Let’s start with the short answer: no.
When properly stored, unopened seltzer will generally stay at its best quality for nine months after the date on the package when stored in a refrigerator. However, it’s important to note that in a restaurant setting, you should never serve hard seltzer that is past its expiration date.
Key takeaway: knowledge of hard seltzer shelf life is critical to ordering the right amount of product and storing it properly.
Does Hard Seltzer Go Bad? What You Need to Know
The alcohol in hard seltzer acts as a preservative, so it won't spoil in the same way that dairy or fresh food might. Even so, the quality can degrade over time.
As noted above, an unopened can of hard seltzer may last up to nine months past the date on the package, but the optimal flavor is usually within a few months of production. Once opened, it should be consumed as soon as possible to maintain its flavor and carbonation.
Factors such as exposure to heat, light, and air can speed up the process of degradation. With that in mind, it’s advisable to store hard seltzer in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate it once opened.
Tip: Always check the best-by date on the packaging and if the taste or smell seems off, it's best to err on the side of caution and discard it.
Here are five inventory storage tips that can help keep your hard seltzer inventory ready for serving.
1. Keep It Cool
Temperature is a crucial factor in maintaining the quality and taste of your hard seltzer. High temperatures can cause a noticeable change in the flavor profile, often leaving a flat or stale taste.
Think of hard seltzer storage in the same way as wine storage. Just as you wouldn't stash a good bottle of red wine in a hot garage, your hard seltzer deserves the same care. Ideally, you should aim to store your seltzer in a cool environment, preferably in a basement or a pantry away from heat sources like the stove or sunlight.
2. Avoid Light (When Possible)
Did you know that sunlight can be an enemy of your hard seltzer's flavor? Much like beer, hard seltzer can undergo a chemical reaction when exposed to sunlight, altering its intended taste. If you've got a clear storage container, this is particularly important to remember.
Aim to store your hard seltzer in a dark place, much like you would with other types of alcoholic beverages. Cupboards, pantries, or even specialized beverage coolers can provide the darkness necessary to keep your seltzer in top form.
3. Stand It Upright
Hard seltzer, whether it comes in a can or bottle, is best stored upright. This position minimizes the amount of seltzer in contact with the cap or lid, which can potentially affect its taste over a prolonged period.
Imagine cracking open a can or bottle of your favorite hard seltzer only to find it tastes metallic. Whenever possible, rearrange your storage space to allow for upright positioning of your hard seltzers.
4. Sealed Packaging Maintenance
A pack of hard seltzers comes in a sealed package for a reason. This is not just to keep the cans or bottles together; it's also designed to maintain the freshness and quality of the product.
Breaking the seal of a hard seltzer pack before you're ready to start enjoying them can expose the cans or bottles to air and temperature changes, impacting their longevity. For this reason, it's best to leave the packaging intact until you're ready to indulge in your first sip.
5. Chill After Opening
There's nothing like the crisp, cold taste of a fresh hard seltzer on a warm summer day. Maintaining that cool temperature after opening the can or bottle is key.
It's much like a soft drink in this regard. The cooler the temperature, the better the beverage maintains its carbonation and flavor profile. If you've opened a can or bottle and can't finish it in one go, make sure to pop it in the fridge.
Refrigerating your opened hard seltzer slows down the loss of carbonation and helps preserve its fruity, refreshing flavor.
However, keep in mind that hard seltzer is best when consumed soon after opening. After a few days, even with refrigeration, you may start to notice a decrease in its signature fizz and taste.
For the optimal hard seltzer experience, aim to enjoy it shortly after popping that can or bottle open.
Hard Seltzer Expiration: Frequently Asked Questions
It’s common to have questions about the shelf life and longevity of hard seltzer. These are among the most common.
How long does unopened hard seltzer last?
Unopened hard seltzer typically has a shelf life of nine to 12 months. However, for the best flavor, it is recommended to consume it within a few months of the production date.
Does hard seltzer need to be refrigerated?
While unopened hard seltzer does not require refrigeration and can be stored at room temperature, once opened, it should be kept in the fridge to maintain optimal flavor and carbonation.
Can hard seltzer go bad?
While hard seltzer won't spoil in the same way fresh food might due to its alcohol content, its taste and carbonation can degrade over time. Always check the best-by date on the packaging, and if the taste or smell seems off, it's best to discard it. This is something that is included during the production process, which you can read about in “How is Hard Seltzer Made”.
How long can you keep an opened can of hard seltzer?
An opened can of hard seltzer should ideally be consumed within a few days. After this time, the flavor and carbonation may start to decrease. This is one of the similarities you can find with hard seltzer vs beer.
How does storage affect the shelf life of hard seltzer?
Proper storage, including keeping hard seltzer in a cool, dark place, can help extend its shelf life. Exposure to heat, light, and air can accelerate the degradation of hard seltzer.
Don’t Let Your Hard Seltzer Inventory Go Bad
In many ways, your restaurant profit margin is dependent on your beverage inventory. Should you lose hard seltzer because it goes bad, it’ll drag down your profits. Not to mention the fact that it could also hurt customer retention if you serve expired products.
Technology can go a long way in ensuring that you always have hard seltzer in stock that’s ready to serve.
With the help of these platforms, you’ll always know what to order and when to order — and that’ll help you run a more efficient business.