Trust the Best By date

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by officerbill, Jun 23, 2019.

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  1. SudsDoctor

    SudsDoctor Defender (672) Nov 23, 2008 New York
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    I'm not sure a blanket policy is appropriate based on one bad experience. For example I recently (6/8) bought some New Belgium Abbey for the Belgian dubbel online tasting here a couple Saturdays ago (6/15). I really wanted to have at least one example that was domestic and that I'd never had before, and the NB was the only one I could find. The shop that carried it was not in my usual rotation and a bit out of my way, so I was disappointed to find that what they had in stock was almost 5 months past it's best by date. But since it was refrigerated, and a style that I thought might hold up better than others, I took a chance and bought it. I'm sure it wasn't the same beer that went into the bottle, but it was certainly drinkable, enjoyable actually, with no unpleasant qualities. That said, I'll still continue to check date codes (when present) and generally pass on beer with no code or close to/past its expiration.
     
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  2. tzieser

    tzieser Meyvn (1,200) Nov 21, 2006 New Jersey
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    Yeah, definitely trust the best by date especially for imported beers, which typically claim their "best by" date is up to a year after packaging.
     
  3. SixpointMikey

    SixpointMikey Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2014 New York

    Indeed you are correct Jack. We code date Jammer at one year because we have tested it extensively and it is stable for well beyond that time. Despite its low ABV, the preservative effects of lactic acid help aid in that stability. Beyond that, it has less volatile flavors than many of our other offerings (especially beers reliant on hop character).
     
  4. Prince_Casual

    Prince_Casual Disciple (356) Nov 3, 2012 District of Columbia
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    I was by a Harris Teeter the other weekend, and ran in to grab a few things. They has $12.99 SNPA canned 12pks,I was thinking they'd be fine since a busy grocery store. Got home and they were 4 months old.

    I think SNPA is pretty hardy so far as pale ales go, but yeah, if I could go back in time, I'd have picked something else. It's very malty and almost no fresh hops, I like Bigfoot but that wasn't what I was trying to buy. Trust no one.
     
  5. BayAreaJoe

    BayAreaJoe Savant (949) Nov 23, 2017 California
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    Same with Sixpoint's Alpenflo, drinking some right now that say Canned 14FEB19 BB14FEB20. I've had fresh ones as well as 10+ month old ones before and it's all good, still like them all the same and more than anything else around in the style.
     
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  6. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Crusader (724) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey
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    I really dislike best by dates, they are very ambiguous and don't account for the environmental conditions the beer goes through during the distribution process which in many cases effects the best by date.

    And best by relative to what? 4 months ago, a year ago? Who knows? Unless you know the duration of time a specific brewer says their beer is fresh then just avoid best by dates!

    Give me a canned on/bottle on date and let me make that executive decision!
     
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  7. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,941) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    I would have taken the other 5 back and asked for a refund, showing that they were clearly past the best by date. Or at the very least, a store credit to purchase a different beer.

    I've had success with this in the past, it was worth a shot.
     
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  8. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    I use imjur and I had help from a very kind BA, and if I can anyone can.
     
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  9. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,941) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Whoops, should have read the entire thread first...

    I still would have taken them back and asked if I could get a store credit for a different six pack in the store (not the Kostrizer obviously). Worth a shot, worst thing they can say is "no".
     
  10. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,941) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    How come Alpenflo (see below) is also a year?

     
  11. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    The best case is for a brewery to use both dates--Bottled on and Best By--since both are flawed.

    Neither dating method takes account of the conditions during distribution so those conditions affect the meaning of the bottled on date just as much as they affect the meaning of a best by date.

    Similarly neither date tells us about the nature of the canning/bottling line. Not all lines are created equal and some package with a longer shelf life than others. (E.g., some bottling lines package with an expected shelf life of approximately 3 months while for others the expected shelf life is 5-6 months.) Also some lines are more subject to human error in their operation. (E.g., poorly maintained mobile canning lines.)

    At least with both dates we have a better shot at buying fresh beer, especially if the brewer uses their experience with canning/bottling conditions and their information about how beers are actually handled during distribution in developing their estimated Best By date.
     
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  12. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (968) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Nah, I knew it was past the best by date when I bought it.
    Besides NYS doesn't allow alcohol to be returned unless it is “spoiled” and unopened beer doesn't (technically) spoil unless it was contaminated at the brewery.
     
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  13. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,223) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    I don't like the enclosed 6packs I'm starting to see a lot of. No dating on them and I know that the cans are. Frustrating.
     
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  14. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (2,200) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
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    Yes I have noticed that too and it somewhat pisses me off. I can't tell you how many times I wanted to break open a cardboard box, or at least cut a hole in the bottom to look at the base of the can.
     
  15. f8met

    f8met Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2014 England

    I guess you won't drink a nicely aged rochefort 10 or westvleteren 12 or a Cantillon. Or see the merits of a 10 year old fullers vintage or 20 year old Thomas hardy ale.

    Some beers need aging to temper down some flavours or develop new ones. Granted full hop beers won't age but there are a lot that will hold up for a year. Maybe buy a beer every couple of months and do a blind tasting to see if you can put them in order.

    I have also seen a 10 year best before on a beer.
     
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  16. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (2,200) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
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    I have later 2 of these in the cellar right now. I think the general gist of this thread is in regards to lagers and hoppy beers. One of the best beers I have had this year was a a Belgian Dark that had Brett added to it (no idea what the BB date was). It was almost 3 years old (had to hide it in the back of my beer fridge so I wouldn't drink it) and had some wonderful things going on in it. Unfortunately during those 3 years, they quit making this beer so will never be able to get it again.
     
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  17. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,941) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    I usually just don't buy it if that's the case. Luckily SOME breweries stamp a date on the box.

    If I recall correctly, I think sometimes I've just ripped open the box to see the date.

    Oh well. Gotta break some eggs if you want to make an omelette and all that....

    I think the 3F beer I bought a couple of weeks ago had a best by date in 2037.

    You age your beers in your fridge, not at cellar temp?
     
  18. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    My local guy will open the box so I can check the date. Don't know if he does that for others but he knows if it isn't out of date I will buy it.
     
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  19. f8met

    f8met Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2014 England

    I guess here in the UK we are less stressed by the freshness of a beer. If you have never had it before, how do you know it is bad?
     
  20. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,803) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    After more than 50 years of drinking beer I'm pretty sure I can spot a bad one irrespective of any lack of familiarity with the brand.
     
  21. drtth

    drtth Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Same way one knows that a bitter on cask has passed its prime or not been cared for properly and so moves on to a different pub.
     
  22. f8met

    f8met Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2014 England

    Well, a beer on cask past its prime smells of vinegar as the acetic acid become prevalent. That will never happen to a bottled beer as it doesn't have the exposure to oxygen.

    If you can tell a bottled beer is bad after 3 months, you are a beer hero. I will pin that medal on your chest.
     
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  23. f8met

    f8met Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2014 England

    Having spent the evening drinking cask beer and the 30 years I have had drinking it, I would say I have have a reasonable amount of knowledge. Admittedly I am 20 years short of some but I think I have a fair idea.
     
  24. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,513) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    But no one (scratch that...) few people are claiming 3 month old beer is "bad" - only that it is no longer fresh. The reputable breweries in the US typically want their beers off the shelves after a period of 3-6 months after packaging because they feel that after that point the beer is likely not in the best condition and they don't want it sold.

    And who are we to argue with the brewer? :grin:
     
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  25. f8met

    f8met Initiate (0) Jun 27, 2014 England

    Then why do they put a 1 year best before on their beer?

    And define fresh. If it is not fresh then it is surely bad? Fresh is,an American disease which seems to be speeding around the world. Never had that problem in Europe until now.

    I have seen 3 months on some hoppy beers here too but it is all finger in the air.
     
  26. donspublic

    donspublic Poo-Bah (2,200) Aug 4, 2014 Texas
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    Well my beer fridge runs between 50 and 55, so not at 38 like a regular fridge. It is either that or it sits on a shelf at 70 degrees
     
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  27. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    When that’s the case I’ve been known to open the pack, can’t help myself. But cheers to breweries like Firestone Walker who put it on the top in clear to see black ink, no stupid codes to decipher, or whoops no date at all.
     
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  28. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Mine too it set itself at 50, but I like to drink them colder, so into the freezer for 10 minutes. I’d prefer them at 35 degrees if I could do that.
     
  29. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,109) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    seems to be mostly european beers with 1 year out best by dates. And the scale doesn't have to go directly from fresh to bad. It most likely goes from fresh through a spectrum of decreasingly bright/increasingly dull phases until finally getting to bad
     
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  30. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    Exactly. A three month old beer most likely isn’t bad, it’s just not as good as it was when it was fresh. Depends on the style too, the more hops the more it shifts in that time period too. I just hate that hop fade point where it seems to turn malty, and you can smell it. I’m super sensitive to this of all things given my uneducated palate.
     
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  31. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,109) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    depends on the packing line too. Seems like a beer that isn't dependent on the flavors of lots of late additions of aroma hops and is packaged on a high end bottling/canning line will be plenty tasty and true to brewer's intent for 6 months or so
     
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  32. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (2,771) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina
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    There’s lots of variables besides age, there’s packaging, light, temp, the beer style itself and technique, the individual hop. But the fact is fresher the beer the less those variables will impact the beer. Beers are only dated out a year for marketing purposes I suppose, you can't really expect a fresh beer canned to be the same as a 6 month old beer even given ideal circumstances. Than add another 6 months to that, or more for Jever. It’s a lot to ask even under ideal circumstances
     
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  33. SSGCujo

    SSGCujo Disciple (340) Jul 12, 2016 Wisconsin

    I am a drinker of good Micros, German and Belgian beers. The dates are more of a guide than a drop dead date. It also matters on the beer style and ABV. The beers with a ABV under 7% tend to get flat or skunky before beers over 7%. The beer style which doesn't seem to hold to this theory is German Kellerbeers, especially Monschof. I've had those beers a year past their dates and the beer still has a good head and taste.
     
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  34. AlcahueteJ

    AlcahueteJ Poo-Bah (1,941) Dec 4, 2004 Massachusetts
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    Over here at least, New England IPAs can lose much of their hop aroma/flavor within a couple months.

    And if I'm paying upwards of $22 per 4 pack, I want that beer at it's peak.

    Imagine paying out the nose for bakery fresh bread that's actually a day or two old.

    Sure it's not so stale that it's too hard to eat, but it sure isn't like it was the day of baking.
     
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  35. SixpointMikey

    SixpointMikey Initiate (0) Jul 8, 2014 New York

    Similar reasoning. We've tested the beer with our team and it is still high quality after 15 months. The style also has lower amounts of volatile flavors (they we do see a decrease is mild sulphur character that can be really pleasant and 'fresh').
     
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