If the beer has not been pasteurized, then the expiration date on the keg must be taken seriously. Although the beer should still be safe to drink in most circumstances, the quality of the flavor profile will be seriously reduced. Some unpasteurized beers may only last about 3 weeks in a keg.
Why You Need to Use a Kegerator for Your Beer
When you use a manual pump to access the beer in a keg, what you’re doing is adding oxygen into the interior environment. This creates an oxidation effect with the beer that will make it begin to change its flavor almost immediately.
A kegerator will keep your beer pressurized, but without the oxidation, and that is why it can stay fresher for a longer period.
If you’re using a high alcohol content beer in a keg, you can extend the time of the beer even longer. Any beer above 5% alcohol can stay fresh in a kegerator for up to 6 months. If you go above 9% alcohol content, you could stretch that storage time to over 1 year. Go above 10% and you can hit 2-3 years of storage.
That is assuming that the storage conditions of the beer remain consistent. If your kegerator loses power or the temperature settings are changed for some reason, it will affect the integrity of the beer, no matter how old it is.
How Cold Should My Keg Be to Extend Its Lifespan?
If you wish to extend the life of your keg to its maximum time of freshness, then you must keep it at the proper temperature. For most beers, the recommended storage temperature with a keg is 38F. Some craft, homebrew, and IPA options may recommend slightly warmer or slightly cooler storage options.
No beer should be stored at room temperature for a prolonged period.
You should never store your beer below 32F unless it is directly recommended by the brewer.
If your beer becomes too warm, it will lose its carbonation quickly, create an excessive head, and produce a beer that tastes stale.
On the other hand, if beer becomes too cold, the carbonation is overly retained in the beer and that lessens the flavor and aroma that can be experienced when being consumed.
As long as you can store your keg at the right temperature and keep oxygen from interacting with the beer it is storing, then you can have fresh draft beer available to you for several months. Purchase higher quality beer and you can extend that timeframe to a year or two – if not more.
If you don’t have a kegerator for storage, consider converting one of the best beer fridges to get the job done.
That way you can have a cold one whenever you want one.