What's your work around for Best By Dates when buying IPAs?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by DEdesings57, Nov 10, 2021.

  1. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Defender (687) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey

    As we all know best by dates don't really mean a damn thing and can be chucked up to be ever more ambiguous then double dry hopped on beer labels :wink:. But there are still plenty of great beers that use best buy dates.

    If you want to make a purchase on a beer with a best by date, how do you go about figuring out more or less when it was bottled?

    I will usually check if it's a season, or a new release and if not i'll check on Instagram to see the last post of the beer in which the date will tell me when it was bottled give or take few days.

    In the past I used to use this fresh beer website but not sure what it was called and if it still apples today.

    You guys ?
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  2. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (121) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey

    If it's a month or more before the best buy date I'll buy the beer.
  3. jonphisher

    jonphisher Defender (672) Aug 9, 2015 New Jersey

    Some breweries have the respective shelf life on their site. I’ve also emailed to find out shelf life with success usually.

    But these days I pretty much go the @dennisthreeninefiveone method.
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  4. Providence

    Providence Crusader (758) Feb 24, 2010 Rhode Island

    My work around is to never buy IPAs for which I can't easily decipher the bottling date.
  5. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (7,912) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming

    I go with bottled 3 months earlier, whether I am right or not. Depends on the IPA if I buy it or pass if in the same month as best by.
  6. defunksta

    defunksta Meyvn (1,161) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota

    A good discussion and I've posted about this before: https://www.beeradvocate.com/community/threads/brewed-by-date-vs-best-by-date.620284/.

    I think that all brewers should be required to have a brewed-on, canned-on, bottled-on date. Agree that best-buy date is quite meaningless, especially when it comes to IPAs. Difficult to determine, but if I can't find a bottling date, I go to the website to find out the release date. If I do suspect the beer is old, I will judge it accordingly. Often times I see IPAs over 6 months old on the shelf and shake my head.
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  7. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    I usually know the brewer's shelf life period the "Best by" date is based on. If I don't, I don't buy it until I do.

    Only IPAs? I want all my beer to be fresh when I purchase it (yeah, even those I intent to cellar).

    Why do you want to know the "brewed-on" date? What good does that do you? You'd have to know the time it takes for fermentation, aging, etc. Oh, wait.
    I see I asked you that before (twice) in that thread...:grin: but no reply.
    How is it "meaningless" if one knows the shelf life period the brewery uses for its "Best by" date?
    #7 jesskidden, Nov 11, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2021
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  8. dennisthreeninefiveone

    dennisthreeninefiveone Initiate (121) Aug 11, 2020 New Jersey

    What we need is a release date, since that would be when the brewery thinks ready to drink,
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  9. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,648) Feb 15, 2010 New York
    Society Trader

    I love how people on BA argue that old beer should be pulled from store shelves just like milk past its best by date... while people here also argue that "best by" dates are worthless on beer, claiming: "Just give me the canned on date so I can decide if it's still good or not." :slight_smile:
  10. dbl_delta

    dbl_delta Poo-Bah (3,240) Sep 22, 2012 Pennsylvania
    Society Trader

    If it's a brewery that I know and trust, I'll buy their beer even if it's undated.
    If it's a brewery that I haven't tried yet, I won't buy their undated product. *
    If I have choices, I look for a dated product from a brewery that I know and trust.

    * Unless, of course, it has a really cool-looking label. Sometimes that runs me off the rails. Then I buy a single. :slight_smile:
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  11. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Easy, I buy one can. If it is good I go back and buy more. Oh, your retailer won't sell singles? Sucks to be you. :-)
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  12. DEdesings57

    DEdesings57 Defender (687) Aug 26, 2012 New Jersey

    Even though single cans are usually marked up ?
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  13. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    not where I buy. Besides, would you rather pay $0.50 extra for a can or buy a whole 4pk/6pk of something that turns out to be old?
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  14. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,161) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Every brewery will have differing best by durations but I think that @dennisthreeninefiveone has a good strategy of purchasing the beers a month+ before the best by date. And if the beers are stored cold for a considerable period of time at the retailer this provides additional assurance of the IPA being 'fresh'.

  15. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,046) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Find all the IPAs that have "packaged on" dates, disregard the ones that don't. Pick out the ones I most want to drink from the ones with "packaged on" dates. Buy the freshest one(s) of those. Easy.
  16. mikeinportc

    mikeinportc Poo-Bah (1,696) Nov 4, 2015 New York

    This ^
  17. BillAfromSoCal

    BillAfromSoCal Devotee (400) Aug 24, 2020 California

    Maybe that keeps you sufficiently satisfied often enough when the choices include risks related to cost of buying entire 4pk/6pks, or if your intent is to demonstrate againat those brewers who don't date cans, but I have had some great beers in undated cans. You are missing some good beers that outperform some dated "fresh" beers.
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (3,046) Mar 12, 2009 New York
    Society Trader

    Well, I may miss out on some beers, I guess that's true. Not sure why that doesn't bother me. Perhaps it should :grin:?

    OTOH buying IPA's as fresh as possible is the way most likely to get to drink them at their "sweet spot" of age, which isn't always immediately upon packaging. Sometimes it's days, or a week or two, after packaging. It's rarely a month or two, but we each have our own "sweet spot" so obviously YMMV.
  19. BigIronH

    BigIronH Savant (956) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
    Society Trader

    I buy a lot of stuff with no “best by”, “packaged on” etc. Like another poster said, sometimes I’ll watch social media. If a brewery I like says this set of cans is going out for distro this week and I see them at my beer store a week or two later, I’ll pick them up. My choices would dwindle significantly if all I bought was beer that was marked with a date of some sort. I’ve taken a lot of risks buying stuff that I had no idea on. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. I suppose at that point, I’m relying on the store and the distributor to rotate which I know isn’t always a guarantee either. Overall, if I see something that looks interesting I will probably pick it up regardless. Cheers.
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  20. schoolboy

    schoolboy Poo-Bah (3,169) Dec 23, 2005 Ohio

    American style IPAs lose a lot of their edge quickly. They can be amazing when very fresh and disappointing not long after.

    I'm with the few other posters who avoid IPAs with "best by" dates. Those brewers are missing my purchases unless I know my dealer just got them from the brewer.
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  21. JrGtr

    JrGtr Devotee (455) Apr 13, 2006 Massachusetts

    |I have a few different methods - if there isn't a specific packaged on date, then I'll go by the best by, |I want to give myself at least a couple weeks leeway, if not more if possible.
    I will also judge that by the brewery. Some of them fall off dramatically whereas others will last longer with almost no change - trial and error of course to figure out which are which.
    I'll trust local breweries more than the distant ones - espeically those in my town or surrounding - they're likely to have more attention paid to than ones with reps stopping by every couple months.
    |Finally it does depend to a degree on the style. Hazy IPAs don't last long, where clearer ones, WC and such, will last longer before fading out. Obviousy this is mostly for IPAs and the lighter imports, ones like Dubbels, Quads, dark lagers and stouts / porters will last far longer with no detriment.
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  22. Celtics76

    Celtics76 Crusader (757) Sep 5, 2011 Rhode Island

    Yes. This is the standard method I use as well, with great success. I assume the best by date is 5-6 months after bottling.
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  23. Leighton_

    Leighton_ Initiate (40) Jan 31, 2021 Minnesota

    It really depends on where the flavor is coming from. If volatile aromatic oils are the root of the flavors like we see in hazy IPA's I find that oxidation kicks in fast. After about 2 weeks I find many of the most expressive unique flavor components have faded and anything more than 6 weeks usually deters me from purchasing. After about 4 months I find almost all of those flavors are gone, in light citrusy brews that generally just means it's turned bland but for beers with a more robust alpha oil content I find they get pretty much undrinkable.
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  24. defunksta

    defunksta Meyvn (1,161) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota

    Good point on "brewed-on date". A "bottled/canned-on" date would be more appropriate. Tomatoes, Tomotoes. There should be some sort of "release" date I think.

    The "best-buy" date is meaningless because it's arbitrary. Different beers have different shelf lives and it's not where one day it goes bad. It's a spectrum where IPAs will be best within the first month, not as good as it approaches the 3 month, and after that it continues to drop off. So an IPA with a 6 month "best-buy" makes no differentiation from the IPA at 1 month vs. 5 month because they both fall within the best-buy date. My point is that the "best-buy" date is arbitrary.
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  25. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Well, it does differ from brewer to brewer, which is why I specified (emphasis added):
    Which is no different that most every other type beer, of course. No reason to post our ol' buddy Dalgliesh's famous graph...

    Also, I've yet to see a brewery call it a "Best Buy" date (but I have seen the phrase used somewhere ---- maybe on signs above electronics stores).:grin:
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  26. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,180) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    It's the wholesaler and retailer I don't trust, not the brewery. There is some OLD IPA in PA!
  27. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
    Society Trader

    Trust them - any of the three - to do what, exactly? If the beer has no date code, how do any of them know when and which beer to pull off the shelf?

    Why would you trust a brewery that neglects a simply aspect of their business like keeping track of their product's freshness and allowing consumers to do the same.
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  28. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,180) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania

    I don't trust wholesalers and retailers to rotate stock properly or to order in amounts that can reasonably be expected to sell in a timely fashion.

    But yes, breweries should date their beer.
  29. HorseheadsHophead

    HorseheadsHophead Poo-Bah (2,332) Sep 15, 2014 Colorado

    3-4 months is the oldest I'll buy an IPA. Canned/bottled/born on dates are best.

    If they use a six month or one year best by date, take that into account when calculating the age.

    If I can't figure out the date code or they don't date at all, I don't buy it.
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  30. defunksta

    defunksta Meyvn (1,161) Jan 18, 2019 North Dakota

    Most people don't know the shelf life period the brewery is using. Hoppier beers such as IPAs tend to age worse than other styles with time. "BB" refers to "Best By" is something I've commonly seen. I guess it could be "Best Buy" ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
    I think we both want the same thing here and that's fresh beer.
    #30 defunksta, Nov 16, 2021
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2021
  31. Specialmick

    Specialmick Aspirant (294) Aug 26, 2019 Connecticut

    Harpoon Flannel Friday.
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  32. Monkeyknife

    Monkeyknife Poo-Bah (3,280) Jan 8, 2007 Missouri
    Society Trader

    I try to stay within 6 weeks of canning/bottling for best results.
  33. spersichilli

    spersichilli Aspirant (270) Apr 26, 2018 California

    if it has a best by date and not a canning date I won't buy it. I legit will only buy ipas with canning dates or ones that I can reverse engineer the canning date from a brewery's social media posts. When I buy IPAs I generally won't buy anything over 3 weeks old. I have a lot of good beer on hand and I value freshness very highly. I try to drink any IPA I have on hand within a month of canning and plan my IPA purchases/trades out so that way I can make sure this happens.
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