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How can brewers not get freshness dating?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Ispeakforthetrees, Oct 29, 2012.

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  1. stabbingcontest

    stabbingcontest Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2010 Massachusetts

    things like adding dates to bottles costs a lot of money to get going. it seems like it should be standard by now and the equipment would be readily available and affordable right? well it isnt, especially when so many new breweries buy their equipment used from either failed businesses or ones that have been successful enough to upgrade. when i think about breweries with good bottle dating, first to mind are Stone, DFH, Founders, Southern Tier, Oskar Blues, Victory, Smuttynose..... well established, wildly successful businesses with national or near-national distribution. when i think of breweries i am "frustrated" with for not putting dates on their packaging, it seems to be smaller, young, regional brewers. coincidence?

    every brewer i know is very concerned with freshness of product, its simply not that they "dont get it."
  2. Ispeakforthetrees

    Ispeakforthetrees Aspirant (232) Apr 2, 2012 Colorado

    In this day of modern technology that is a poor excuse. Even a program like Access can be learned within two weeks by someone who is someone computer literate as a way to filter and organize some sort of data. Just not keeping the information is not an excuse any longer. Even ERP software (a more advanced database) can be purchased online and be used in any size company to have even more indepth data storage and compliation at a very minimal cost. How can you even be expected keep your records up to date to pay your taxes as a small business if you can't even successfully track/monitor your inventory? Sounds pretty inefficient to me.

    Although I do agree it is extremely integrate any sort of method at a somewhat minimal cost, a sharpie works great!
  3. MagillaGriller

    MagillaGriller Initiate (0) Aug 20, 2012

    1. They are all aware of it. 2. For some, they believe It builds their brand and at this point in time, they are catering to an informed consumer. 3. For others they obviously have little to no information to support it would sufficiently benefit the bottom line and are primarily servicing a less informed consumer.
  4. stabbingcontest

    stabbingcontest Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2010 Massachusetts

    sharpie = not expensive.

    man hours required to perform task with sharpie = considerably more expensive than said sharpie.

    and with the method of labeling with a sharpie or ink stamp, it is do-able if just the cases themselves are labeled, but then i've seen people get on here and complain that the date is only on the case (such is the case with Green Flash, hehe), not the bottle or six pack, which is what they are seeing in the store. labeling individual six packs would take 4 times as long as just doing the cases, and 24 times as long as stamping/writing on individual bottles, and then you do that to hundreds of pallets a month at 60 cases per pallet...... (i will say that is a made up number, obviously the ammount of pallets that would need to be labeled would depend on the production scale of the brewery, but from what i have seen pallets are 60 cases, this may also differ depending on where and who you are).

    but i agree, i guess it all comes down to what is prioritized by the people in charge.

    edit: just want to say im not trying to argue or defend breweries that dont date their product. i really wish everyone did, and i more often than not pass by products because they dont have a date or have fallen out of date. just trying to say that the issue is more complicated when you are running a business, especially a new, small one.
  5. MaxSpang

    MaxSpang Initiate (0) Jan 28, 2011 Ohio
    Beer Trader

    Jolly Pumpkin slaps a cheap sticker from a home-labeling printer on their bottles. Granted, it's fairly labor intensive and it would be impractical for a huge brewery to do this, but it's a low-cost solution for a smaller brewery.
  6. papat444

    papat444 Initiate (0) Dec 28, 2006 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    There are a lot of variables but the examples i cited are the lower cost end of it. I'm sure there are other less labor intensive yet still affordable alternatives.
  7. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Simple. It cost $$$$$$$ to date the bottle. They lose $$ from the small number of vocal people who wont buy beer because of lack of dating.

  8. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,231) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    I think this is ridiculous.

    BA's generally cellar beers that many consider good for cellaring, i.e. barleywines and 10%+ stouts. We look for dates on bottles that contain beers that are far better very freshly bottled, such as Pale Ales, IPA's, Amber Ales. I wager few of us bother checking the dates on barleywines, and if we do it is to see if it is already shelf aged.

    If your point is that breweries don't date in expectation that folks will cellar their IPA's that is, I repeat, ridiculous. If your point is that brewers see beer consumers in general cellaring beers best not cellared, and that they feel why bother dating, they will probably only put it into the cellar, that also is ridiculous.

    Here is the reason brewers don't date, the one reason, the only reason, as has been stated-

  9. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,231) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    You may have missed reading this, hope you now see how wrong you are about your point.

  10. rlcoffey

    rlcoffey Initiate (0) Apr 20, 2004 Kentucky

    Add to that the difficulty of changing distributors.
  11. MikeWard

    MikeWard Meyvn (1,082) Sep 14, 2011 Pennsylvania

    1) All breweries should put a bottled date on their beers/cans/cases. Clear dates, not complicated codes or black codes on brown bottles that are hard to read. I'm not talking about making it a law, just should be done if they stand behind their product. This would take care of most of the problems. Props to the breweries who already do this.
    2) If the above happened, distributors would be less able, knowingly or unknowingly, to sell out of date beer to bottle shops, etc, and other consumers. They could easily inspected by the distributor and delivery refused, though I doubt breweries delivering out of date beer is much of a problem. Distributors out there, correct me if i'm wrong. .
    3) If the above 2 happened, bottle shops would also in turn be able to refuse deliveries from distributors if they felt the beer was significantly past it's prime. And they could confidently put the product on their shelves. They could also easily monitor these dates, and if they wished, move recently past prime beers to a close out table/shelf.
    4) With simple to read labels, we beer geeks can make an easy decision on which beers to buy, and which to pass up. And if we (I) recently bought an IPA that was clearly marked 2011, that's on us (me).

    So, as you see, I just want it all!
  12. herrburgess

    herrburgess Meyvn (1,028) Nov 4, 2009 South Carolina
    Industry Beer Trader

    What I said is that when the users of consumer advocacy sites like BA don't call breweries out on freshness save for with one or two specific styles, they are more a part of the problem than of the solution. The solution, IMO, is (to borrow a phrase from my favorite US craft brewery) that 99% of beers should be viewed "like bread, and not like wine.... Bread fresh from the oven is the best it’s ever going to get." Until this becomes axiomatic among so-called beer advocates, freshness (and freshness dating, and limiting distribution, and traveling not trading to get the world's best beer, etc., etc.) will remain more of an afterthought than a primary concern.

    I agree. I'm not saying the breweries develop their QC methods with such things in mind, but if they can continue to put out product that not only will sell, but will be positively reviewed on consumer sites like this one, despite a lack of freshness and/or freshness dating, then not only are they saving $$$ on not investing in the necessary equipment, they are also (perhaps inadvertently, but nonetheless) boosting sales.
    cavedave likes this.
  13. stayclean

    stayclean Initiate (0) Mar 17, 2012 Wisconsin

    I think you are vastly overestimating how many people read beer reviews on the internet, for one.
  14. cinghialetwo

    cinghialetwo Initiate (0) Oct 20, 2012

    I'm arguing with an Italian distributor for Italian craft beer. Maturity 30days. The problem is that between the wholesaler purchase spend 15 days. Arrive me after 18/20 days from bottled . Now I have 30 bottles expired ......
  15. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Zealot (501) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    Not only that, I'd guess that number of people on this website represent only a small percentage of craft beer buyers too.
    cavedave likes this.
  16. lester619

    lester619 Devotee (493) Apr 17, 2009 Wisconsin
    Beer Trader

    Not if their beer isn't fresh. There are many reasons why a beer might still be for sale after it's prime, most of them no fault of the brewer. Do you really think anyone wants to have product removed after it's already on a retail shelf ready to be sold?
  17. ablackshear

    ablackshear Initiate (128) Sep 17, 2010 Colorado
    Beer Trader

    I've seen some distributors and/or bottle shops do shady stuff when there is no freshness dating. A couple years ago I was thrilled to see Three Floyd's Broodoo on the shelves a week or so before I thought it was going to be released, brought it home and had a malt bomb with almost no hops to speak of (and confirmed that it was old when the actual release happened because the bottle shape had changed ever so slightly from the previous year). Distributor apparently had some lying around from the previous year, and seeing that the next release was imminent figured they could trick people into buying a year old fresh hop IPA.
  18. rundownhouse

    rundownhouse Initiate (0) Sep 15, 2005 Tennessee

    Oh good, someone with experience adding equipment to a production line. Tell me, how do you use a table saw to add date stamps to a roll of labels 12" in diameter? Something tells me notching the label at the center would require a solution much like the Gordian Knot, which isn't much of a solution at all.

    My point is simply that many small breweries don't have money, and don't care about dating because virtually all of their product is distributed, retailed, and consumed locally. They can't keep up with demand, the beer doesn't sit on the shelf for any appreciable time, and they've got other things on their mind. If the beer is good, they'll grow and expand out of home markets, and that's when they'll have to make the decision between buying a case erector and buying a date stamper/coder. The bigger the distribution, the more important it is for the brewer to stay on top of freshness issues, but then there are also ways of assuring freshness that are more opaque than a stamp on the bottle. I can't fault a brewer for not stamping/coding product when there are so many factors at play.

    I firmly believe that "deceive the consumer" is pretty low on the list of reasons for a brewer not to date their product.
  19. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,231) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    If you don't believe Jim Koch who are you gonna believe? If you can't use a table saw like he describes you probably ought to stay away from all the rest of the automated equipment in a brewery, large or small :wink:

    Re the small brewer who can't keep up with demand- well obviously if there is no stock on shelf, or no shelf, for this small and high sales brewery there is no need to date products whose freeshness is indicated in another way. Obviously we are not talking about these productss, we are talking about the ones on the shelf from breweries who don't sell out immediately..

    As for your assertion the brewer has other things on his mind besides dating bottles, well, I guess we are all trying to change that, aren't we, with our advocacy?
    papat444 likes this.
  20. VncentLIFE

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

    wait were not 100% of every craft brewery's income?

    Dammit, the internets failed me again. time to have another beer.
    Ispeakforthetrees likes this.
  21. kzoobrew

    kzoobrew Initiate (0) May 8, 2006 Michigan

    Lets not make this more than it actually is. The hard facts are we, as consumers, have not given breweries enough of a reason to date their bottles. They don't date them but people will still continue to buy them, where is their incentive? Let's stop blaming the breweries when we enable their poor practicing.

    You want to see change? Talking and complaining about it in a forum will get you nowhere. Stop buying undated beer, that is the only way it changed. If you feel like you still need to complain, take it directly to the brewery. Direct communication is always more effective.
    VncentLIFE, herrburgess and modern like this.
  22. modern

    modern Initiate (0) May 31, 2012 Ohio

    Where do you live that Dreadnaught stays on the shelves long enough to oxidize? I wish they were all dated for peace of mind, but honestly I never have had anything but fresh three floyds, except for the Blackheart I stupidly forgot in the basement.
  23. Ispeakforthetrees

    Ispeakforthetrees Aspirant (232) Apr 2, 2012 Colorado

    I don't feel its a complaint, just a general question to be posed.
    In fact I don't feel like most people on this server are complaining about it, they are just more baffled by it.
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