How Long Does a Keg Last?
A keg of beer will remain fresh to serve and drink anywhere between 30 and 90 days depending on what type of beer is in the keg and how it is stored.
Written by CraftJack | Updated | 3 min read
A variety of factors goes into that numbered window. For instance, storage temperature matters. Same with the alcohol content of the beer.
Why does this matter? Because having your own draft beer can be fun. Sure, bottled beer can be convenient. Further, most craft beer breweries serve their brews in four-pack tallboy cans these days.
However, if you’re planning a large party
A big part of understanding how to keep beer fresh is understanding the type of beer that your keg contains. As a rule of thumb, it's good to know that pasteurized beer will keep fresh longer than non-pasteurized beer using the same utilization and storage conditions. This does not apply if one keg is tapped and the other remains untapped.
Maintaining a consistent temperature between 36-40 degrees fahrenheit (2.2-4.4 celsius) will ensure that your keg’s shelf life is maximized. The easiest way to do that is to purchase a kegerator. Placing your keg in a bucket and adding bags of ice, while both a time-honored tradition of college and some people’s only means of cooling a keg, is both cost prohibitive over weeks and too hard to manage when it comes to keeping a keg cool.
Any drinker who has ever had foamy beer has experienced the joy of not keeping a keg at the recommended temperature above. Kegerator.com is the first to tell you that, “If you keep the temperature too cold, the beer will retain its carbonation. If this happens, you won’t be able to experience the true flavor and aroma of each pour.”
Fresh keg beer will last between 30 and 90 days in an untapped keg. While the actual expiration date itself can be a bit fluid based on the ABV, the ingredients, and the type of beer, the day that the process starts is solid. And that day is the day the beer is properly kegged at the brewery.
This is important to remember, as there are a few potential stops along the way if you’re purchasing kegs from your local liquor store. Unless your liquor store is next to the Anheuser-Busch factory in Saint Louis, your keg will have spent time chilling in the refrigerator of the liquor store and in the back of the distributor’s truck prior to its arrival in your hands.
All of that time should be factored into the expiration date of your keg. If it takes
How your dispense beer helps to play a critical role in the duration of a keg’s freshness. For instance, a CO2 driven system, like the kind found in a quality kegerator, will significantly outlast your common college “American D Tap” Sankey party pump.
Those beer faucet hand pumps introduce the oxidation process to the beer. Once that happens, you have the rest of that night and maybe the whole next day to keep your keg fresh. After that, it’s just gallons of stale beer (assuming you didn’t drink it all).
Beer freshness (and beer taste) will remain better when using carbon dioxide to pour your keg beer. Also, never let a keg get to room temperature after tapping it.
No, the size of the keg does not determine the freshness of the keg or its perceived expiration date.
No, the size of your CO2 tank does not impact the freshness of your keg beer. It only affects how much beer you can pour from the tap.
Yes, homebrewed beer that gets kegged will expire like any commercial brewer. Only you can determine how long it will last based on the variety of factors described above and how well you prep and seal the keg.
Cask Ale, like a college party keg, has a limited shelf life. You’re going to want to consume your Cask within a few days.
- Manual Pump means potential spoilage.
- Pasteurized beer lasts longer than unpasteurized.
- Different styles of beer have different expiration dates.
- Keeping the right temperature matters.
Also, don’t hesitate to clean your beer lines. Filthy draft lines will ruin your beer’s taste, and perhaps more importantly, to keep bacteria at bay. Don’t trust us? Trust The BrewEnthusiast, an Advanced Cicerone and consultant to professional brewers.
He shares this message every two weeks, “This is your bi-weekly reminder to clean your damn draught lines. Every two weeks. You will make more money and sell more beer. I promise. Every bar. Every beer line. Every two weeks.”
Check out The Draught Shop if you need help.