Best by vs. bottle on dates

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by BuckeyeOne, Oct 12, 2012.

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  1. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Zealot (517) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    What are people's thoughts on 'best by' vs. 'bottled on' dates? I can't think of one reason why it would be more beneficial to have a best by vs. a bottled on date. With a bottled on date, I obviously know when my beer was bottled and get to decide for myself what 'best by' means? When a brewer uses a best by date, I need to do a little research to find out if that brewer assigns that date 4-5-6 months beyond their bottling date to find out how old the beer actually is. AFAIK, there is no industry standard on best by dates. So, why would the brewer prefer best by to bottled on dates?

    [I apologize in advance if this has been discussed before. I did a search and couldn't find a thread.]
  2. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,067) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Supporter Beer Trader

    For people like us 'Bottled On' is vastly superior, but we are not the majority of consumers (or retailers, even). I can see why some brewers still use 'Best By', as it avoids confusion at the wholesaler and retailer level, and most brewers seem to be pretty reasonable with it (3-4 months). Either way is better than nothing, that's for sure.
  3. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Zealot (517) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    Mos def.
  4. JamesMN

    JamesMN Initiate (0) Jul 12, 2012 Minnesota

    What's worse is sometimes it doesn't say whether it's a best by or bottled on date. I much prefer bottled on.
  5. airforbes1

    airforbes1 Initiate (0) Oct 27, 2010 California

    I prefer bottled-on dates because they let me use my own standards (factoring in things like refrigeration and style) for how long the bottle might be good for. That said, I agree with TongoRad that either system is better than nothing.
  6. SatlyMalty

    SatlyMalty Initiate (0) Sep 12, 2012 Washington

    I've been seeing more and more bottled on dates. Of course I like this trend. Somehow I don't mind it when Deschutes (maybe others?) puts a best after date on some of their bottles.
  7. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    I like when they print a code with random numbers and letters and you have to go to a website to decipher it, it adds a lot of mystery and makes you feel like a detective at the beer store!

    ...bottled on date is the way to go.
  8. WickedSluggy

    WickedSluggy Devotee (400) Nov 21, 2008 Texas
    Beer Trader

    "Best by" dates are of little value unless you know the brewery's shelf-life formula . If not, the only value is that it enablers you to choose the fresher(est) of two or more lots.
  9. nopucophop

    nopucophop Initiate (0) Mar 6, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    Best buy can be good when you are curious if the beer will age well. If your not sure, then notice a best buy date 10 yrs in the future you have a good idea it should age well. For the most part many want to see a bottle on date.
  10. IceAce

    IceAce Champion (867) Jan 8, 2004 California

    I prefer a 'bottled on' date so I know exactly how old it is.

    'Best by' dates do not:
    • Tell the consumer when it was bottled (or canned)
    • Mean a whole lot unless you know how the beer has been cared for along the way
    A beer which has been properly refrigerated (or at least kept in a cool, dark place) is going to taste much fresher and more flavorful than a beer which has been exposed to sunlight or seen temperatures above 80°F for extended periods of time.
  11. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,251) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Both have their problems and the best solution is to have both.

    With the best by date the brewer is using their educated judgment/experience as to how long the beer will remain tasty after being bottled. And for sure some breweries make it hard to find out the bottled on date so research is involved there.

    With the bottled on date, to make an educated judgment, you have to know the style of the beer, which is pretty easy, but you also need to know something about the bottling and canning line in use at the brewery since that is a big factor in how long the shelf life of the beer will be. Often the only sure way to find out the bottling line in use is to visit the brewery and ask on the spot.

    So for example, some breweries put 3 months on their IPAs and some put 5-6 months on their IPAs. This is, in cases I've been able to check out by brewery visits and other means, a choice dictated by the bottling line since some bottling lines leave more residual oxygen in the bottle than do others. The more oxygen left behind the shorter the shelf life.

    So one reason some brewers prefer 5-6 mos for their IPAs is that it takes longer for their beers to fade or for oxidation to damage the flavors of the beer. But without knowing which type of bottling line is in use there is no way for the customer to accurately estimate the shelf life except by buying batches and tasting them.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  12. kawilliams81

    kawilliams81 Meyvn (1,248) Feb 27, 2009 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Best buy only or Both. If you only tell me this beer is good until 9/10/2014 that really does nothing for me. "When the hell did I get this again?"
  13. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    Bottled/Canned on date would be much more preferable, I'll take care of deciding how long I drink it after that date thanks.
  14. SerialTicker

    SerialTicker Poo-Bah (1,760) Jun 18, 2012 Michigan

    I too like "born on" dates as opposed to "drink by" dates.

    I also agree that it's better to have some info rather than none...
  15. Lare453

    Lare453 Meyvn (1,322) Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    If you have ever had anything from the kernel brewery, they put both on their beers. It's the best beer label in the world because of that.
  16. leedorham

    leedorham Crusader (701) Apr 27, 2006 Washington

    I prefer bottled on. Best by is a guess, albeit an educated one. Bottled on is a fact.
  17. BuckeyeOne

    BuckeyeOne Zealot (517) Mar 9, 2008 Washington

    That's awesome for the dozen people who buy their beers. I kid, I kid. :wink:
  18. Lare453

    Lare453 Meyvn (1,322) Feb 1, 2012 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Their beer is actually really good. Of you are ever in London, get as many as you can. They only brew each recipe once.
  19. tronester

    tronester Meyvn (1,082) Nov 25, 2006 Oklahoma

    I much prefer bottled on dates, but best by dates are certainly better than nothing.
  20. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    I'd also like it to be mandatory to put a funny quip next to the bottling/canning date Oscar Blues style. I like laughing.
    jzeilinger likes this.
  21. VncentLIFE

    VncentLIFE Meyvn (1,417) Feb 16, 2011 North Carolina
    Beer Trader

    Bottle dates would be fantastic. I hate best by dates cuz you gotta go check how long between the best by and bottling.
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