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How Long Will Your Leftover Beer Last?

NEW YORK ( MainStreet) -- Maybe nobody came to your big St. Patrick's Day party. Maybe they did show up, but everyone brought their own beer. Or maybe you simply overestimated how much beer you were going to need.

Either way, you woke up on Sunday to find a fridge still bursting with it.

If you managed to come through St. Patrick's Day with unopened beers, you may be wondering if you have a drinking deadline.

There are a few solutions to this problem (if you could really even call it that). You could start giving away six-packs to friends, family and random strangers. You could throw another party.

Or you could simply drink it all yourself, which may be the easiest course of action. But how long do you have before it starts to go bad on you?

The answer depends on a few factors, says Jeff Potter, a food science expert and author of Cooking for Geeks.

First, he notes that bottled beer lasts longer than draft beer found in a keg, on account of bottled (or canned) beer getting pasteurized first to cut down on bacteria. The beer in your keg will probably be good for only a month or two even if it's kept cold, Potter says. As such, you might want to throw a second party fairly quickly to get rid of the extra beer.

If it's bottled beer, it depends largely on the alcohol content. Higher alcohol content obviously means a less hospitable environment for bacteria, so if your fridge is full of high-alcohol beers (those with an alcohol-by-volume north of 7% to 8%), they will keep for a long time. Potter also notes that some people will even age their high-alcohol beers in the same way that they'd age a bottle of wine, sometimes for a year or more.

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