Delhi Bars Serving Expired Beer: Is It Harmful? How Can You Tell?

Is drinking expired beer bad for your health? How can you tell that the beer has gone bad?

3 min read

Imagine this: you’re sitting at your favourite hangout spot, catching up with friends over some chilled expired beer. Yes, you read that right. I wrote “expired” beer.

Nine prominent venues at popular spots like Hauz Khas, New Friends Colony and Connaught Place were found serving “expired beer” during surprise inspections between 19 August 2017 and 13 April 2018, the Excise department has said.

Want to puke up that beer from last night already? Hold the thought for a moment. Is it really harmful for your health?

Experts say that drinking beer that is beyond it’s expiration date is not a health hazard per se. But its taste and quality goes bad. Let’s clear the air on this.

How Can You Tell That the Beer Has Gone Bad?

Is drinking expired beer bad for your health? How can you tell that the beer has gone bad?

You need to pay attention to the taste, smell and looks of the beer to tell whether it’s spoilt.

The beer that is close to expiry or has expired wouldn’t have a good head (froth of top of beer). It’ll have an oily after-taste and have a weird odour. It’ll taste and smell sour. Fresh beer has a delicious yeasty odour.
Parul Pratap, Cocktail Chef

Parul adds that unless you’re sure of how you like your draught beer and what it’s flavour and texture should be like, go for bottled beer.

You can check the “best by” date on the beer bottle, which is generally 8-12 months from manufacturing. The only way you can tell if the keg of draught beer has expired is if you ask the management of the bar or restaurant to show you where it’s installed and check the conditions.

Expiration date of draught beer depends on different things. It’s generally 6 months since most draught beers are imported and the travel time is factored in.

These expiry dates actually mean that it’s best to consume the beer before the said date to retain its best quality. It doesn’t mean that you’ll fall sick if you consume it.
Is drinking expired beer bad for your health? How can you tell that the beer has gone bad?

Is It Unsafe to Drink Expired Beer?

Generally, the higher the alcohol content of the beer the less you need to be concerned with the use by date. The beer will not be bad in the sense that its unsafe to drink, since no harmful pathogens grow once the beer is fully fermented.

Alcohol itself doesn’t expire. Even beer for that matter, which has around 5% alcohol, if consumed after its expiry date, won’t harm you. The barley in it is fermented, and fermentation of carbohydrate results in change of taste rather than any health hazard. Even small amounts of alcohol would be to some extent anti-bacterial.
Dr Ashwini Setya, Gastroenterologist and Programme Director, Max Hospital

Parul agrees and adds that at most it may give you a bad buzz. “It’ll start tasting so bad after a point that you won’t consume it anyway,” she says.

So, while you should definitely check that you’re not drinking expired beer, don’t be too worried if you end up drinking some. It’ll ruin your taste buds probably, but won’t be that big a deal health-wise.

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