How long does beer stay good in a keg?

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long does beer stay good in a keg” with an in-depth analysis of how long does a keg of beer stay fresh. Moreover, we are going to discuss the difference between the keg and the bottled beers.

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long does pasteurized beer stay good in a keg?

A pasteurized keg of beer stays good for about 3-4 months (90-120 days) if stored properly. Moreover, the shelf life of the keg of beer varies according to the ingredients present in its formulation, the processing techniques, and the storage conditions.

You can read more about the pasteurization of beer here.

How long does unpasteurized beer stay good in a keg?

An unpasteurized keg of beer stays good for about 6-8 weeks (45-60 days) if stored properly. The unpasteurized keg of beer has a shorter shelf life than the pasteurized keg of beer.

Moreover, you should always consider the expiry date written on the keg of beer and it is not recommended to drink a draught or craft beer that is past its expiration date.

How long does beer stay good in a tapped keg?

Carbon dioxide dispensing

So if you have a draught system that dispenses the beer with the help of pressurized carbon dioxide then it won’t have any negative impact on the freshness of the beer. Thus a pasteurized tapped keg of beer will last for about 3-4 months (90-120 days). While on the other hand, the unpasteurized tapped keg of beer lasts for about 6-8 weeks (45-60 days).

Manual dispensing

Now, if there is a tap attached to the keg of beer or if you are using a picnic pump or a party pump to dispense the beer from the keg, then each time you are opening the tap, some oxygen from the environment finds its way to your keg of beer. Moreover, in the case of the picnic pump, oxygen is used instead of carbon dioxide to dispense the beer. Due to this oxygen, the shelf life of the keg of beer decreases, and such a beer lasts for only about 12-24 hours depending upon the quantity of oxygen that has entered the keg and the type of the beer.

What is the optimum temperature to store a keg of beer?

So the optimum temperature to store your keg of beer is 38 °F according to the draught beer quality manual. This is the temperature that preserves the quality and freshness of the keg of beer for a long time. 

If you are storing the beer at a temperature higher than 38°F, your beer would be foamy when dispensed in the glass from the keg as the warmer temperature liberates the carbon dioxide more quickly from the beer. On the other hand, if you keep your beer at a higher temperature like 50 °F, bacteria can even spoil it.

It is not recommended to keep your beer at a really cold temperature as the beer is liquid that can freeze at about 28 °F depending upon its alcoholic content.

What are the factors that impact the shelf life of a keg of beer?

Several factors have an impact on the shelf life of a keg of beer.

  1. Material from which keg is made (metal/ wood)
  2. Dispensing system (carbon dioxide/ tap/ manual pump)
  3. The temperature at which the keg of beer is stored
  4. Pasteurized or unpasteurized beer
  5. Condition of kegerator

How to store a keg of beer properly?

  1. You should always store the keg of beer at 38 °F.
  2. It is recommended to use carbon dioxide to dispense the beer out of the keg rather than oxygen (used in manual or picnic pumps). As oxygen can negatively impact the quality and freshness of the beer.

What is the difference between keg beer and bottled beer?

  1. Draught beers that are served from the keg are known as the keg beers. They are dispensed directly from the keg into the glass. While bottle beers are the ones that are stored in cans or bottles. 
  2. Both of them have noticeable differences in their taste and smell with some people regarding the beer in the keg being more flavorsome. The keg of the draught beer additionally keeps oxygen from leaking in, in this way keeping the beer fresh for a long time, as it is halting the oxidation reaction.
  3. When we talk about the sunlight vulnerability then beer in the keg is safer as it is difficult for the UV lights from the sun to penetrate the kegs while it is easier for them to enter the glass bottles in which beer is stored.
  4. When it comes to cleanliness the bottled beers are far more hygienic than the beer stored in a keg.
  5. In the case of portability, the bottled beer has an upper hand on the beer in a keg as the former can be taken everywhere but it is really difficult to move the latter from place to place.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long does beer stay good in a keg” with an in-depth analysis of how long does a keg of beer stay fresh. Moreover, we discussed the difference between the keg and the bottled beers.

Citations

https://content.kegworks.com/blog/how-long-does-a-keg-stay-fresh

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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