Craft Breweries Not Dating Their Product

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SourLover

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It seems like every time I go beer shopping lately I end up ranting to my fiancé about breweries not dating their product.
When I see dated beers at a store that are 9+ months old I have to assume that some of the non dated cans are also just as old.
I know there are lots of us on this site and collectively we buy a lot of craft beer.
Am I the only one that is bothered by this?
 

Clyde McCoy

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I'm similar, if it's hoppy I'm unlikely to buy unless it's dated

Pretty sure Alpine removed the date from their packaging recently, very annoying
 

PberBob

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Here’s an article with decoder rings for coded dates.

I’m not sure how I feel about the faith-based best-by dates 12 months in the future either.
 

madscientist451

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When I see dated beers at a store that are 9+ months old I have to assume that some of the non dated cans are also just as old.

Am I the only one that is bothered by this?
Yeah I've bought a few beers at a local retailer that tasted somewhat "off" and I checked the date and they were pretty old, so now I look for that when I'm buying odd ball beer. If I can't easily find a date. I just put it back on the shelf. Dusty bottles are another clue to age. I stay away from the high priced 4 packs and stick with items I know turn over relatively fast. One local retailer is pretty small and if he has something good it doesn't last, so I stop in there now and then. I look for seasonal variety packs that I know were recently made.
But I actually go hunting for old beer (at a discount). There are a few retailers in my area that mark down "old" beer to $1 a bottle or can (sometimes 16-24 oz) or sometimes 50% off.
Every now and then I get one that isn't supposed to be a sour beer, but is defiantly somewhat tart, but most commercially packaged beers don't go bad and are perfectly good for years. Recently I found some Scaldis Noel which I would never try for $22/4 pack but at half price and its a 12% beer I took the chance and it was quite good. If the idea of buying old beer bothers you, perhaps stop buying it and brew more at home.
:mug:
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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Here’s an article with decoder rings for coded dates.

I’m not sure how I feel about the faith-based best-by dates 12 months in the future either.

I had seen that article before, and if I need to log onto a site to try and decode your packaging date I'm not buying your beer. If a brewery has the capability to put A10046GG1234 on their product they also have the ability to put 12/24/21 on their product. I understand that a simple date probably doesn't suffice for companies the size of Stone or Boston Beer Co. At the end of the day the A10046GG1234 code really isn't for the consumer.
I'm usually not buying I see some "best-by" dates, but not a lot. I actually saw one yesterday and I just put it back. I'd really prefer to know when it was packaged.


I'm similar, if it's hoppy I'm unlikely to buy unless it's dated

I agree 100%. I have actually stopped buying anything that doesn't have a date.
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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But I actually go hunting for old beer (at a discount). There are a few retailers in my area that mark down "old" beer to $1 a bottle or can (sometimes 16-24 oz) or sometimes 50% off.

I'm fortunate to have quite a few choices as to where to go, and I've yet to see any of them mark down old beer. I often wondered why they don't do that, especially when I see NEIPA's that are 9 months old and on some occasions not even refrigerated. Some of these "craft beer cases" that I walk into I'd pull half the beer out and discount it, but I'm pretty sure my expectations are too high.

I stay away from the high priced 4 packs and stick with items I know turn over relatively fast.

The four packs are what I am usually looking for, and I definitely have a price limit on what I am looking for. I just find it frustrating to look at a $24.00 four pack and not be able to tell when it was packaged. Unfortunately even if the store received it yesterday it doesn't mean that it was packaged recently. I am fortunate to have some pretty good breweries nearby that I can get fresh beer from. Some of those have no distribution, yet still can somehow manage to get a date on their product.

If the idea of buying old beer bothers you, perhaps stop buying it and brew more at home.

That is always an option, but I really enjoy trying a lot of different beers from different breweries.
 

MaxStout

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I haven't encountered a brewery that didn't put a date on cans, though obviously, there are exceptions. I'd rather have a package date than a best-by, as the brewery has no control over what happens once the beer goes out the door. I don't get why any brewery would leave it off, other than laziness, or not wanting to cull product that's been on the shelf too long and lose money on it. Not all breweries rotate stock fast enough.

A vendor saying "can't do" is just another way of saying "we don't want to bad enough." If a bigger brewery has the ability to print coded labels they have the ability to add a Julian date. Food companies can print dates on potato chips or canned beans; breweries can put dates on beer. If I'm paying $12-$15 for a 4-pack or crowler, they can ensure I'm getting fresh. It ain't rocket surgery.

Most breweries I go to are small and they just write the date with a sharpie. Most times when I pick up a crowler, it was packaged a few days ago or less. I don't think I've ever bought any more than a week old.
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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I haven't encountered a brewery that didn't put a date on cans, though obviously, there are exceptions.

If I'm paying $12-$15 for a 4-pack...

I'm assuming Twin Cities in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and if you are seeing a lot of dated cans you are doing better than we are out here in Southern California. At the various stores I go to I'm guessing 60% aren't dated. A lot of these are beers throughout California and also some from the Pacific Northwest. I do a lot of picking it up, searching for the date, and putting it back on the shelf when I'm looking.

I wish we had $12-$15 for a 4 pack here. I'm seeing the average price of craft beer four packs at around $20.00, and lately I've seen slushy type beers and double and triple IPA's over $30.00 a 4 pack, which is just getting stupid.
 

Knightshade

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I'm in this camp too and am one of those people turning 4/6 packs upside down at the store looking for the packaging date.

Oddly enough..what got me into this was purchasing a favorite NEIPA at the time and it not tasting quite right. Had another one...yep, same. Thinking it was really weird and completely unexpected I started to wonder if they had a "Best By" date or something similar and lo and behold, this sucker was 9 months old. Fast forward about 2 months later, and I had it at the source. So flipping good...but ruined me w/that beer. My tolerance is about 30 days for a NEIPA, and between 3-6 months for other light beers, IPA/Kolsch/Lagers, etc., preferably on the lower side.

I'm assuming Twin Cities in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and if you are seeing a lot of dated cans you are doing better than we are out here in Southern California. At the various stores I go to I'm guessing 60% aren't dated. A lot of these are beers throughout California and also some from the Pacific Northwest. I do a lot of picking it up, searching for the date, and putting it back on the shelf when I'm looking.

I wish we had $12-$15 for a 4 pack here. I'm seeing the average price of craft beer four packs at around $20.00, and lately I've seen slushy type beers and double and triple IPA's over $30.00 a 4 pack, which is just getting stupid.

+1000
 

kingmatt

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As an IPA lover, not putting a packaging date (not a best by date) on beer is my biggest pet peeve by far. Like others have said, if it doesn't have a date, I don't buy it...unless it is a seasonal offering that I know has been recently released.

I lose my mind when I see a brewery have the audacity to tell me to "drink fresh" on the can and not provide a packaging date to tell me what "fresh" is.
 

Bilsch

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And even the best by dates keep getting longer without any way to know by just how much. I am seeing imports already on the shelves with dates that are 15-18 months in the future.

Until consumers demand dates and refuse to buy without, then distributors/breweries will have no reason to change their shady practices.
 
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grampamark

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Sometimes, you have to look closely to find a date. This one (“local” in that it’s brewed here in MT) has the “canned on” date on the picture of the can on the outside of the cardboard 4-pack. Same date is on the cans inside.
97221BFF-6881-4BE7-B56F-2DAFFB6A45BD.jpeg
 
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SourLover

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My tolerance is about 30 days for a NEIPA, and between 3-6 months for other light beers, IPA/Kolsch/Lagers, etc., preferably on the lower side.

We are definitely on the same page here. We had some NEIPA's from Pure Project (San Diego) & Green Cheek (Orange County) that were less than a week old that we picked up at the breweries, and what a difference. Lately we have been keeping some Belching Beaver Deftones Phantom Bride IPA in the fridge as kind of a go to staple, and we have been able to get this within 3 weeks of canning from a local Walmart of all places. Kudos to Belching Beaver for dating their cans!

I lose my mind when I see a brewery have the audacity to tell me to "drink fresh" on the can and not provide a packaging date to tell me what "fresh" is.

LOL! What a perfect statement.

And even the best by dates keep getting longer without any way to know by just how much. I am seeing imports already on the shelves with dates that are 15-18 months in the future.

Until consumers demand dates and refuse to buy without, then distributors/breweries will have to reason no change their shady practices.

I saw a best by date on an IPA last night that was about 8 months out. If they put that date on there I would hope they are confident it will make it that long, but I won't by a beer with a best by date anymore, because like you said I have no way of knowing if it might already be 6 months old. This beer was not in a cooler though, and I wonder if they account for that?

It seems like there are a few of us out here that refuse to buy no dated beer, but my guess is that for every one of us there are 100 people that just go into a store and grab something off the shelf without ever looking. I think as homebrewers we have a better perspective that a lot of your average craft beer drinkers.

Sometimes, you have to look closely to find a date. This one (“local” in that it’s brewed here in MT) has the “canned on” date on the picture of the can on the outside of the cardboard 4-pack. Same date is on the cans inside.

Funny you mentioned that. I have seen some of those 4 pack and 6 pack cardboard boxes lately. I bought a fresh hop IPA a few months back that actually had a date on the outside of the box. What an awesome beer that was, and I knew it was only a few weeks old. Without a date I would have never bought it. I looked at a cardboard box 4 pack last night and couldn't find a date anywhere. I'm looking carefully too because usually if I pick it up it means I'm pretty interested in buying it.
 

marc1

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I don't buy that much beer, but if it's something hoppy I am absolutely checking for a packaging date. I've been burned with old stuff before. No packaging date, I won't buy it.

If it's a case of Naturdays, on the other hand, I just grab one :ban:
 
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As long as super hoppy styles are in high demand and nobody finds a solve for short-lived hop aromas, store shelves will continue to be crowded with mediocre IPAs that have gone stale. Several thousand breweries are fighting for a slice of a very finite pie, every label vying for the fleeting attentions of a very easily distracted consumer, both of which congest the supply line and so fresh beer will continue to remain elusive. It's disheartening to try and sort through a shelf full of "me too" IPAs trying to pick out the other styles. Binny's as well as most other specialty retailers here in Chicago sort by region and group by brewery. I would much prefer to browse a shelf of imperial stouts or Belgian strong ales than have to sift through trying to spot them. Naming conventions suck too, sometimes I can't even tell WTF style a beer is without grabbing it and looking at the back. Shameful. I don't care if your artisanal triple-dry hopped ale tastes like lasers and snakes and is as potent as Poseidon's trident, I came here looking for a decent porter. Like STFU and calm down.

Yeah I'm looking at you 3 Floyds.

A ridiculous array of shytty same IPAs and waaaaaay over-rated barrel aged nonsense are all you seem to know how to brew. I feel like they're selling labels to try and suit consumer moods vs. offering a rational range of flavors. Beer quality and uniqueness is a distant second thought. Feeling crapped on by your lousy day job? Here, drink a Space Station Middle Finger. Far too sweet and hoppy to discern any actual flavors, but nevermind that you're too busy feeling angry anyway. Way to cash in on a fad. Don't get me wrong I enjoy a nice 'Dork' Lord from time to time but FFS why do I have to swim up a toilet of marketing BS to get at the beer?
 
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SourLover

SourLover

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As long as super hoppy styles are in high demand and nobody finds a solve for short-lived hop aromas, store shelves will continue to be crowded with mediocre IPAs that have gone stale. Several thousand breweries are fighting for a slice of a very finite pie, every label vying for the fleeting attentions of a very easily distracted consumer, both of which congest the supply line and so fresh beer will continue to remain elusive. It's disheartening to try and sort through a shelf full of "me too" IPAs trying to pick out the other styles. Binny's as well as most other specialty retailers here in Chicago sort by region and group by brewery. I would much prefer to browse a shelf of imperial stouts or Belgian strong ales than have to sift through trying to spot them. Naming conventions suck too, sometimes I can't even tell WTF style a beer is without grabbing it and looking at the back.

A couple of what I would call "chain stores" here locally actually do a pretty decent job of sorting their beers, so if you are looking for a stout you only have to look in that one area. I've also seen some 18 month old beers on their non refrigerated shelves though too. The liquor stores that actually have craft beer cases or craft beer walk in coolers are all pretty much the same. It appears that when the new shipment comes in they just try and find a place for it somewhere in the cooler. Some of these coolers have beers stacked two to three 4 packs high and three 4 packs deep. I often wonder who even attempts to get to what might be behind some of this stuff. I'm 99% confident the workers in these stores aren't rotating their stock. Some of these workers think they know craft beer, but they will also think nothing of recommending a NEIPA that has been on the shelf for almost a year. That NEIPA probably was good when they had it 10 months ago when the distributer gave them a sample can or two. After a handful of unsuccessful shopping attempts at one local place by my office I just stopped going in.
 

MaxStout

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I think some breweries don't have a real handle on how much to package, and with the pandemic, sales traffic can change rapidly. Market projections can be a moving target. It may be that some breweries are packaging way too much at a time and end up with much of it sitting on shelves or in coolers for months. Others may decide not to date code it at all, for whatever reason, most likely to move product that's well past its peak.

This phenomenon isn't limited to craft breweries. I see liquor stores selling beer that's months old. Even winter ales sitting on shelves in mid-summer. I've basically stopped buying anything in bottles in open carriers, as who knows how long that's been sitting under their fluorescent lighting. It's cans or GTFO.

If it doesn't have a date, I don't buy it. Life's too short to buy shiatty beer.
 

Kharnynb

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In the EU, packing date and best before date have to be on the packaging, even with beer where it wouldn't matter(I snagged a bunch of cantillon bottles at the local alco store at a massive discount because "they were going bad".....
 

Ki-ri-n

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If a brewery has the "Independent" craft beer logo, are they to have a date on their product?
I would think that would be part of the requirement to have that moniker on your product, it would need to have a date as well.

And it should be visible on whatever packaging is used. I hate it when the can is dated but it's in a sealed cardboard carrier with no way to see the date on the can.
 

Knightshade

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If a brewery has the "Independent" craft beer logo, are they to have a date on their product?
I would think that would be part of the requirement to have that moniker on your product, it would need to have a date as well.

And it should be visible on whatever packaging is used. I hate it when the can is dated but it's in a sealed cardboard carrier with no way to see the date on the can.

Nope, not a requirement. It is largely based off of annual production (6 million barrels or less) and ownership (Less than 25% ownership by another group/brewery, etc., that is not itself a craft brewer.)
 
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SourLover

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I think some breweries don't have a real handle on how much to package, and with the pandemic, sales traffic can change rapidly. Market projections can be a moving target. It may be that some breweries are packaging way too much at a time and end up with much of it sitting on shelves or in coolers for months. Others may decide not to date code it at all, for whatever reason, most likely to move product that's well past its peak.

Good point. I was wondering the other night if this is the reason some don't date their product. I was also wondering if unsold/extra/over production beer sits in the brewery's warehouse or the distributers. My guess would be the brewery's. If I were a brewery giving pallets of product to a distributer I'd want it into the market immediately, or at least within the time frame that I set forth in a contract. I wouldn't want my distributer controlling the distribution time frame of my product.
I'd like to get a small craft brewery owners perspective on why they date their product, but I'd really love to get a small craft brewery owner's perspective on why they don't date their product, but I'm sure that will never happen. It must be a difficult business decision for a small craft brewery owner to decide whether to put old beer into the market or dump that beer.

If a brewery has the "Independent" craft beer logo, are they to have a date on their product?
I would think that would be part of the requirement to have that moniker on your product, it would need to have a date as well.

Wow, imagine if this were really required. My guess is that the Brewers Association works for their members and not us consumers. Consumers can want it and request it, but if the members don't want it then it is never going to happen.

@ Knightshade I see that you are in So Cal. Any recommendations on places to purchase craft beer that are superior to others?
 

MaxStout

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I'd like to think some of the "no date stamp" crowd are doing it because they honestly think the packaged beer will rotate faster. But I get it that packaging might be a way to use up the bbls of beer that didn't sell at the tap. Nothing wrong with that--if you can sell it quickly enough. But if there's no packaging date, it's a pig in a poke.

One local brewer I have a good rapport with has told me their routine. They can some crowlers and put them in the fridge for sale. When something starts to run low, can some more. And so on, until that beer runs out. Package just enough to anticipate a week or so of sales. But they're fortunate enough that almost all of their beers sell out anyway. They've only been open 3 years but they have a good idea of what sells. Not every brewery hits the mark that well.
 
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