Julian bottle dating

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by tcman128, May 4, 2015.

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  1. tcman128

    tcman128 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2012 Illinois

    Does anyone have any insight on why a brewery would use a Julian dating system over the conventional way? I picked up a 6-pack of Lagunitas Sucks over the weekend. Here were the bottle dating numbers stamped on the neck...

    092 5 2
    0398 1410

    WTF? It seems goofy, confusing, and a bit frustrating. I'm sure there is a reason.....right? :astonished:
    Badfish, Greywulfken and jrnyc like this.
  2. do_ob

    do_ob Initiate (0) Feb 12, 2015 Kentucky

    If I remember correctly, you want to look at the first 4 numbers. 092 is the day of the year it was bottled, and the 5 indicates 2015. The bottom slew of numbers is the time of day it was bottled.

    But yes, I agree a traditional dating method would be slightly more convienent.
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  3. mwa423

    mwa423 Initiate (0) Nov 7, 2007 Ohio

    The only reason I can think to do this is to hide the age of old beer from consumers, unless it's somehow cheaper to buy a machine that does Julian codes than it is to do a born on/best by date.
  4. papat444

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

    Yep, this is my thinking as well but no one will ever fess up to that.
  5. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Continuous count of days makes it easier to tell the number of days between bottlings and/or last purchase. Re-adopeted for inventory control because back in the day it was easier for computers to track inventory with minimal code. Too expensive and too much built in inertia now for some to make a change over. Once upon a time computing time was more expensive than human time.
    #5 drtth, May 4, 2015
    Last edited: May 4, 2015
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  6. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    If only it were so simple. Lots more going on in the background.
    LeRose likes this.
  7. cherche

    cherche Meyvn (1,046) Mar 27, 2013 Washington

    "/"s are super expensive
  8. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,194) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Premium Trader

    Bottle dating that clearly indicates when the product was produced is a convenience or luxury to customers that brewers surely must recognize by now that it serves as a beacon to their customer as when to buy their product and when to leave it sit like the proverbial cheese. Julian dating, coding, etc.,. is necessary as a QC measure, should they have to recall or investigate a botched batch.

    Not defending one practice over the other, but long as their product still sells, why would they change their process?
  9. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Actually, once upon a time they were. :-)
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  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (873) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    I think the bigger issue, and one that can be easily changed, is breweries that are currently stamping with normal dates, but BEST BY dates, and not bottling dates.
  11. DarkerTheBetter

    DarkerTheBetter Poo-Bah (1,577) Sep 30, 2005 Minnesota

    You shouldn't need a decoder ring to figure out when your beer was made.
  12. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Both dates should be used, then I don't have to figure out which bottling line is used to estimate the shelf life of a beer from the bottled on date alone.
    tcman128 likes this.
  13. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (873) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    Imagine if milk used Julian dating?
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  14. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    One minor difference is that old milk can make you seriously ill. Old beer won't do that to you.
    DarkerTheBetter likes this.
  15. Kadonny

    Kadonny Meyvn (1,315) Sep 5, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Not physically, but old beer makes me mentally sick.
  16. quietdomino

    quietdomino Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2013 Texas

    There is nothing inherently difficult about Julian bottle dating. Round each month to 30 days and it takes about 2 seconds to figure out when a beer was bottled or canned. Plus, it's better to have this than a Best By date where you're really not sure how long the brewery projects that out to.
    Badfish, utopiajane, wspscott and 3 others like this.
  17. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,763) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    The coding system that Anchor uses is really strange!!

  18. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,688) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    I sometimes have a similar reaction. That is one of the reasons I don't buy undated beer, and even take the time, when I find one I wanted to try, to pick something else instead and then send mail to the Brewery explaining why I passed on their case of beer and which of their competetors I chose instead.
    AlpacaAlpaca and AlcahueteJ like this.
  19. MVP09

    MVP09 Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2012 Massachusetts

    Julian dating drives me nuts as well. So does best by dates. Just tell me when you put it in the container. Then as the consumer, I can make a decision to buy or no to buy.
    nc41 and tcman128 like this.
  20. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,364) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    • Only needs 3 digits vs 4 digits
    • Internationally recognized with no confusion between Euro and US dating - Day/Month vs Month/Day
    • Used in numerous large industries, business calendars are routinely marked with the day of the year
    • As noted above, simple to "do the math"
    • Mechanically "easier" - machines and people both find it easier to go from 031 to 032 on Feb. 1st, rather than 0131 to 0201.
    utopiajane, surfcaster, jmw and 17 others like this.
  21. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (873) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

    You know what's even simpler than doing the math? Reading a bottled on date.

    All "kidden" aside....again, thanks for the great input/information.

    Personally, I’ve purchased many hop-forward beers with the simple packaged on/bottled on date solely because I saw the date, and it was within a week or two of bottling.

    If I’m sifting through multiple beers at my local with no specific beer in mind, and I see, “5/1/14” on the neck of a bottle, and “121 5 2 0398 1410” on another, guess which one I’m going to buy?
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  22. HeislerGold

    HeislerGold Initiate (122) Oct 19, 2013 Michigan

    Anchor's code is the worst. It took me a long time to get used to it.
    chrismattlin likes this.
  23. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (3,763) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    You are a better person than I am. I simply just stopped buying Anchor beer since I do not think I should be obligated to carry a 'secret decoder ring' with me to purchase beer.

    The majority of my beer money goes to breweries that use easy to understand dates like 05/04/15.

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  24. HeislerGold

    HeislerGold Initiate (122) Oct 19, 2013 Michigan

    As people have said, the first three digits are the day of the year (001-365) and the fourth digit represents the year. Also I believe it has been mentioned that, in the case of Lagunitas, that "2" after the year indicates where the beer was brewed. 1 = Petaluma, Ca. and 2 = Chicago, Ill.

    I added a Julian date conversion calendar app to my phone to avoid "doing the math."
    KMitch likes this.
  25. HeislerGold

    HeislerGold Initiate (122) Oct 19, 2013 Michigan

    I suppose I can't blame you there.
  26. guinness77

    guinness77 Savant (988) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    I'll take Juilan dating over almost anything else, tbh. At least you know for sure when it was bottled (none of that 'best by' stuff) and, honestly, it's really not that hard to decipher. Ideally, you'd like to see an actual date, but Julian code is a pretty close second, IMO. The fact OP used a Lagunitas bottle as an example is perfect. You ALWAYS know when a Lagunitas bottle was brewed.

    Just to add, it's fairly easy to do the "math." Basically every 30 days is a new month. I'm not beyond counting on my fingers in a store. Don't care who's looking.
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  27. guinness77

    guinness77 Savant (988) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    Wait. You're going to buy the beer 1 year, 3 days old over the beer 3 days old because of coding? :wink:
  28. guinness77

    guinness77 Savant (988) Jan 6, 2014 New York

    That would be friggin' awesome just to cruise past the dairy section and see all the confused "milk maids" going through every single bottle and carton of milk to find that freshest one. Hahaha Man that would drive supermarket dairy mangers crazy.
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  29. beertunes

    beertunes Poo-Bah (5,685) Sep 24, 2007 Washington

    Way back, once upon a time, I worked in some apple processing factories. There were codes stamped onto the jars/cans, with the following format: 091179 A . That jar would have been filled on Sept. 11, 1979, in the first four hours of the day shift. The second half was B, and then night shift was C/D. All the current methods are better, and I find Julian to be the least onerous. I'm in a minority here on BA, but I prefer a brewery to put a "Best By" date on a beer than a bottled on date. The brewers, more than us, know when their beer is going to fall off. One of the few flaws I have with Deschutes, is their habit of putting a "Best After" date on their limited releases. So obnoxious.
    karamchandani likes this.
  30. StartedwithSAM

    StartedwithSAM Devotee (419) Feb 17, 2015 Virginia

    I just use online converting sites. Even though I have read how to read Julian dates. I had to tell two of my beer stores today that their Ballist Point Sculpin was reeeallly old. I never buy IPAs from one of them because they are always 3-6 mos. old, always. It's like they are a dumping place for IPAs that couldn't sell elsewhere...:slight_frown:
    mudbug likes this.
  31. tbaker397

    tbaker397 Initiate (0) Nov 9, 2013 West Virginia

    Just give me a god forsaken bottled on date and I'll be a happy camper. Don't mind regular Julian dating where you have 2 numbers as the year and 3 as the day of the year. However these modified Julians where the first digit is the month, the next 3 the day, and 2 more for the year it just aggravates me.
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  32. bleakies

    bleakies Disciple (344) Apr 11, 2011 Massachusetts

    Disinclination to do the simple math required to decipher a Julian code doesn't speak well of our education standards.

    Also, I prefer a bottled-on to a best-by date too, but I've already decided how long is too long for the beers I buy. People who aren't nerds about beer are probably better served by a best-by date.
    kemoarps, neckbeardahab and beertunes like this.
  33. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Zealot (531) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    hope your not buying a 2014 IPA :wink:
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  34. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Champion (873) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts

  35. Greywulfken

    Greywulfken Poo-Bah (4,373) Aug 25, 2010 New York
    Premium Trader

    Julian dating is easy enough to figure, but that doesn't change that fact that a uniform bottling date format is easily achieved and most preferred by the craft beer crowd.
  36. kerry4porters

    kerry4porters Zealot (531) Dec 31, 2012 Arizona

    Its also sometimes hard to see especially with black in on dark bottles not a fan of that one bit
  37. Manucelly

    Manucelly Initiate (62) Jun 13, 2014 California

  38. tcman128

    tcman128 Initiate (0) Sep 2, 2012 Illinois

    Here is the explanation from Lagunitas this afternoon. While I'm still not a fan of this system, I suppose it makes sense and it was cool of them to reply back to me so quickly...

    "Good question. It was the original dating method that Tony started with, and over time it’s been pretty systematic to keep our dating method regular. Plus with the amount of information we can gather with the digits, it keeps things pretty manageable:

    110 5 1 7420 1620 is read as: April 20th, 2015 at 4:20pm in Petaluma CA…Lots of good stuff there yet unobtrusive or lengthy! Sorry it’s not a better answer than what you’re hoping for, there isn’t any set answer we stick with. A lot of shoulder shrugs and fuzzy answers any time I’ve ever asked someone. I’ve attached the decoder sheet for ya so you can use it to decipher all the cryptic numbering on our bottles."


    Nina Anguiano
    Lagunitas Brewing Company
    Petaluma, Cali & Chicago, Ill
    ryhayes likes this.
  39. thedumbphase

    thedumbphase Initiate (0) Mar 4, 2015 New Jersey

    I like Julian dating and find myself converting random sets of numbers out in the real world (especially license plates) into dates. It keeps my mind sharp for hunting for only the freshest of fresh IIPA's...
    tcman128 likes this.
  40. Giantspace

    Giantspace Defender (678) Dec 22, 2011 Pennsylvania

    You need the decoder ring for their bottles

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