First, check the ABV: if it’s higher than 8%, you generally don’t need to worry about rushing to drink it (more on cellaring beer later!).
Next, check the style. If it’s a sour or a smoked beer, then it falls into the same category as high-alcohol beers. However, if it’s an IPA or another hop-centric beer, like amber lagers, American pale ales, or American strong ales, you’re holding a beer that’ll age quickly (IMPORTANT: this even includes some of those 8+ percenters that fall into these styles!). Herz says these should be consumed fresh because of their hop aromatics, which add to the distinctive flavor of the beer and fade over time.
Lastly, look for pasteurization. Herz points out that most craft breweries in America don't pasteurize their beers, so their shelf-life is shorter than mass-produced lagers, which are pasteurized.