How Long Will A Keg Last?

Beer being poured from a keg system, but how long will a keg last?

All beers are at their best when the keg gets full at the brewery. As days go past, the freshness reduces. In general, the fresher your keg draft beer is, the better it tastes.

Keg beer will remain fresh if dispensed with CO2 while maintaining the proper temperature and pressure:

  • Non-pasteurized draft beer for about 45-60 days.
  • Pasteurized draft beer for about 90-120 days

Dispensing keg beer with a party pump (air):

  • Any draft beer will remain fresh for no more than 8-12 hours.
  • Air contains oxygen, and oxygen is an enemy of beer.

For quality assurance, most breweries now print a freshness date on the cap or side of each keg. Depending on the brewery, this may either be a “born on” (filled) date or an “expiration” date, read the label carefully. While the shelf life for each of the brewers may differ, days in inventory before it reaches you are factored into the shelf life of the keg.

For example, non-pasteurized beer has a shelf life of 45-60 days. Here is an example of a keg’s life:

  • Days 0-10 (Transit / Satellite Warehousing)
  • Days 10-20 (Distributor Warehouse / Retail Delivery)
  • Days 20-60 (At Retail / Home)

So the average keg has 25-40 days of shelf life at retail or in a home.

keg of draft beerkeg of draft beer party pumps

How Long Will A Keg Last Past the Born-On Date?

It is essential to check the label of a keg following its pickup from a brewery as you will find key information such as the beer’s “born on” date or expiration date. The countdown starts the day the keg is filled, not tapped or purchased. 

If the beer within your keg has passed its expiration date, then it is highly recommended that consumption is avoided due to potential health risks and quality control issues. Keeping track of these details allows you to ensure that your customers’ drinking experience is a positive one.

Generally, pasteurized beers will last up to three or four months when stored properly. Keep in mind that most imports and domestics are indeed pasteurized. However, if you’re not absolutely sure, then treat the beer as if it were unpasteurized. In this case, it should be consumed within six to eight weeks. 

While there are exceptions to every guideline, this good rule of thumb can help maximize your customers’ enjoyment of a beer while keeping your business’s waste down.

How Long Will A Keg Last Stored at the Proper Temperature?

Properly storing and chilling draft beer is essential for achieving the ideal flavor and pour. At a recommended temperature of 38 degrees, the beer can remain fresh and carbonated to the longer ends of the ranges mentioned above. 

Sub-optimal temperatures can cause the beer to become foamy when poured or, at worst, lead to bacteria growth if temperatures surpass 50 degrees. It’s important to keep in mind that although chilling is important, extremely cold temperatures such as 28 degrees may cause the beer to freeze depending on its alcohol content. Overall, effective storage and precise chilling of draft beer are essential for providing perfect pours with maximum flavor every time for as long as possible.

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