How Long Does a Keg Stay Fresh in a Kegerator?
Posted by Ron on 26th Oct 2022
If you own a kegerator, you’ve probably asked yourself the question, “how long does a keg in a kegerator last?”, at least once and never got a definitive answer. Depending on who you ask, the answers could range from 4-6 weeks to 4-6 months. Where’s the truth?
The truth, as always, lies somewhere in between. In this article, we’re going to give you a definitive answer to the question “How long does a keg last in a kegerator?” and also give a few tips on how to keep draft beer fresh.
So, how long do kegs stay fresh? Read on to find out.
How Long Is Beer Good in a Kegerator?
The reason why you might have gotten so many different answers to the question “how long does beer stay good in a kegerator?” is because there are quite a few factors to consider. The main ones are as follows:
- Style of beer
Even though it seems rather obvious when you think of it, there are still people who refuse to believe that different styles of beer may have different shelf lives. Which should be provided by the manufacturer and/or brewer and which you should refer to.
Mass-produced beers would often (but not always) have a shelf life of 120 - 180 days (4-6 months). For craft beers, there’s no way of telling - only the brewer could know. Even though shelf life should be stated on the label, always be sure to double-check that information from the place where you purchase your kegged beer.
- Pasteurized or unpasteurized
This is HUGELY important! First of all, you should know whether the beer in your keg is pasteurized or not (if you’re not sure, treat it as unpasteurized). Typically, unpasteurized beers would have shorter shelf life (6-8 weeks) than the regular, pasteurized beers. Again, be sure to refer to the information on the label!
A few other factors to consider when answering the question “How long does a keg in a kegerator last before it goes bad?” are how clean your beer lines are and how you tap your keg (more on that below).
How Long Does a Tapped Keg Last in a Kegerator?
The tapping method also matters a lot in deciding how long your beer will last and stay fresh. Naturally, if you dispense your keg using a draft beer dispensing system with CO2 or nitrogen and store it at a proper temperature, you can refer to the manufacturer’s shelf life.
If you tap your keg using a party pump, this dramatically decreases the shelf life since you’re letting in oxygen, which causes beer to go flat within 12-24 hours. In this case, the beer should be consumed and the keg should be finished strictly within that time frame.
Why Keg Storage Temperature Matters
Keg storage temperature is crucial to the taste of beer. A few degrees north or south of proper, and all the contents of a keg will be ruined irreversibly. Much like shelf life, the recommended temperature at which you should store your keg, varies depending on the style of beer.
What Temperature Should I Store My Keg At?
For most beers, according to the Draft Beer Quality Manual, the recommended storage temperature would be 38 degrees Fahrenheit (3-4 degrees Celsius). However, as mentioned before, this could vary depending on the style of beer. As always, be sure to refer to the manufacturer’s (brewer’s) recommendations.
But what will happen if you don’t follow these recommendations? Well, if you leave the keg at room temperature (60 degrees Fahrenheit and higher) for more than 5-10 minutes, bacteria will inevitably start to form inside the keg, eventually ruining your beer and even making it unsafe to drink.
If you decrease the temperature down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit or lower, the beer will most likely freeze, which is never a good thing and will definitely ruin its taste.
In case of an emergency when you can’t maintain the proper temperature for your keg, try using a keg blanket or a bucket of ice. This will help you keep the beer in the keg cool until you fix the kegerator and restore the storage temperature to normal.
Top 5 Tips for Keeping Draft Beer Fresh
Specialists at Beverage Craft have put together a bunch of useful tips to help you keep your draft beer fresh at all times.
Tip 1. Always observe the manufacturer’s (brewer’s) shelf life
Keep in mind that every style of beer may have its own shelf life that differs from what you may have thought.
Tip 2. Tap date ≠ fill date
With kegged beer, the countdown to expiration starts with the keg fill date and not the date when you purchase and/or tap the keg first. Drinking beer that’s past its expiration date is something we would never recommend you to do.
Tip 3. Don’t forget to clean your gas and beer lines
Keeping your kegerator lines clean is the key to fresh, tasty beer. Clean them every time you change a keg or once every 2-3 months, depending on how much beer you dispense.
Tip 4. Keg that’s been tapped via a party pump will only last up to 24 hours
No matter how strongly you cool your beer down in this case, nothing will prevent it from going flat in a day or two at best (unlike the classic draft dispensing system powered by CO2 or nitrogen).
Tip 5. Not sure if a beer is pasteurized or not? Treat it as unpasteurized
This one says it all pretty clear.
That’s it for now! Hope you will find this information useful. If you’re looking for a new kegerator or would like to expand your existing setup, be sure to check out commercial keg coolers from Beverage Craft. We’ve got some really tasty models and sweet deals.
And if you’re into kegerators and draft beer, there is plenty of other useful articles on our website - here are the ones you might like: