shelf life of commercial beer? (while in fridge)
just wondering....i have a case or so of regular beer (sleeman cream ale) that's been in my fridge for 8 months or so
is it still 100% fine and as good?
there appears to be a small amount of particulate in the bottle if i look - but maybe new beer has this too?
Most commercial "macro" beers (i.e., normal alcoholic strength, pasteurized and/or filtered) in North America are given a 3-6 month "pull date" by the breweries. (Euro imports are usually given one year- but that's more to allow them time to ship and distribute it rather than some ability to survive better).
Refrigerated beer of that style is going to last *better* (altho' Sleeman's clear bottles don't help, but in the 'frig, it's at least not in direct sunlight or florescent light) but it's not 100% anymore (some would say it really hasn't been 100% since the day it left the brewery dock). But, for most beer drinkers- especially those who drink their beer ice cold and straight out of the bottle- it is still "fine"- I doubt you'd have many people object to it at a party (uh, unless your were inviting me -g-), etc.
As with milk, which most folks would at least "sniff" if the date was close or past, just taste it or, since you're already a bit paranoid about it, have someone else taste it. As the beer gets older, it will develop a sediment or get cloudy, loses it's hoppiness and eventually tastes "stale" (usually described as "cardboard"). Nothing that'll kill you and if you don't like it, I'm sure you can give it away to a less descriminating drinker. "Hey, I've got this 8 month old case of beer and I wondered if ..." "I'LL TAKE IT!".
I recently toured the Anheuser-Busch plant in Van Nuys. They like a 90 day rule on the store shelf. One interesting tip is that you should pour your beer into a glass. That can of beer has soaked up odors and a glass lets you smell the nice beer much better than a can or bottle. That's why we tend to like draft beer better because it is drunk in a glass, they told us. It is the same beer into bottles, cans and taps.