Old IPAs - What to do about this problem?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by joeyjoey104, Aug 4, 2015.

  1. joeyjoey104

    joeyjoey104 Initiate (0) Aug 2, 2014 California

    I have been noticing more and more lately that certain IPAs, such as Ballast Point & Firestone Walker's tend to sit on shelves for a long time. I had a Sculpin recently that was a little more than 2 months old, which isn't that bad, but it didn't taste like the same beer as when it is fresh. (Actually it tasted awful and as Stone has shown, everyone needs to know that an IPA has a shelf life of 35 days - I know that isn't always the case, but that should be a universal rule in the industry now).

    For the life of me, I cannot find any of Firestone's IPAs within a week or two old, they are always two months old... With some local favorites over here like Beachwood and El Segundo doing self-distribution, with an emphasis on freshness, why don't more big breweries do this?

    Am I just the outlier who is annoyed that I can't get a fresh batch of Sculpin a week old? Or is this the case with other craft connoisseurs.
  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,934) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    "For the life of me, I cannot find any of Firestone's IPAs within a week or two old, they are always two months old..."

    I wish that I could find Firestone Walker beer that was two months old. Those beers are much older in my area.

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  3. otispdriftwood

    otispdriftwood Initiate (0) Dec 9, 2011 Colorado

    To answer the OP's question - don't buy old IPAs. Stick to the fresh stuff. You won't turn into a pumpkin if you don't have Sculpin [which by the way is overpriced].
  4. JamesStreet

    JamesStreet Savant (986) May 9, 2013 Louisiana

    I recently was pumped to find a Union Jack that was 5 weeks old, and that's searching from Louisiana all the way up the east coast to Rhode Island.
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  5. BeerGreg

    BeerGreg Disciple (350) May 17, 2013 Illinois

    You honestly expect breweries to abide by IPAs having a 35-day shelf life? Good lord. Do a side-by-side blind taste test sometime of these "old" IPAs.
  6. beerded_drunk

    beerded_drunk Initiate (0) Aug 30, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Thank you.....
  7. gopens44

    gopens44 Poo-Bah (2,350) Aug 9, 2010 Virginia
    Society Trader

    2 months on either one isn't the worst thing that can happen to you within the realm of beer, by far. With them now being offered in cans, that drop off will not be as bad either. But to address your concern in general, I'd have to believe that there's got to be some brewery near you that makes a comparably good IPA that you can growler up on quite routinely. Maybe just take a break from sifting through old beers and stick closer to home if age beyond a week is a major concern.
  8. JohnnyMalts

    JohnnyMalts Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2014 New York

    I have noticed that my local beer store too always has old IPA's on the shelf, such as the Firestone Walker IPA's and even Ithaca Flower Power is always old in my local beer store, which is crazy because we're in the same state. If an IPA is more than three months old I'll skip it, but three months and under is fair game in my opinion. The drop off during that time frame is usually not that much noticeable. With that being said, my local beer store always seems to have fresh grapefruit sculpin. By fresh I usually mean about a month old or younger. The regular sculpin, however, is always around the 2-3 month mark.
    joeyjoey104 likes this.
  9. SRBush1974

    SRBush1974 Initiate (0) Apr 18, 2015 New Jersey

    At least 3 stores I visited looking for decently fresh Double Jack and all had the same, march 2015. Haven't seen anything fresher. I'm not the best with brewing cycles, so maybe they haven't made any since.

    A month or two would be OK for me. But 4+ months is too long for me.
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  10. berto714

    berto714 Initiate (0) Oct 16, 2014 New York

    I was at a local bottle shop the other week and noticed they had Double Trouble on the shelf... that was bottled last summer. This seems to be far more egregious than the couple of months people are mentioning here. It's a shame because I wanted to get it, but once I saw the date I passed. Makes me think twice about shopping there.
  11. KingforaDay

    KingforaDay Crusader (721) Aug 5, 2010 New Jersey

    Old IPA's are not a problem for us the consumer, it's a problem for the brewer (and to some extent the distributor). We can just opt to not buy any beer we deem past it's freshness point, but the Brewer has to figure out how to produce enough beer for distribution to it's markets while not having it sit too long where it ends up being pulled off the shelves. I think all the new breweries popping up are hurting the bigger craft breweries as we know we can always get fresh beer any time we want it. I pass on a lot of 2 month old beers that I would haven't thought twice on buying a few years ago.
  12. ncusatis

    ncusatis Initiate (140) Dec 22, 2014 Wisconsin

    If you have a hankering for fresh Sculpin, maybe make the trip to the brewery (seeing as you're from CA). Support your small breweries that make sure they're selling fresh beer. Otherwise, just keep checking bottling dates and buy fresh stuff.
    joeyjoey104 likes this.
  13. Fargrow

    Fargrow Initiate (0) Feb 7, 2013 Michigan

    My solution has been to mostly just drink IPAs on tap. But I'm always on the lookout for a relatively fresh, refrigerated bottle or can as well.
    Tdizzle likes this.
  14. DelMontiac

    DelMontiac Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2010 Oklahoma

    I so envy folks that can buy at their local brewers for this exact reason. Walking into the Tasty Weasel at Oskar Blues and leaving with cold cans was like a dream, especially for an Oklahoman.

    Most stores don't care enough, but I go to a couple of stores in Kansas that display best by dates on the shelves for beers that are relatively short lived. When it gets down to the wire, the price goes down. They also display dates for beers that have been aged by the store which is really nice - they tend to go up a bit in price. Pretty cool to see five years of Big Foot on the shelf!
    #14 DelMontiac, Aug 4, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  15. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,019) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Don't buy them.

    And 2 month old IPA is not a problem. Sure it's nice to get beer as fresh as possible, but this freshness thing is getting out of control.
  16. BeerForMuscle

    BeerForMuscle Poo-Bah (2,501) Nov 26, 2006 New Jersey

    Who's fault is it that an IPA on the shelf is 3 months old? Either someone is taking a while to deliver it to the store, or not enough people are buying it when it is "fresh".
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  17. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,279) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    Perhaps you don't like Sculpin as much as you thought.
  18. upsbeernut

    upsbeernut Aspirant (277) Sep 22, 2011 Georgia

    Same freaking problem with Stones 2.0 Ruination , bought it 2 weeks after the enjoy by date of 7/15/2015. There was quite a difference , no fruity flavor at all, went right to the alcohol taste and kinda dank aftertaste. Got ripped 12 bucks.
    joeyjoey104 likes this.
  19. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Hmmm, I must have missed something. When and how did they show that?
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  20. Providence

    Providence Crusader (725) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    Step 1: Don't purchase IPAs that are older than you prefer them to be
    Step 2: Purchase IPAs that are as fresh as you prefer them to be instead
    Step 3: Convince other people that shop at the stores you generally shop at not to purchase IPAs that are older than you prefer them to be*
    Step 4: Convince other people that shop at the stores you generally shop at to purchase IPAs that are as fresh as you prefer them to be instead*
    Step 5: Watch IPAs that you don't prefer get replaced by IPAs that you do prefer at the stores you generally shop at*

    *Probably not going to happen
  21. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    I disagree. A two-month-old IPA is a shell of its former self, and it most likely doesn't taste the way that the brewer intended for you to enjoy it. Every brewer hopes that their IPA will fly off the shelves, but there are just too many choices now. Thus, great IPAs rot on store shelves. I don't buy any IPA without a clearly discernible date code. My threshold is 40 days. Past that, and IPAs just taste like an oxidized, hoppy mess; IMO.
    #21 Tdizzle, Aug 4, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
  22. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,853) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    You have to treat this like a whale hunting situation.

    Go out of your way to find the fresh examples and buy them up. Make a polite comment to the owner or management about how you appreciate their fresh product and that you'll be back. And I mean buy all that's available if it's in your budget. Why? There is a good chance that the shelf space will be replaced with fresh stuff too (assuming your distributors aren't lame). Repeat.

    In my opinion, this is the most realistic way to get what you want. Complaining doesn't get you anywhere at most places. With craft beer being more mainstream these days, there will be people who buy up the stale stuff. I'm not excusing the retailers or distributors here, it's just that they have little incentive given how so many people willingly do in fact buy stale beer all the time.
    StartedwithSAM and joeyjoey104 like this.
  23. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,853) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I agree with you. The people who willingly buy the much older stuff are the problem, or I should say a major part of the problem. It removes one of the biggest incentives for retailers and distributors to take the freshness problem seriously.
  24. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    BTW, the snark level on this thread is off the charts. Really childish and unnecessary. The plethora of stale IPAs hanging around on store shelves is a legitimate issue in the craft beer world. What ends up happening is that people who maybe aren't familiar with IPAs are the ones who unknowingly purchase a six-pack of four-month-old Sculpin, Union Jack, etc., and then think it's disgusting. I've seen it happen a million times: I'm at a party, and the gracious host has stocked a cooler full of IPAs that are WAY past their prime. All night, people are drinking these beers and looking at each other wondering why people could possibly like this style of beer so much. It's all I can do to not interject and state that they might enjoy these beers more if they were fresh.
  25. RobertColianni

    RobertColianni Zealot (579) Nov 4, 2008 Pennsylvania

    It's gotten much better since the first cans of Pivo and Easy Jack were released. Myself and a coworker at my previous job approached the situation very aggressively and for almost three months, now, we've seen fresh releases. Not two weeks, mind you, but nothing would still be on the shelves come a month and a half after canning. I honestly think that it's two entities in our area- Origlio blowing and customers not finding too much appeal in FW products. Remember that we're an IPA city with great IPA brewers. To purchase something we've had a million times almost never occurs, here. The end result is slow moving products that aren't pushed by the distributor or sales rep tend to cause rollover for the new products that arrive (fresher dates). I can't remember if you were an account buyer or not, but when was the last time Origlio or Jenny ACTUALLY approached anybody about fresh Jack coming in next week or old Jack still sitting? Never.
  26. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,934) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Tom, he is referring to Stone Enjoy By.

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  27. October

    October Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I have the same problem with IPAs at my local. They are rarely fresher than two months. I hate being the guy that reaches back to the 8th row on the shelf to see if that one is any fresher. Spoiler alert: it usually isn't.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,934) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I am not an account buyer. One of my local beer distributors had a Firestone Walker tasting and I went so that I could have a conversation with Jenny. I spoke to her for about 15 minutes. Overall she is a nice individual but every attempt I made at trying to understand the distribution of Firestone Walker beer in SEPA was met with a combination of dirty looks and replies of abba dabba jabba wabba.

    I really do not understand why there is so much old Firestone Walker around but after my discussion with Jenny I simply decided that my beer money will go to other breweries. There is plenty of fresh Victory, Sly Fox, Stoudt’s, etc. beer available for me to buy.

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  29. PatKorn

    PatKorn Initiate (151) Aug 30, 2007 Colorado

    The problem does not lie with the brewery, unless of course they self distribute. The problem lies with the store to a certain degree but almost always it is the distributor. So if you have a complaint bring it up with the store owner/manager/worker and they can bring it up with the distributor. Until we start demanding these changes nothing will change.
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  30. captaincoffee

    captaincoffee Poo-Bah (1,779) Jul 10, 2011 Virginia

    However, we then have to expect a much reduced selection of beer at our favorite stores. It seems everyone wants their store to carry every far-flung brewery that distributes to the area so they constantly can try new things, but having lots of choices means some beer will sit for a while. The only way to ensure fresh beer is available is for the store to order the bare minimum of what they think might sell until the next distro. Tough call for the retailer that wants to be THE beer store in an area.
  31. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York

    As a retail manager that strives and tries real hard to only stock fresh IPA; It is literally impossible without dealing only with IPA's that self distribute. Rarely, if ever, Do I get an IPA that is less than at least 2-3 weeks old. It gets real frustrating when people comment that an IPA isn't hyper fresh and don't buy it or even worse tell another customer not to if they happen to have it with them.
    I make it a point to only order a very small amount of IPA's to make sure I cycle through them as soon as possible but it does nothing more than harm if a customer just leaves it on the shelf because it isn't a week old.

    And seriously my fellow New Yorkers, Do you ever expect to see Union Jack or Sculpin fresh as something from Two Roads or Sixpoint or any of the other not-across-country locations? Don't complain to me like I ship the stuff. :confused:
  32. charlzm

    charlzm Poo-Bah (2,180) Sep 3, 2007 California

    I find IPAs 6 - 8 weeks old on a regular basis and they still taste fine to me. This includes Union Jack and Sculpin. However, I also see lots of really old IPAs lingering past their dead-by dates on shelves. Last night, I saw an Elysian Space Dust that was bottled in December 2014 just sitting out on a room temp shelf at a local market. Seven months is too old for an IPA. It's a shame, too, as I wanted to try it. Oh, well.
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  33. October

    October Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I'm not from NY but close enough, so help me understand more how the process works: Why should it always take 3+ weeks for these beers to travel across the country? What all is happening in that time frame?
    Kb024 likes this.
  34. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    I am extremely fortunate to live in an area that carries self-distributed IPAs such as Golden Road, El Segundo, and Beachwood Brewing. Also, I live about 80-100 miles from Stone, Ballast Point, Alesmith, Modern Times, etc., which affords me access to very fresh IPAs on occasion. I simply check date codes before purchasing an IPA, and I don't buy any hop-forward beer that isn't coded.
  35. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,019) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    My response to the OP was "don't buy them", so based on what you wrote I'm guessing we don't disagree there.

    No - two month old IPA is not the beer geek ideal. But it's also not a problem either. Like you said - plenty of choices these days. So find something fresher. But if you really must have that FW beer, two months old isn't going to induce the gag reflex (at least it doesn't for me), and personally I think the "shell of its former self" card, when referring to beers that are only 8 or 9 weeks from bottling, is overplayed. A year old IPA = shell of it's former self. Two months = not as fresh as I'd like.
  36. TonyLema1

    TonyLema1 Poo-Bah (1,886) Nov 19, 2008 South Carolina

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  37. Hayden34

    Hayden34 Initiate (0) Aug 10, 2014 Georgia

    I was in a local bottle shop over the weekend, trying to decide which IPA to buy. I picked up a bottle of Two Hearted from a sixer sitting on the shelf (not even in the cooler) and checked the bottled date, Novermber 2014!!!! I ended up buying a sixer of Sweetwater IPA instead...
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  38. ACGypsy

    ACGypsy Initiate (0) Mar 24, 2014 Texas

    I blame the brewers and distributers for overestimating demand for their beer. My friends in the produce business constantly complain to me on how difficult their supply chain is to manage. It is a huge challenge to deal with a perishable product and I really don't believe that liquor/beer distributors have this sort of expertise. Most of their product does not have a 2 month shelf life to the hard core volume consumers. Brewers / Distributors will either need to adapt to this product category or suffer the backlash from retailers sitting on tons of beer they can't sell.

    Seems like FW debuted their cans in Dallas in late March. I happened to be in the Total near my house during the launch Saturday. They had huge displays of the six packs that made an impressive presentation. I bought some Union Jack even though it was already over a month old. It was fine then. But Total still has tons of the same Feb can date last time I was there. And I see the same can date everywhere I see Union Jack in Dallas. It is a real shame because this is a great beer.

    On the other hand, I frequently find fresh Sculpin. And a local brewer, Deep Ellum, does a fantastic job managing their production. I rarely see their IPA on store shelves more than a month old. A brewer may be good at making a delicious beer but running the business takes an entirely different skill set.
  39. BeerGreg

    BeerGreg Disciple (350) May 17, 2013 Illinois

    I've also found that a majority of people I've introduced to IPAs usually respond with "I don't know how you drink that crap." So, I would think that these same people would enjoy an outdated IPA more than a fresh one. The hops and bitterness seem to be what chases them away. And I felt the snark was warranted, given the absurdity of the OP's thoughts.

    And you wanna see old IPAs? I know a place here that still has Bear Republic, who hasn't distributed to IL in nearly two years. 750-day old Racer 5, anyone?
  40. October

    October Initiate (0) Jul 10, 2015 Pennsylvania

    I get that argument but I think, as someone mentioned above, the customers who buy stale beer are equally to blame. I like the idea of comparing it to some other perishable product. Let's say milk. You don't see expired milk sitting on shelves, because nobody would buy that. But there will always be people who buy beer that is several months old.