St. Bernardus Date question

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by PGD120, Jan 20, 2015.

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  1. PGD120

    PGD120 Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2015 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    Before I begin, Id like to apologize if this seems like a dumb question. I'm recently 21, and just starting out.
    I picked up a bottle of St. Bernardus Abt. 12 recently, and the date on the top of the cap. (Its the 750ml Cork/cage bottle), is really hard to read because of the position. What I could make out though was that it said 2013 on it. I was under the impression that St Bernardus put the best by date there, and that was 5 years post bottling. That would make this beer 7 years old. I guess its possible, but i bought it from a relatively busy shop, so it just seems unlikely to me. Am i just confused here. also i attached a picture of the date, if anyone has any input on what it fully reads. sorry again if this is a dumb question. Thanks
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  2. jroberts8811

    jroberts8811 Disciple (344) Jan 19, 2013 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    On a recent trip to Watou, a tour guide at the brewery mentioned a patron that brought in a case of empties each month and then purchases a new case. The empty cases are always ~10 years old.

    Safe to say you're ok with a 2013 bottle. Some may say that's a "find".
     
  3. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (4,769) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota
    Premium Member

    There is no such thing as a stupid question. Can you read the bottom number? It looks like it is 4 4 and then smeared - if it looks anything like an 18 then your beer is still within the range. Sometimes European beers take a while to get here - they can sometimes spend a couple years in a European warehouse before they make it here and then more time in US warehouses. Some specialty shops buy a huge order and then sell the results over several years. I have found some Belgian Ales that are old enough to be in the third grade if they were human in specialty shops and they are not necessarily the kinds that you would want to age. Some exporters make their distributors buy huge amounts which leads to old beer eventually and some distributors do the same to their retailers. I spent one weekend here running around trying to find a bottle of Uerige less than 2 years old - no luck.

    All that said, I have found that bottles of Chimay and St. Bernardus tend to age well if handled properly and are still decent after their best by date. My bottles of Westmalle Tripel, on the other hand went down the drain after 4 years.
     
  4. Beer-Revelry

    Beer-Revelry Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2015 Texas

    Hello and welcome to the craft beer movement! You may not know this yet, but, much like whiskies and wines, a LOT of beers actually get better and are much more sought after with age on them! What you're holding is in the style of a Belgian Quad, which falls under the category of better with age, so don't worry! I recommend getting yourself a box or trunk and keeping it somewhere relatively cool, such as a closet, garage or basement and try out aging your own beers! (I keep a footlocker in my closet). TYPICALLY, the rule of thumb as to what you can cellar are beers at or above 8% ABV and in the style of:

    Some stouts
    Imperial stouts
    Barleywines
    Belgian Quads
    Belgian dark ales

    Some styles you mostly do NOT want to age

    Pilsners
    IPAs
    Imperial IPAs
    Pale ales
    Pretty much anything not listed above!

    HOWEVER, there are sometimes beers that bend the rules, such as Dogfish Head's Burton Baton or 120 Minute, both are IPA's that actually age well. There are also some beers that you would think could age, but cant, like Left Hand Wake Up Dead Nitro or Stone Xocoveza, because they have extra added qualities that could fade with aging. Typically the first thing that goes with age is hoppiness, which is why aging a beer that mostly relies on hop flavor, like an IPA or a pale ale is detrimental. When in doubt, search on google or go with the brewer's recommendation!

    But just to reiterate, your Abt 12 is just fine and if it really does have that much age on it then you've got something quite special I'd imagine!
     
    TonyLema1 likes this.
  5. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (4,769) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota
    Premium Member

    The St. Bernardus format is DD MM YY and the date is five years from bottling - it is probably the second date on the bottle.
     
    TonyLema1 likes this.
  6. PGD120

    PGD120 Initiate (0) Jan 20, 2015 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    i actually have a general understanding about cellaring from family and friends who do it, but always nice to learn more. i was really concerned that maybe if it was old that it had been exposed to too much light/ weird temps in the store or whereever. . eventually id like to build up a decent collection.

    Thanks for the help guys i really appreciate it. great site
     
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