Beer Store Freshness

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by shamrock071521, Feb 27, 2013.


What's your preference at a beer store?

  1. I only want fresh beer in the store!

    27 vote(s)
  2. If they're marked down, I'd buy 'out of season' beers (e.g. Oktoberfest in January)

    59 vote(s)
  3. I wouldn't buy a marked down 'old' beer, but I'd be glad they were separated from the fresh beer.

    43 vote(s)
  4. I would think less of the store for having 'old' or 'out of season' beers anywhere on the shelf

    13 vote(s)
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  1. shamrock071521

    shamrock071521 Initiate (0) Aug 23, 2012 Michigan

    So there's a few reasons I'm creating this poll.
    1. I work at a beer store and am genuinely curious about this.

    2. For beers that either a) have no date on them or b) have a bottled on date (i.e. not a 'best by' date), it's more or less up to discretion on when to pull them from the shelf.

    3. It is usually HARD to get distributors to take back old beer (not surprising, they're losing money), even when there is a clear 'best by' date. Even harder getting them to take back beer with no dates on them (and a lot of beers still don't have dates).

    4. It is even harder with craft beer, and especially seasonal beers. No problem with distributors taking an out of date 24pk cans of Miller, or a 12pk of Bud longnecks, but it's much more difficult to get them to take back two old six packs of some Oktoberfest or Winter seasonal. Distributors will make you wait until you can get a case worth of THEIR beer that is old and equally priced (easier said than done). This can be a big factor when it comes to stocking new/seasonal beers.

    5. My personal opinion, I've had several beers that were past their date that I thought tasted pretty good. Then again, I've had beers well within their 'best by' date that I thought weren't so good. So I think as long as the person buying it is made aware of the age of the beer, and that the store charges less for beer that is past its date (and mark down beer that is old but not dated), everyone should win.

    Thoughts and opinions BAs?
  2. owen49

    owen49 Initiate (150) Jun 13, 2009 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    I'm a stickler for beer store freshness. I only shop in stores that were built that day.
  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    If your distributors are giving you a hard time replacing/crediting old beer (hardly a unique situation, sadly) wouldn't it be better to complain to the breweries rather than on what is primarily a "consumer" website?

    The reason AB and MC houses are quick to pull old stock of their flagship breweries is because those companies have the power to punish the distributors. If the craft brewers are unaware that their contracted distributors are ignoring their beers' pull dates or suggested shelf life period, how can the situation ever be improved? The breweries, at least, have some economic relationship with the distributors (unbalanced as it may often be), beer drinkers don't.
    JoeyBeerBelly and Bitterbill like this.
  4. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    All I want is the old stock marked down....people will buy the stuff if you progressively mark it down. I bought a can of Deviant Dales on a table with around a dozen that was 8+ months old simply because it was a dollar and I was curious. I tried it and actually enjoyed it and I went back a week later to get the rest and they were gone.
    AnnArborJoe likes this.
  5. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,766) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    I'd generally agree with you, but, having actually been in the position to contact breweries about old stock, I can say that the situation is highly variable. Many breweries either ignored me or showed no signs of having ever heard from me (this includes other issues, not just old stock and bottling codes), others were receptive and active in fixing the problem, and others acted to a degree, but then slid back into insouciance on fairly short order. It seems like if a retailer wants to keep things in order, they have to harp on both distributors and breweries nigh constantly, all while tending to their normal retail duties.

    From my experience, sadly, most breweries and distributors either don't care at all or only care marginally for any given instance of old stock malingering on shelves. It's gonna take a lot of feedback from a lot of retailers, distributors, and especially consumers before enough links in the chain care enough to get things somehow fixed.
  6. tectactoe

    tectactoe Initiate (0) Mar 20, 2012 Michigan

    I'd buy marked down "old" beer. I guess it depends on what kind, though. I'd buy an Oktoberfest out of season, but I'd probably pass on a year+ old IPA.
  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Yeah, I agree that brewers' reaction and response vary- I don't think we disagree on that. But without contacting the brewer(s) or their regional reps, the OP doesn't know that.

    You don't say if you're a retailer or not, but I imagine (in the best of all worlds....:wink: ) that in some cases a brewer might not respond to a consumer's complaint yet still keeps a record of "old beer" complaints, let their regional rep know and/or takes it up with their local wholesaler.

    I also wonder how most breweries react to hearing that their out of code beer is being sold at a discount, rather than pulled.

    Personally, as far as "fixing" the problem - I think there's just too much beer on the shelves in a lot of regions and retailers. For every "hot" beer that sells out in hours, there are dozens of other labels ("furniture" as Chaz like to call 'em) just sitting in warehouses and at retailers (aka "beer museums"). The whale-chasing geekery might not see it that way, but I do too much date-code reading in stores to see it any other way.
  8. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    All I want is for bottles to be dated. Not "best before", not "fresh until", not "enjoy by." And no complicated coding system that I need to google to know the date. Just a simple line on every bottle that says "BREWED ON MM/DD/YYYY."

    Stores aren't likely to mark down out of date beer, as many folks don't know when beer is even out of date (as the beer is either not dated or they just don't know any better). Stores also aren't likely to have nothing but fresh beer on the shelves at all times. At least if bottles were dated those that were educated enough and cared enough could make informed decisions.

    A man can dream, right?:slight_frown:
    iSTi, CMUbrew, jgluck and 1 other person like this.
  9. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,766) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    I was indeed a retailer at the liquor equivalent of a big-box store. Now, I may have grown overly cynical, but it often seemed like the regional reps, as helpful as they could generally be, have a tendency to act as placators (it's a word now...), nominally addressing whatever issue a particular retailer is having at any given moment, but rarely fully solving the actual problem, especially when old stock is concerned. The same can be said for distro reps, both in terms of the actual account rep and higher-ups in the company (man, those occasions were always so much fun!).

    In the end, it seems as though the concept of a "beer museum" (I really like that term, despite hating the causes and repercussions) is not only an unfortunate consequence of the rapidly expanding beer market and the constant desire of the consumers for something new (as an avowed ticker, I am thoroughly guilty of this), but also looks to actually be supported by the breweries to some degree. Sure, you generally don't wanna see your old product collecting dust on shelves throughout the country, but something tells me they'd rather have their name out their somehow, have their name recognized, even occasionally negatively, than to be out of the market altogether. As such, they don't put as much emphasis on the maintenance of fresh bottles on shelves as they ideally would/could. This would explain the reticence of many breweries to even date their bottles, as this would remove any semblance of plausible deniability regarding freshness. Moreover, the maintenance of a huge selection of brands may give people access to more breweries, but it also reduces the overall sales impact of any individual brewery, leading to more old stock on the shelves, hence the existence of "beer museums". But what consumer base would want to restrict or limit the number of breweries they could potentially have access to if they don't have to? Breweries acknowledge this, as well as their desire to make money off of their craft, and consequently contribute to a nice little feedback loop that perpetuates a system that may actually be detrimental not only to their product but to consumers as well.

    Basically, we're all to blame for the present situation (shocker!), and things are likely to only get worse until a substantial portion of players on all levels actively resist the inertia of the cycle described above. As it is, it seems that only a small handful of breweries and a small vocal minority of consumers are working at it, while the vast majority on all levels either doesn't care or isn't showing that they do.

    Again, this is just my overtly cynical take on things based on my particular experiences and even more particular economic paranoia and whatnot.

    Oh, and I'm not entirely sure how breweries feel about their old stock being discounted, but I have had distributors complain about being on discount racks, though something tells me this is just because it signals to them that that particular brand may not see too many more orders at that particular location, rather than a sincere concern regarding old stock in general. That may seem like a strange concept, but I've seen many distributors not care if the beer is past its prime, so long as its ordered from them. The increasing piles I've seen...
    jgluck and jesskidden like this.
  10. DarkDragon999

    DarkDragon999 Aspirant (285) Feb 13, 2013 Rhode Island

    I want fresh but checking for the date on the bottle can be a hassle in the store. If I bring it home and find out its past expiration I do get pissed but it quickly passes and I still drink it. If I check the date in the store and its expired I usually put it back but there are rare exceptions when the deal is too good to pass up.
  11. jglowe77

    jglowe77 Initiate (0) Jan 24, 2011 Massachusetts

    Honestly, it depends on the style of beer. I think less of a store for having a bunch of old IPAs on the shelves; however, I actually like it when there's stouts and porters of a variety of ages.
    Falcone, dianimal and dar482 like this.
  12. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    As a fellow retail warrior in the beer field dealing with out dated beer is a true battle that never ends. It's nigh impossible to stock "only the fresh" beers, Unless you stock all of one case of a product at a time and order every few days/week to keep it there. I've gone down the complain to your sales reps route, which does nothing, I've done the brewery reps, Which does very little (I got a nice tacker out of it!) and I've just settled with being a complete Stalin about checking codes as the beer comes in and constantly checking dates in the store.
    Best and only way I can deal with getting rid of it after/right before the date is the clearance shelf method and keep it away from new product. I don't want that dirty old beer being near my fresh pretty!

    The biggest problem with fresh beer is the warehouses and their lack of caring about the product. The beer geeks that do nothing but chase certain bottles don't help out though, I gotta say. As long as this combination exists I don't a store ever being able to just keep the fresh beer unless like I said, One case at a time.
    jglowe77 likes this.
  13. Wolfhead

    Wolfhead Initiate (167) Sep 1, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    I always look at the date and tend to avoid old stuff but then again the places I buy turn over rapidly. I have found in the last week two different places with stacks of SN Hoptimum and priced at $6.00 a 4 pack, haven't pulled the trigger yet but I might just to try some old hops. One of these places had Dubhe at $4.99 that expired last August, again tempting but they had Sucks so game over.
  14. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,044) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    This is yet another reason why I admire craft breweries whose business model is based limiting distribution (and, as a result, focusing on local brand loyalty instead of national recognition and demand for limited-release one-offs); they can provide a consistently fresh product and have the logistical capabilities -- and willingness/impetus -- to stay on top of such things.
    tjensen3618 and jgluck like this.
  15. BierCellar

    BierCellar Initiate (141) Apr 5, 2012 Maine

    Just to throw in our $.02 as a retailer, we try our hardest to make sure the freshest beer possible is on the shelf by having little to no back stock. What that means is occasionally a beer is out of stock, so my question is would you rather see things that way (occasionally not being able to get the beer you want) in return for a higher chance of it being fresh?
    jgluck likes this.
  16. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    Yes, I personally would rather see something out of stock in return for freshness, but there are probably 5 beer stores within a 10 mile radius of where I live. I can see this being a problem for people who do not have such access though.
  17. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Defender (637) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I voted for separating new and old stock but if I could vote for three, I'd also vote for everything but just having fresh beer in the store. Problem is, since my main style is IPA, I tend not to buy marked down specials of IPAs but will buy other styles that are marked down and aren't supposed to be as hoppy.
  18. BottleCaps80

    BottleCaps80 Defender (606) Jan 12, 2013 Iowa
    Beer Trader

    There was a case of 2012 Bell's Oberon sitting in a shopping cart full of other "discounted" beers/wines at a local liquor store recently and was priced at $12.99. Although I love Oberon and that was an freaking steal at that price, no way I was touching that beer at that age.
  19. UCLABrewN84

    UCLABrewN84 Poo-Bah (12,566) Mar 18, 2010 California

    I'll take some slightly old beers at discount for sure.
  20. nootch23

    nootch23 Aspirant (296) Mar 29, 2012 Massachusetts

    I would buy marked down old beers depending on what beers they were. I wouldn't buy Oktoberfest or a pumpkin beer in january because I wouldn't be in the mood for that flavoring.
  21. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,482) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I don't disagree with most of what you've said, other than the part about "we're all to blame" as it pertains to consumers. Some of us are not tickers. We buy the same sixpacks rather regularly. We don't buy one of each new beer and then leave the others on the shelf (and hopefully someone else buying the rest). The "one and done" buyer is a huge contributor to this problem whereas the buyer with regular & repeat purchases is not.

    Likewise this applies to the those on the wholesale & retail side - they try to react to this demand from the tickers who want to try as many as possible, and they mess it up in a variety of ways. The one that irritates me the most is bringing in an entire portfolio of beers and not just the top sellers. Again, the demand for this response comes from the "one and done" buyers. The goal of having as many beers on the shelf as possible is not a noble one any longer. It has a lot of risk, and the result is so many retailers regularly selling stale beer.
  22. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,482) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    Yes absolutely. My local grocery store sells 5 IPA's and they're frequently out of one. I love it because their stock is almost always very fresh.
  23. StarRaptor

    StarRaptor Initiate (0) Jun 8, 2010 California

  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,545) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
    Premium Member

    “I've just settled with being a complete Stalin about checking codes as the beer comes in and constantly checking dates in the store .Best and only way I can deal with getting rid of it after/right before the date is the clearance shelf method and keep it away from new product. I don't want that dirty old beer being near my fresh pretty!”

    Firstly, I want to thank and applaud you for your efforts!

    Question: how do you manage beers that don’t have a code/date on them? Do you have an inventory sheet which lists information such as the beers brewed on date?

  25. dortenzio1991

    dortenzio1991 Initiate (172) Aug 12, 2011 Connecticut
    Beer Trader

    I had a problem with Stone coming from my distributor with the Enjoy by date being < few days or even alreaqdy past expiration. The sales rep just told me they dont expire!? C'mon the company that is so vigilant about freshness as to make a fuckin beer called Enjoy By doesnt care about freshness? Gimme a break
  26. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    ABSOLUTELY. Particularly with hoppy stuff, I honestly make most of my purchasing decisions based on freshness. An average IPA that was bottled a week ago is going to taste better than a great IPA that was bottled 2 months ago. I would happily take a small rotating stock of super fresh IPA's over having 40 different 6-pack options where the majority of them were way past bottling date.
    Stormfield likes this.
  27. Stormfield

    Stormfield Initiate (171) Feb 21, 2011 Massachusetts

    Hoppy Stuff: demand freshness
    Other Stuff: flexible
  28. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (297) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Unless you're getting quantity discounts there's no reason not to do this. Even the crappiest of POS systems should be able to generate reports with the following info:

    Distributor - Beer Name - Qty on hand - Qty sold in last X days - Last Received

    Obviously you don't want to run out of stuff and miss out on potential sales, but you don't want to pay for (and store) more than you need to get you by until the next load, and with the preceding report I could tell you at a glance whether or not a given beer needs to be ordered. For example, say we get deliveries from "BeerDude Dist." every Friday; so on order day I run a 14 day sales report for their products. I run the report for 2 weeks so that even if something gets mis-picked I should still have enough product on hand to get through to the next delivery.

    Anyway, the report spits out something like this:

    BeerDude - Sierra Nevada Pale 12oz - 12 on hand - 18 sold in last 14 days - Last received 2/15/13
    BeerDude - Sierra Nevada Torpedo 12oz - 6 on hand - 36 sold in last 14 days - Last received 2/22/13
    BeerDude - Sierra Nevada Porter 12oz - 6 on hand - 6 sold in last 14 days - Last received 12/29/12

    Using that info I would order one case of Pale, two cases of Torpedo, and no Porter. I would also take note of the fact that the last case of Porter has taken 8+ weeks to sell through, and I'd consider discontinuing it.

    Just like that, I have just enough beer to get me through a 2 week period (barring any unforeseeable anomalous sales), I don't have excess back stock to deal with, I don't have excess capital tied up in that back stock, and I've identified slow moving products that need to either be discontinued or closed out.

    Admittedly I can't do anything about the beers that aren't dated, but at least I can ensure that we aren't the cause of them sitting around too long.
    shamrock071521 likes this.
  29. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (553) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    To riff on maltmaster420. That's how I recall working with a small retailer. We took stock every week to make sure we know exactly what our holdings were. Find out what was selling, and what was sitting and how to move it and most importantly. Rotate stock and bury anything new far back, so the old stuff is first out. So, Perhaps the store should order more wisely so they aren't prone to sitting on dogs.
  30. madnismo

    madnismo Disciple (323) Jan 30, 2011 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Just stick the price tag over the date or put them in the "vintage section". Yea they're not old, they're vintage. Also jack the price up, because it makes people want it more.
  31. johnnybgoode

    johnnybgoode Initiate (0) May 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    Agree with you 100%! What the heck with Sierra Nevada and their complicated code on their cases and bottles that require me to go to their website to figure out. And Best By DATE, can be anywhere from months to more than a year. Just tell me when it was brewed and let me make the decision on whether it is old and I want to buy it.
  32. johnnybgoode

    johnnybgoode Initiate (0) May 7, 2012 Pennsylvania

    The freshest beer is always at the brewery. Worth the 10-40 minute drive for me to go to Victory, Troegs and Stouts in PA because I know the beer I purchase will be 1 day-4 weeks from bottle date.
  33. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,294) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    You realize these two statements are contradictory? A "bottled on" date won't make it easy for retailers/wholesalers to pull old stock, but a "pull date/best before" will.

    Really? How difficult is a Julian "Day of the year" dating system? I can understand going once to SN's website to learn it, but after that it's pretty simple. And that is only on the bottles now - the 12 packs and cases use standard format DD/MM/YY packaging dates.
    Chaz likes this.
  34. Providence

    Providence Initiate (0) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    I was speaking as if the store owner measured beer freshness as I would and would mark down beer that was old even if it hurt their bottom line. Since the tone of my post was about an ideal situation that was extremely improbable, I went for broke with my wish list!
  35. beercanman

    beercanman Initiate (0) Dec 17, 2012 Ohio

    Just fresh IPAs and I'm good.
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