MA of Reader:

I have a cabin in Julian that has a collection of nine bottles of beer in the fridge. Two Budweisers were left over from a housewarming party in April of '04, two Heinekens came from my mother-in-law's, etc. I don't drink, but I keep them there to offer to guests. But then I began to wonder. Does beer go bad? How long does beer last?

-- LB of Poway

Some European brewers take pride in how their specially blended stouts and ales age like fine wines. Three-year-old Budweiser will taste like feet. Standard beer in a can, continuously refrigerated, is drinkable for six months. A year at most, depending on how it's been brewed. Bottles are more unstable, from light infiltration. Beer is full of hops and grains and is actually pretty fragile. (But unlike ketchup, I don't think beer has made it onto the FDA's list of vegetables.) Even the slightest traces of air and bacteria in the package will eventually kill it. And unless you want to be completely friendless, I'd pitch that old brew.

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