The Brilliant Beer Co.
-Choosing a Beer-
If you are in a Pub, you should be able to ask for “a taste before you buy”, if you like the beer then you'll be expected to buy a Pint or ½ Pint.
Generally, most Pubs keep their beers well at the correct dispense temperature, particularly those that are accredited through Cask Marque.
Look out for the Cask Marque Logo and for more detail check out http://cask-marque.co.uk/
If your Pint is not alright – it is served at the incorrect temperature, is cloudy or does not taste right, return it and ask for another beer. That is your right under the Consumers Act.
If you are buying a beer to sample at home the choice is more difficult. You will generally have a choice between bottle and can products. I would always opt for the bottle.
A great way to help predict what a beer may be like, is to choose a particular beer style. For a list of beer styles and their associated characteristics please take a look at the beer styles section of this web site.
Beer like any other food product has an optimum shelf life and does not improve in quality after packaging (this applies to all beer styles unless they have live yeast in the bottle). From food safety point of view beer does not support any pathenogenic organisms so even when it exceeds its best before date it is unlikely to do you any harm. It just doesn't taste as good.
The general rule is consume beers as fresh as possible and certainly within three months of its package date.