Does Root Beer Expire?

  • By: Max S.
  • Date: September 13, 2022
  • Time to read: 5 min.

When you discover an old pack of root beer that you remember purchasing a few months back but never got to drink, you may wonder what to do with it seeing as it’s probably past the expiration date: Drink or throw away? 

Or, when you can’t read the expiration date on your root beer, how do you know if it’s okay to drink?

Read on to find out if root beer expires and what to do with old cans or bottles of root beer past their expiration date.

Root beer is a soft drink found in North America. It was formerly flavored using sassafras extract from the roots and barks of the tree, but the extract was banned in 1960 due to carcinogenic tendencies.

The soft drink is now made using synthetic chemicals intended to taste like the sassafras extract, and some manufacturers use other ingredients as the primary flavor, such as wintergreen oil. 

Sweeteners make the bitter mixture of natural ingredients sweet, giving it a distinct taste that people either love so much or hate completely.

can of a&w root beer
Does Root Beer Expire?

Root beers are usually non-alcoholic. Hard root beers are alcoholic variants of this amazing soft drink. They are also caffeine-free (except in some cases, find out more here). 

So, does root beer expire?

Everything expires, but root beer does not expire as soon as you think. A popular misconception is that the date on the bottle of root beers and other sodas is the expiry date, but this is false.

The date printed on some root beers and sodas is the ‘best-before,’ ‘sell before,’ or ‘use before’ date, meaning the soft drink retains its 100% freshness until that date. The sodas that are past this date are not expired yet; they are just no longer 100% fresh and may not taste exactly as you expect.

In some cases, such as in A&W root beer, the date printed on the can is the manufacture date, and the drink does not expire until well after the shelf life. Cans that carry a manufacture date are best before the end of their shelf life, but this doesn’t mean they expire after the shelf life.

Hence, root beer does expire, just like everything else. But its expiration is not dependent on its ‘best-before’ date or shelf life. Drinks past this date are sometimes in perfect condition and taste just as they were immediately after production.

Can Root Beer Go Bad?

bottle of virgils root beer
Can Root Beer Go Bad?

The answer is yes. Root beer can go bad. After some time past its best-before date, the drink loses some characteristics, such as carbonation, flavor, and color. In some cases, the container looks very bad. Follow these steps to check if your root beer is bad:

  • Flavor Test: The drink’s flavor determines if it is good and safe to imbibe. Drinks lose their flavor after considerable time after the ‘best before’ date. If your root beer tastes different from its usual distinct taste, it isn’t good and should be discarded.
  • Carbonation Test: Root beer is not artificially carbonated but contains a significant amount of fizz from its production process. When you do not hear a pop or fizzy sound upon opening your root beer, it signifies that your drink is no longer fresh and may be bad.
  • Color Test: When placed in transparent glass, most root beers have a caramel color from the artificial coloring. If your soft drink has a noticeable color change, it isn’t good, and it is best not to drink it. Also, some residues may be observed at the bottom of the glass if it’s bad.
  • Damaged Can or Bottle: If the drink is past its shelf life and the cans or plastic bottles show deformation or rusting, you should discard the drink.

How Long Does It Take for Root Beer to Expire? 

a&w root beer poured into glasses
How Long Does It Take for Root Beer to Expire?

The shelf-life of root beers, when they typically retain their freshness, is 6 – 9 months after their manufacture date. This is when they are left unopened and stored properly. Storage is best done in the pantry or a refrigerator. If opened, they can last for 2 – 4 days when stored in a refrigerator.

While the quality of soda diminishes after the ‘best before’ date or shelf life, some are still safe to drink for months and, sometimes, years after the ‘best before’ date. Hence, the expiration of the root beer will depend on the storage and the type of drink.

A&W root beer has a shelf life of 39 weeks after the manufacture date. But they taste alright long after the shelf life ends.

Can You Drink Expired Root Beer?

Using the tests above, you can check if the root beer is bad. If it’s not bad, then it’s okay for you to drink. Root beers are still safe to drink after the ‘best before’ date.

What Happens If You Drink Expired Root Beer?

While root beers don’t expire until after a considerable time, drinking expired ones will cause stomach upset, nausea, and vomiting. Check the condition by tasting and observing the color when you suspect it has expired.

How Long Does Canned Root Beer Last?

cans of 1919 root beer soda
How Long Does Canned Root Beer Last?

Stored properly, canned root beer will generally stay at its best for 6 – 9 months after the manufacture date. It is still safe to drink for months after the shelf life ends, depending on its storage.

How Long Does Bottled Root Beer Last?

When unopened, bottled root beer lasts long if stored properly. With a shelf life of 6 – 9 months, it can last up to 1 – 2 years if stored in the pantry or refrigerator.

How Long Does Homemade Root Beer Last?

Homemade root beer can be kept for long periods in the refrigerator or stored securely in a bottle or can. Typically they retain their freshness within 6 – 9 months with proper storage.

Conclusion

It is recommended that you drink your root beer while still having its best quality. However, it does not expire easily. If stored properly, it is safe to drink after its ‘best before’ date or the end of its shelf life.