can of something, and wonder if it’s safe to drink.  Here’s a short guide as to how to figure that out.

What The Hell Is This Shit?
What The Hell Is This Shit?

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

So question number one is has the seal been broken?  Usually with cans this is super easy.  Squeeze slightly.  Does it feel like a normal sealed can of beer?  Then everything should be good.  

With bottles this is more of a guess.  Is it mostly full?  Sometimes the only way with a bottle the only way to find out is to pop the top off and if you get that satisfying carbonated fizz, life’s good.

So, what if the beer has lost all it’s carbonation?  Again, as long as it’s been sealed, it should be alright to drink.  

It's New Miller Litgh Life
It’s New Miller Litgh Life

Delicious and Not-So-Delicious Floaties

Another question, is anything growing in the beer?  For really old beers and unpasteurized beers, it’s very common to have some sort of precipitate at the bottom of the bottle/can.  This isn’t what we’re looking for.  

Look for mold or bacteria.  Either of these should be very apparent in either visually or in odor.  Obviously beer is going to smell different if it’s been sitting in a sealed container for a few years, but we’re talking about something that is obviously not beer.  In this unlikely scenario, it would most likely be due to the can/bottle not having a proper seal, which is why we check for that first.

For More On Delicious Floaties, check out our previous article on what they are and where they come from.

Beer Sediment
Delicious Floaties

A Note On Very Old Cans and Beers

So here’s a funny thing, if you put beer in a straight up aluminum can, a chemical reaction happens.  So these days, they line cans with BPA, which is somewhat controversial.  However, as literally billions of people drink from these cans daily and seem to be alright, I’ll chance it.

If you have a can from the 70’s… what is it lined with?  I couldn’t find any data on this.  Surely someone knows.  Has the lining dissolved and gone into the beer?  There’s really no way of knowing.  So keep that in mind.  I’m not trying to dissuade anyone, but at least go in with your eyes open.

Proudly Brewed In Omaha... Before I Was Born
Proudly Brewed In Omaha… Before I Was Born

Try It, You Might Like It

Everything check out?  Alright, it’s time to try it.  You’ve given it a literal smell test, right?  Still smell like malt?  Cool, give it a shot.

Chris Bettini Checking Out Some Old Beer
Chris Bettini Checking Out Some Old Beer at Max & Joe’s Belgian Tavern in Omaha, Nebraska

The Drainpour

If you’ve asked all these questions and have gotten to this point in the article, likely the beer in question is old and sucks.  Why did you do this?  Time to open a fresh one and wash that taste out of your mouth.

However, if you found a full can from the 70’s and didn’t have at least five people standing around waiting to take a taste, you’re doing it wrong.

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