Old IPAs - What to do about this problem?

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

  1. JStampler

    JStampler Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2013 Pennsylvania

    I could say the same thing about people that come into a thread and post multiple times about what people should and shouldn't say in their replies. I responded to the OP about my opinion of what he said. You've responded to multiple posters about the content of their replies and whether they should have posted it or not. One of us is talking beer, the other is playing Mod.
    OldManMetal, maltmaster420 and rozzom like this.
  2. Onizilla

    Onizilla Initiate (0) Apr 25, 2009 New York

    Because it sits in the distributors warehouse until the previous sells out of course. Which can't cycle out if store's don't order said product because people are boycotting anything that isn't hyper fresh.

    For my non store managing opinion it's simple; I don't buy any packaged IPA that I don't buy at the brewery itself and I am a big fan of the recent trend (Grimm, Hill Farmstead forever, others I'm blanking on) that refuse to package their IPA's and do everything they can in THEIR power to make sure you drink fresh IPA's.
    joeyjoey104 likes this.
  3. Kuaff

    Kuaff Initiate (0) Mar 31, 2013 Alaska

    Only one-week-old IPAs are fresh? Wahahahahahahah...

    A universal shelf-life rule? BWAHAHAHAHA...

    I think you're already spoiled for ever being able to sample one-week-old IPAs.
    And also I think IPA freshness is generally blown way out of proportion in terms of how much it actually changes the imbibing experience.
  4. chrisjws

    chrisjws Initiate (0) Dec 3, 2014 California

    Depends on the IPA as some are worse than others, but I have done a blind taste test comparing fresh Union Jack to 2 month old, fresh Pliny to 2 month old and fresh Racer 5 to 2 month old. I picked out which one was which without even trying hard.

    Saying that 35 day life isn't realistic is fine. If you're going to claim that it doesn't actually make a difference, you're dead wrong.
  5. rozzom

    rozzom Meyvn (1,020) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    2 thoughts:

    1. You're being very active in this thread, and dolling out a solid amount of snark yourself. No big deal - this is the internet after all - but, practice/preach etc eh?

    2. If someone in a bar, in "the real world" announced that two month old IPAs were a problem we all needed to discuss, I would laugh just as loud there too - regardless of the potential risk to my ass. I wouldn't be overly concerned though, as most beer nerds don't generally exude the potential for violence
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  6. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,941) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Below is something I posted previously:

    “I bought a case of Dirtwolf very fresh in February (less than 2 weeks from the bottling date). Over the next 2-3 months I drank that case. That beer noticeably tailed off at 2 months from bottling and by 3 months the hop aroma was greatly diminished.”

    In my 'experiment' my beers were stored cool in my basement.”

    Needless to say there is no objective definition for when a hoppy beer goes ‘bad’ but it has been my consistent experience (I have conducted the fresh case of Dirtwolf ‘experiment’ one more time since the above post) that around 60 days is a ‘turning point’ for this beer.

    Also needless to say but if I had the facilities to store that case of beer cold the timeframes would in all probability be extended for what I stated above. For completeness I should also comment that if I conducted this ‘experiment’ in the summer (e.g., June to Sept.) the timeframes would likely be even shorter; perhaps in that situation I would state that the ‘turning point’ is at 40 days?

    yemenmocha likes this.
  7. jmdrpi

    jmdrpi Poo-Bah (7,290) Dec 11, 2008 Pennsylvania

    You are mixing your usage of the word "fresh". In the first sentence you mean the perceived quality of taste, but then in the second sentence, you mean the quantitative time since brewed.

    The one is subjective, and the other not. Which is why this debate will never end. Everyone has their own personal definition of "fresh".
  8. pnelting

    pnelting Initiate (0) Nov 17, 2014 Texas

    I was excited when Firestone Walker started canning Union Jack since it meant I would get to try it fresh. In March stores in my area received a ton of cans dated mid February. Fast forward to August and those same cans are sitting on the shelves here. It was good while it lasted.
    joeyjoey104 likes this.
  9. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,280) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    I'm honestly not trying to push your buttons, but don't you think it's also possible that "BA is a laughing stock in some craft beer circles" because of comments that a two month old beer turned into something awful? Is there not a bit of severity in this stance?
  10. JayWhitson

    JayWhitson Crusader (795) Feb 25, 2015 Montana

    The best IPA in this state is Tumbleweed and they don't date cans at all. :angry:
  11. JStampler

    JStampler Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2013 Pennsylvania

    Agreed. His response can be relayed to the OP in a similar manner. If the OP walked into a bar or bottle shop and started complaining about IPA's being more than 35 days old he would probably be shown the door rather quickly. It's fine that he has that opinion but it's an opinion that's debated on this site all the time. Isn't that what's great about the internet, that we convey our true opinions without the threat of violence against us?

    Assuming this guy rates beer here or on Untappd or anywhere else, I'm sure he has no problem handing out 1s and 2s to macros or other beers he doesn't like but I highly doubt he would walk up to the head brewer and tell them he drain poured their beer.

    Either way, I too would have no problem laughing at someone that says an IPA is awful because it's two months old. I think that's the comment that got a lot of people coming back with "snarky" comments. Had he said that he feels IPAs start dropping off at 2 months the responses would have been very different. When you start saying IPAs are "awful" at 2 months, you're going to get a reaction.
    #91 JStampler, Aug 4, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
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  12. timc100

    timc100 Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2012 Illinois

    drink local, always fresh no problems and no complaining.
  13. MVP09

    MVP09 Initiate (0) Oct 19, 2012 Massachusetts

    I admit I am a IPA snob. I won't buy anything over a month old. Just my personal preference. Also been hesitant to buy stuff warm on shelf. I know it probably ships warm. Which is interesting as well since the brewery usually puts on the can "keep cold". So many great local breweries, lately i have been purchasing most IPAs from the source. Guaranteed freshness!
  14. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    No apology necessary. For me, 40 days (give or take) has been a window that's worked fairly well. I've had IPAs that are a couple months old that tasted fine; it's just that I'd rather not risk the money or the calories and just buy something that I know will be fresh.
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  15. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

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  16. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    Alright, man. Fair enough.
  17. BeerGreg

    BeerGreg Disciple (350) May 17, 2013 Illinois

    Bed Bath and Beyond in Schaumburg, my friend!
    mychalg9 likes this.
  18. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Crusader (736) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    My general rule is 2 months. I should be able to go to a local liquor store and find an IPA bottled within that timeframe. If I can't, then that store is not worth my time.

    I have no problem going through IPA after IPA checking bottle dates. Sometimes I get strange looks, but who cares.
  19. Ipaupaweallpa

    Ipaupaweallpa Initiate (0) Dec 26, 2014 Alabama

    Same here that beer drops off completely. Like a bad bad bitter taste that lingers not in a good way
  20. upsbeernut

    upsbeernut Aspirant (277) Sep 22, 2011 Georgia

    Exactly all fruitty ness is gone
  21. halo3one

    halo3one Initiate (0) Jun 6, 2014 Georgia

    Is there some kind of recycling program out there? Frat houses perhaps?
    Tdizzle likes this.
  22. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (650) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    It sounds to me like there a bunch of beer freshness fanatics who should be learning how to hombrew.
    joeyjoey104, VTBrewHound and jmdrpi like this.
  23. bubseymour

    bubseymour Poo-Bah (3,196) Oct 30, 2010 Maryland
    Society Trader

    The more expensive beers regardless of how well rated (Sculpin and FW for flagship IPAs) regardless of style don't move in volume compared to cheaper beers on most store shelves. Only where there are higher populations of beer advocates will the higher priced/higher quality beers move off the shelves quickly. Not talking whales or big bottle formats etc....just high quality flagships beers that are frequently stocked is what I'm referring to. Many places in the country they will become shelf turds.
  24. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,941) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I have already put in a 'plug' for homebrewing in this thread.

    The other option for folks who don't want to take the plunge into homebrewing is to purchase fresh hoppy beer from local brewpubs (or breweries with tasting rooms)

  25. BillManley

    BillManley Aspirant (229) Jul 2, 2008 Minnesota

    There are WAY too many variables to consider to apply a blanket 40 day window to IPA freshness. As has been stated ad nauseum in this thread already, storage conditions, bottling equipment, handling and hop varietals and storage all play a major role in how much or how little beer hop aroma fades.

    For most of our hop forward beers, we're comfortable with them being in the market at 100days hop-wise and think they're still "saleable fresh" at 150, although we acknowledge the flavor has begun to fade at that point. We do massive amounts of sensory evaluation at 3 days 5 days 10 days, 30 days, 60 days 90 days, 120 days, 150 days and 200 days. The longer dates are looking at rate of oxidation and hop impact, specifically myrcene levels and trans-2-nonenal. All packaged beer is in a constant state of degradation as soon as it is packaged, but some degrade much quicker than others (this is the shit that keeps brewers up at night, by the way.)
    Personally speaking, I know which breweries I trust from a QC perspective to deliver the kind of quality handling and packaging to preserve hop flavor. What I don't know, (and can really never know) is how the beers are stored. Heat (above 55 degrees F) being the major culprit in rapid staling on the retail side, iron and oxygen on the production side.

    Our sensory panels actually prefer most of our super-hoppy beers with two weeks of age on them (14 days) because at that point, some of the grassy vegetal character of the hops has faded and more of the citrus / tropical character has come into focus, so I'd be pretty disappointed with a two day old Torpedo.

    Buy from a store that keeps small volumes that turn quickly. Buy from a store that refrigerates. Buy beers that come in many batches rather than a single release and you're more likely to find the quality you're looking for. Buy beers in closed 12-packs or 6-packs rather than singles.

  26. pat61

    pat61 Initiate (0) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    The problem begins at the brewery with producing more than demand can handle of certain brands, not putting bottle dates on their beer, and having over optimistic best buy dates. Next comes the distributor who may over purchase certain brands and ends up selling outdated beer to retailers. Some distributors may require retailers to carry more than they can handle of certain brands so the beer sits on the shelf for longer than it should. I think that distributors have a responsibility to check the stock in stores and remove out of date beer. Gussie Busch used to show up unannounced at retailers and distributors and pull the out of date stuff off the shelves and then run the distributor responsible through a meat grinder. Craft brewers can't do that but their distributors should check their stock. Today for most craft brewers once the beer has left the brewery, its like sending your kid to college in Europe - you have no control over what is to happen to them once they get there.

    Retailers need to check what the distributor is putting on their shelves. I went to a Total Wine in Minnesota the week they opened and they had out of date stuff on their shelves. I suspect a distributor was dumping old crap on them. Then there are the retailers who don't check their stock, and finally people like you and me who go to the store, see a special beer and don't bother to look at the date and end up taking home a beer on social security. Almost half a century ago I worked in a small grocery store and every morning Cy the produce manager would go out and check his stock and cull the bad stuff out and throw it in the dumpster.

    We need to be better consumers and point out out of date stuff to the retailer and we need to let brewers know that if they want us to buy their beer, we need to know when they bottled it.
    JackHorzempa likes this.
  27. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania


    Then if that is what he means all that Stone has really shown is that if you develop a really good marketing technique that specifically targets IPA lovers and rotate your distribution from area to area to help insure the old is gone in one area before the new is scheduled to get there, folks will buy it and think that's great. :slight_smile: It might tell us what they think the shelf life of that particular beer is but doesn't help with all the other IPAs out there.
  28. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,941) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania


    Thank you for taking the time to make that thoughtful post!

    I also appreciate you statement of: “Our sensory panels actually prefer most of our super-hoppy beers with two weeks of age on them (14 days) because at that point, some of the grassy vegetal character of the hops has faded and more of the citrus / tropical character has come into focus, so I'd be pretty disappointed with a two day old Torpedo.”

    I have only had the opportunity a handful of times to purchase local hoppy beer just a few days from packaging (e.g., two times for Troegs Nugget Nectar). In every circumstance the beer was more enjoyable to drink with a couple of weeks from the packaging date.

    #108 JackHorzempa, Aug 4, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2015
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  29. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,941) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Yeah it sure doesn't.

    Something I posted previously in this thread:

    "Stone Enjoy by has a best by timeframe of 35 days and by making the best by date part of the beer name (e.g., Enjoy By 09.02.15) they ‘manage’ the distribution/retail aspect; both the distributors and retailers make specific effort to sell this beer by the best by date.

    If only other hoppy beers could be so well managed."

  30. Relik

    Relik Initiate (102) Apr 20, 2011 Canada (NS)

    Brew it yourself. Only way you can make sure its fresh.
    I also suggest picking up your favorite IPA (a few each week) and track how it tastes so you know when its just too old.
  31. Ranbot

    Ranbot Defender (650) Nov 27, 2006 Pennsylvania

    FWIW, this thread from last year covered the topic of beer freshness extensively and respected professional brewers weighed in from Victory, Sierra Nevada, Firestone Walker, and AB-InBev (starting around page 3). It's a good read if you want a better understanding of the technical aspects of beer freshness, packaging, and storage. Buying fresh beer is not as simple as checking a date or only buying cans, as so many around here seem to think.

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  32. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Initiate (0) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    35 days?
    Honestly. If you want to treat this like the 3 pages of responses you have generated. Do good beer a solid.
    Be pro-active with the breweries.
    Both Ballast Point and FSW are big enough that they can tend to these issues.
    Contact them so they can get their sales people out and pulling their out of date product and to also give you the low down on what is real to expect for freshness from their companies QA/QC perspective.
    Smaller breweries who self distribute are able to attend to these problems because they see their product and how it is actually selling in real time when they go into the field. That's easier to do when you are the one sales representative and your brewery is five miles away. It's a whole lot easier to adjust your schedule when you are only brewing a few times a week versus everyday, so smaller breweries who self distribute can adjust their brew schedule accordingly a lot faster than a large multiple state brewer.
    But, again.
    This over stressing on freshness is its own worrying trend.
    rozzom likes this.
  33. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

    You're right; the increasing obsession with IPA freshness is irrational. Maybe we all need to just chill out.
  34. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Initiate (0) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon

    Wanting fresh beer is admirable. Saying an IPA becomes a "malty mess" after 40 days is bordering on lunacy.
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  35. Tdizzle

    Tdizzle Initiate (0) Dec 19, 2006 California

  36. Judgie

    Judgie Aspirant (214) Nov 21, 2012 Indiana

    Where did I go wrong when choosing an occupation? Let me count the ways at 3 days, 5 days, 10 days...
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  37. WillQC4Beer

    WillQC4Beer Initiate (0) May 1, 2014 Vermont

    Tasting fresh, 7 days, 30 and 60 days has shown me that there is a tremendous amount of transformation a beer goes through in its life. I tend to like my IPA's at 7-14 days old but at 30 on up I pick up diminishing hop character and the malt presence and character changes as well.
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  38. PapaGoose03

    PapaGoose03 Poo-Bah (3,018) May 30, 2005 Michigan

    OP, as a solution to your problem I'd like to suggest that you call, email or write a letter to the breweries that have old stuff on your store's shelves and suggest that they expand their distribution footprint to other states, Michigan for example (or should I say a strong suggestion rather than 'example' because our distro kind of sucks), so that your store's inventory will turn over more quickly with its smaller supply. There you go.... problem solved and everyone involved is happy.
  39. VTBrewHound

    VTBrewHound Initiate (0) Jan 5, 2013 Vermont

    Started home brewing and soon found that a juicy, aromatic DIPA is one of the easiest batches to make. The biggest challenge is drinking a little over two cases of it in 2-3 weeks. But, I am up to the task!
  40. WesMantooth

    WesMantooth Poo-Bah (3,111) Jan 8, 2014 Ohio
    Society Trader

    Everyone is entitled to their opinions, and I respect them even if they are different from mine (and therefore obviously wrong:stuck_out_tongue:). However, applying a broad brush to all ipas ("I don't drink anything more than 2 weeks old", "after xx days they are an oxidized mess") I don't understand. I completely agree that some great beers taste like crap after a few weeks, but in my experience there are far more that are just as good for months (if brewed and stored properly).

    I have experienced the freshness factor myself quite a bit. Off the top of my head, Sculpin, Jai Alai, and Zombie Dust are a few hoppy beers that I think deteriorate fairly quick. So I am a believer, not a hater. However, I do think that we all misinterpret pallate change more than we realize. It could be another beer we have had recently, the food we ate, the food we didnt eat, fatigue, anticipation, allergies, colds, or variations in the batch from smaller breweries.

    Not trying to educate anyone who has been drinking beer longer than me. Just my opinion. I feel there are plenty of 2 month old 6 packs in coolers that are just fine and end up in my fridge. I guess get rid of me is an answer to your question. Get in line:slight_smile: