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Is it legal to sell beer past it's "sell by" date?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by SteelCity75, Feb 7, 2013.

  1. I recently went into our local liquor store (which I had never looked for beer in), just to see what kind of beer selection they had. At first I was expecting only BMC, but was happy to find Sierra Nevada, Samuel Smith and Samuel Adams, among others. I was considering getting a beer there, but then I realized something on a few of the bottles. The Samuel Adams Boston Lager was dusty and said "Drink by Jun 2012". There was also a bottle of Samuel Adams Oktoberfest that said "Drink by Feb 2012" Along with that, all of the Rogue bottles were extremely dusty, although I couldn't see if there was a "drink by" date on them or where to find it.

    Is this legal? They sell Samuel Smith's Organic Chocolate Stout which I've been excited to try but unable to find around me, but now I'm worried that I'll end up getting something that should've been drank months, possibly years ago.
  2. emannths

    emannths Savant (445) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    mcrago likes this.
  3. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Advocate (730) Colorado Dec 9, 2011 Beer Trader

    All I can say is that if it isn't, there's alot of beer criminals out there. I suggest staying away from that store.
    Edit: I just check where you are from. From what I have gleaned from these posts, in your location you may be shit out of luck as far as stores go.
  4. Northlax3

    Northlax3 Savant (345) New Jersey Aug 19, 2012 Beer Trader

    i would assume the sam smiths would last a while. organic and a stout.

    But otherwise, yes it is legal. Unfortunately. They are guidelines, not rules.
  5. stonermouse

    stonermouse Savant (485) Massachusetts Aug 16, 2006 Verified

    Legal, but bad juju.
  6. papat444

    papat444 Poobah (1,640) Quebec (Canada) Dec 28, 2006 Beer Trader

    A recurring theme in many beers stores. I don't think it's illegal but it is wrong.

    That's only been out a few months so i would grab that for sure.
  7. TheBeerAlmanac

    TheBeerAlmanac Poobah (1,030) Kentucky Mar 3, 2011 Beer Trader

    There is a chance it will ferment if you do.
  8. Steimie

    Steimie Advocate (590) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    Yes. It's also legal to sell beers prior to their "best after" dates.
    JulianB and dachshunddude86 like this.
  9. Ri0

    Ri0 Poobah (1,155) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    Oh yes, just like it is illegal to drive over the speed limit.
  10. That is just so extremely lame. I feel bad for anyone that goes in thinking "Hey, I've never had anything but BMC, maybe I'll try something new! I've seen Samuel Adams commercials!" then grabs some of that stuff which could possibly taste terrible now, and be turned off from experimenting with new beers again.
    jrnyc likes this.
  11. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Champion (805) North Carolina Feb 16, 2011 Verified

    Then selling aged bottles would be illegal.
    HipsterBrewfus likes this.
  12. OddNotion

    OddNotion Advocate (635) New Jersey Nov 1, 2009 Beer Trader

    Best by dates are arbitrarily set by the brewer based on their own opinion. The beer may taste worse but it wont make you sick.
  13. Steimie

    Steimie Advocate (590) Michigan Jan 7, 2012

    6 month old Boston Lager > Fresh Bud Light
  14. Ri0

    Ri0 Poobah (1,155) Wisconsin Jul 1, 2012 Beer Trader

    HipsterBrewfus likes this.
  15. Highbrow

    Highbrow Advocate (665) California Jan 7, 2011 Beer Trader

    the inverse response:

    is it legal to be dense enough to buy beer past it's sell by date? to me, both questions kinda assume there's something wrong on purpose. also FWIW some people actually like finding certain beers past the suggested date. i believe some lunatics even refer to it as something folks describe as "aged"?
  16. Think of it as you owned a bottle shop or beer store...
    Your selection is huge and you have a ton of beer to choose from. You buy case after case of awesome IPA's and other beer that does not work well with age. With so much selection some of your items get overlooked and you run past the date. Do you just keep taking loss on out of date bottles and throw them in the dumpster out back? Would this loss not eventually catch up with your numbers at the end of the day? Or, should you let it stay on the shelf and let someone purchase it hoping that they don't taste any off flavors and continue to shop at the store?
    This is such a tough topic, especially as a beer manager and we suffer with it everyday. Our distributor who deals with most of our craft selection doesn't check their dates and swap things out. It's pretty much, you buy, you sell it. If it goes out of date, you can sell it and you take a hit.
    Also, just a little side note. These best by dates are subjective. The brewery says this beer taste best before this date. I have tasted old IPA's that are weeks to months past date and while not as good and fresh tasting as before they still taste fine. I have also tasted some that were god awful. To shorten this up a little...Yes, it is legal.
    albertq17 and MisterGrizz like this.
  17. mdomask

    mdomask Savant (405) Illinois May 27, 2012 Beer Trader


    Freshness dating is not federally mandated in any way (except on infant formula) by the FDA. It is a purely voluntary process by the food industry. This would probably fall into ATF jurisdiction, anyhow.

    And the dates on beers are suggestions, too. One day doesn't make a difference on a stout, and we all know that hours matter on Pliny/Heady ;)

    I place the blame for this squarely on the distribution rep for these brands. They should be working with the shop to ensure fresh product.
  18. CyPotter

    CyPotter Aficionado (200) Colorado Mar 1, 2008 Beer Trader

    Even great beer shops have this problem. Chucks in Seattle stocks so many bottles/varieties that I frequently find some of my favorites like Boulevard way past their best by date because they are so rarely bought it appears.
  19. emannths

    emannths Savant (445) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    Ever heard of a clearance sale...?
  20. Assuming you mean Clearance Sale on close dated beer, yes. And then what do you do when it goes out of date. The point is, as a BA, you should know better than to buy out dated beer.
  21. krl2112

    krl2112 Advocate (680) Illinois Nov 10, 2012 Beer Trader

    Yes it's legal. I found a GI Demolition 2 months ago which is over a year past and it was great. Take a chance.
  22. emannths

    emannths Savant (445) Massachusetts Sep 21, 2007

    I'd just keep dropping the price till it's gone. I think it's ok to sell out-of-spec beer so long as the consumer is aware (e.g., have a separate "old-and-cheap beer" section).
  23. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Advocate (730) Colorado Dec 9, 2011 Beer Trader

    And although it costs plenty to have enough refrigeration to keep certain beers fresh, lo and behold it actually works.
  24. BoneyardBrewer

    BoneyardBrewer Savant (385) Michigan Apr 24, 2005 Verified

    the Chocolate Stout has only been available the last few months. It will be fine.
  25. IdrinkGas

    IdrinkGas Advocate (595) Pennsylvania Feb 25, 2010 Verified

    Lol. Just an FYI. Some reps manage hundreds of stores in several different states.
  26. frazbri

    frazbri Advocate (705) Ohio Oct 29, 2003

    ...except that's illegal in many states. (state minimum beer pricing)
  27. tx_beer_man

    tx_beer_man Savant (380) Texas Jan 22, 2013 Beer Trader

    I got a Stone Lukcy yesterday at a Spec's...Best Buy date was 1/31/13. They gave it to me for $3. Going to enjoy tonight!
  28. mdomask

    mdomask Savant (405) Illinois May 27, 2012 Beer Trader


    When I worked grocery, our outside reps made sure product was fresh and rotated. That went for everything from chips to soda to beer. Their products' reputations were on the line.
  29. SaCkErZ9

    SaCkErZ9 Champion (905) Florida Feb 27, 2005 Beer Trader

    Go to just about any Total Wine and take your pick on outdated beer. Just saw a Clownshoes Eaglefist bottled in 8/11. This is normal for them.
  30. BrewMaven

    BrewMaven Savant (365) New York Apr 5, 2005

    I've seen beers from 2010 at one of my local beverage centers.
  31. nc41

    nc41 Champion (855) North Carolina Sep 25, 2008 Beer Trader

    If it's Abyss your good to go, if not time to find a new bottle shop if your a hop fan and they don't date the bottles.
  32. cwreay90

    cwreay90 Savant (445) Texas Nov 19, 2012

    I guess just go for the things that age well (just to be safe) lol
  33. Not illegal but unethical-
    Shops can send beer back (most of the time) if they stay upon their supply and do it before the "expiration" date expires. A lot of places that get stuck because they just dont keep on top of their inventory.
  34. jmgrub

    jmgrub Savant (475) California Nov 20, 2010

    Illegal as in criminal? Definitely not. Can I imagine a situation where someone could think up a ridiculous civil suit? Yes. Would it succeed? Probably not.
  35. jzeilinger

    jzeilinger Poobah (1,260) Pennsylvania Dec 4, 2004 Beer Trader

    The retailer can sell whatever they want and it's up to the consumer to spin the beer roulette wheel but when there's a blatant "Best By" date, it's pretty black and white. Dust doesn't bother me because it can accumulate pretty quickly, but, in these shops if you know what you are looking for, you can find some gems that have already been aged for you.
  36. Last year I had decided to try Black Butte Porter. I was excited due to the reputation. What I failed to do was check the date... and by God, that drink tasted like if you re-burnt something burnt and mixed it with thin motor oil and then re-burnt it all over again. Overwhelmingly charred. But after a recent retry I now love the beer. So, yes, apparently places think selling old beer is just fine. They don't care about quality, only their bottom line.
  37. Every bottle is equipped with a switching mechanism.It remains inert until the "use by" date and at midnight immediately makes the beer undrinkable and a health hazard.
    Of course , the date on the label is pure guesswork by the brewer who has to balance all manner of variables such as storage conditions and supermarket requirements.
    The date is only advisory but as I've suggested how good the beer is depends on where it's been and how it was kept.
  38. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Advocate (610) Washington Mar 9, 2008 Verified

    And to be clear, I don't think I've ever seen a "sell by" date on a beer. I've seen bottling dates and "best by" dates, but never a "sell by" date. Could be wrong, though. o_O
  39. cavedave

    cavedave Poobah (1,070) New York Mar 12, 2009 Beer Trader

    Save this store for buying your Gueuzes and BSDA's. We have a store around here that has lots of shelf aged goodness for sale.
  40. Darwin553

    Darwin553 Savant (260) Australia Jan 5, 2009

    It is acceptable but it is poor practice - if they do have bottles that are past their use by, they should at least discount them and warn them on the label that they are past their used by date.