You're shopping for beer. What do you do about undated beer?

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by drtth, Dec 19, 2015.


What do you do when you are interested in buying a beer but find it is undated?

Poll closed Dec 17, 2018.
  1. I'm often willing to take my chances and buy it anyway.

    46 vote(s)
  2. I often leave it on the shelf and leave the store without buying anything.

    8 vote(s)
  3. I often leave it on the shelf and buy something from a different brewery.

    127 vote(s)
  4. I often buy a different beer, and let the brewery know whose beer I bought instead of theirs.

    3 vote(s)
  1. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,683) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    We regularly see threads about bottle/can freshness dating and undated beer. There's always lots of talk about what breweries should and should not do, which dates they should or should not use, and I think most of us agree that some form of date code is better than nothing at all.

    However, it would also be interesting to know what people who buy beer actually wind up doing at the end of the day when they are beer shopping and find something they are looking for, or that is new or interesting looking and see that it has no date code.

    Feel free to elaborate on details in comments you might like to share with others.
  2. TooGood

    TooGood Defender (683) Jan 28, 2014 Minnesota

    If its not a stout or barleywine, and there is no date, I don't buy. Period.
    jaxon53, MonkeyBread, saccsy and 21 others like this.
  3. lambpasty

    lambpasty Devotee (417) May 3, 2013 New Hampshire

    If it's not a hop-forward brew I may take my chances (old Helles Lager probably not, but an old doppelbock probably won't suffer), but if hops are meant to be any portion of the main focus I will skip it. I'm lucky to live in an area where there is no shortage of options and variety so I never really feel like I'm missing out.
    Maestro0708, cello, Ranbot and 7 others like this.
  4. elektrikjester

    elektrikjester Aspirant (232) Nov 15, 2008 Georgia

    This is why it pays to be a regular at just one or two stores.That way, you have a good grip on inventory and know when beers are new on the shelves or not. And you have a relationship with the retailer that allows for forthright questions and honest answers.
  5. CanadianBacon

    CanadianBacon Initiate (0) Aug 26, 2015 Quebec (Canada)

    I will take my chances. My reason for doing so though is because the bottle shop I go to, the owner will always take back bad beer from me. Its always good to have a good relationship with your local shop owner :slight_smile:
    Deleted, DoctorZombies and MisterB330 like this.
  6. tmbgnicu

    tmbgnicu Devotee (478) Mar 15, 2014 Pennsylvania

    This is exactly right. I try my best to make it into a few of the same stores at least once a week and just glance over the inventory- both new and old.
    HopsAreDaMan and DoctorZombies like this.
  7. Dravin

    Dravin Aspirant (210) Apr 27, 2014 Indiana

    It depends on the style. I'm a lot less leery of buying undated (for me undated means no bottled on or best by date) Imperial Stout than I am an undated IPA. So if I'm there for an IPA I'll get something from a different brewery, if I'm there to buy a Imperial Stout (or other beer that ages well) I may just pull the trigger anyway. Also, if it's undated but seasonal and I know it's this season's (say this year has a new label) I'll probably go ahead and pull the trigger.

    Also the shop makes a difference too, I went to one shop that had pilsners on the shelf that were 3 years past their best by date. There ain't no way in hell I'd buy undated beer at such a shop regardless of if it was a cellar friendly style.
    JrGtr, Ozzylizard, Nate52 and 2 others like this.
  8. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,364) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Except "new" on the shelves, does not guarantee it is fresh, or even in code. Probably just as much beer gets old sitting on pallets in wholesale distributors as it does after delivery to the retailer.
  9. utopiajane

    utopiajane Poo-Bah (2,532) Jun 11, 2013 New York

    I will seldom buy a beer that is not dated. So I chose check the date and buy a different beer. I will take a chance on a single but not a six pack .
  10. Franziskaner

    Franziskaner Poo-Bah (3,600) May 27, 2005 Missouri

    If it is an IPA I will only get it if I know it hit the shelf in the last week or so. Otherwise I don't get too freaked out unless visible dust is on the bottle. Even then if it a sour or high gravity beer I will definitely buy it.
  11. frognot

    frognot Initiate (189) May 20, 2009 Texas

    IPAs are my favorite style and reward the breweries who date with my business.

    Luckily, more breweries are figuring this out.

    I've outgrown my "New beer? Must buy! I'll never find this again!" stage. A lot of my new beers are tried as samples or in a flight at a couple of local pubs before investing in a bomber, sixer or four pack.
    #11 frognot, Dec 19, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
    DoctorZombies likes this.
  12. mudbug

    mudbug Zealot (582) Mar 27, 2009 Oregon

    Depends on the style and brewer. IPAs-fresh if possible anything else, not so much
    HectorB, vabeerguy and DoctorZombies like this.
  13. DrumKid003

    DrumKid003 Aspirant (221) Aug 10, 2013 Oklahoma

    Maybe 10% of the beer that sits on the shelf around here has a date on it, so I'm used to buying beer, regardless of the style, without a date on it.
    CanadianBacon likes this.
  14. Invinciblejets

    Invinciblejets Devotee (451) Sep 29, 2014 South Carolina

    Only really care about dates with hoppy beers...most of the beer I buy is Brett stuff so I can give a fuck how old it is.
    Ozzylizard, Deleted and DoctorZombies like this.
  15. DoctorZombies

    DoctorZombies Poo-Bah (2,706) Feb 1, 2015 Florida
    Premium Trader

    Depends on the beer and what the shop staff can tell me re: when it came in...more often than not I buy something else...
  16. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,525) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    good thread @drtth Producers are not the only ones to blame for the freshness problem.
    jzeilinger and drtth like this.
  17. Monkeyknife

    Monkeyknife Poo-Bah (3,006) Jan 8, 2007 Missouri
    Premium Trader

    I tend to skew this way as well, espcially with hoppy IPAs.
    cello and vabeerguy like this.
  18. pat61

    pat61 Poo-Bah (5,191) Dec 29, 2010 Minnesota

    Forget to check for a bottle date and then curse myself for my impulsiveness and stupidity when I get home and discover that the hops are muted and the beer tastes like cardboard.
  19. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Zealot (502) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    Depends on the beer and then it depends if I know if they are self distributed or not. Hop focused styles. Yes I check dates and am getting pickier all the time.
    If freshness is important. I can let the locals who distribute their own product get by with no dates because I know I can get them a day or less out from it being packaged, and they are still cold.
    vabeerguy likes this.
  20. matcris

    matcris Meyvn (1,082) Sep 17, 2015 Arizona

    If it has an abundance of hops, I pass on it. I've had 2 year old Boston lager (bottles) at my Dad's, tasted perfectly fine. He had an SA cream stout from 1998 that he just used to make sweet potato Sheppard's pie. I definitely would not have drank it, but I figured the oven would kill anything that could kill me. Higher abv stouts, BW's, and porters, bring on the dusty bottles.
    #20 matcris, Dec 19, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2015
    vabeerguy likes this.
  21. DougC123

    DougC123 Disciple (313) Aug 21, 2012 Connecticut

    For hoppy stuff leave it, been burned too many times.
    BeerseAnyone, vabeerguy and matcris like this.
  22. JISurfer

    JISurfer Poo-Bah (1,681) Dec 10, 2002 South Carolina

    Nondated IPA, Stay away. Dated Fresh IPA, Drink all day!

    There's a brewery here, Big Island Brewhaus, that makes some really solid stuff. They have no bottle dates though. I've had two of their IPAs fresh, Overboard and Holy Humulus, solid offerings. I only bought them though, because I knew they had just been shipped out. Otherwise, I stay away from them and just buy their coconut/coffee porter and chocolate/sea salt Imperial.
    Vus and vabeerguy like this.
  23. vabeerguy

    vabeerguy Poo-Bah (1,887) Sep 21, 2015 Virginia

    Been there too many times especially when I have a large order and/or picking singles out to fill a couple of build your own six packs. At some point maybe I will learn. But if it is like my promise to myself to "never drink that much again," then it is hopeless.
    BeerseAnyone and pat61 like this.
  24. StoutElk_92

    StoutElk_92 Poo-Bah (2,037) Oct 30, 2015 Massachusetts

    I'm not too picky about dates. If the beer is good, it's good beer. I'm not going to shun a beer, brewery, or store because a bottle or can is undated... I may not expect superb freshness but overall I'm willing to take my chances, and am usually not disappointed. I don't mind having a little less hops if the beer tastes good anyway.
  25. Nlawrence301

    Nlawrence301 Initiate (0) Sep 26, 2013 Maryland

    What if it's a milk stout?
  26. zid

    zid Savant (931) Feb 15, 2010 New York

    @drtth , with only one option for "buy it" (and a little flippant about it too), and three different options for "don't buy it," I think you skewed your pole according to your own habits. (with all due respect)

    On top of that, the responses are doing nothing to combat the notion that freshness matters for beers that are just hop forward.
    Ranbot and drtth like this.
  27. John_Beeryman

    John_Beeryman Initiate (0) Jul 19, 2014 Virginia

    Hope for the best.
  28. beerluvr

    beerluvr Meyvn (1,193) Jan 2, 2001 Ontario (Canada)

    If I can't get an answer from a knowledgeable employee on when it arrived, it stays on the shelf. Been burned many many times (especially when I first started getting into beer) and after a while shellshock sets in.
    BeerseAnyone likes this.
  29. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (3,683) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    Almost all poll questions have a bias or are part of an agenda. This one is partly focused towards those who routinely report not buying undated beer. (But not on the issue of the drinkability life span of hop forward beers.)
    zid and JackHorzempa like this.
  30. OKbrew89

    OKbrew89 Crusader (729) May 13, 2013 Oklahoma

    I look at the Brewery and the bottle shop's history of holding and over-ordering. If it is a high end bottle, I go to a bottle shop that is more aware of dating and almost under orders stock.
  31. Smakawhat

    Smakawhat Poo-Bah (6,714) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    Most of the time I don't buy it. If I am in a store though that I frequent often and know when the shipment came in that's a different story... cause when they get it I'll get it...
  32. Beef_Curtains

    Beef_Curtains Devotee (470) Oct 14, 2013 Ohio

    I throw it on the ground
  33. Hendrick24

    Hendrick24 Defender (666) Sep 6, 2013 Wisconsin

    57 votes so far and not a soul has left the store without buying some beer. All is right in the world.
  34. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,058) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    Any beer that ages is ok, but obviously an IPA stays at the store. I do not always notify the brewery, but I try to in a polite way.
  35. NickSMpls

    NickSMpls Meyvn (1,063) Nov 11, 2012 Washington
    Premium Trader

    I'll try a seasonal beer without a date or maybe a single bottle without a date. I just tried a Blitzen from Millstream and it was delicious. I didn't know it was last year's seasonal until I went back to the store to buy more.
  36. nc41

    nc41 Poo-Bah (1,658) Sep 25, 2008 North Carolina

    It's not dated, and it's a hoppy beer , and it's not seasonal , no,thanks. Even at great beer shops I've seen 8 month old IPAs, god knows what a shitty store who doesn't care might offer up. Just no, save yourself money and the hassle. If worse comes to worse check the date on any Two Hearted, great beer easy to figure it out,
  37. dbrauneis

    dbrauneis Site Editor (7,775) Dec 8, 2007 North Carolina
    Premium Trader

    Of course it depends on style and light exposure (and rough temperature - chilled vs. shelf).
  38. jhartley

    jhartley Poo-Bah (2,427) Aug 22, 2010 Florida

    If it doesn't have a date on it and it's not a stout or porter I typically won't buy it, UNLESS I know it was just released and that it shouldn't be too old to buy. Other than that I will skip it and buy something else.
    The_Snow_Bird likes this.
  39. zeff80

    zeff80 Poo-Bah (8,643) Feb 6, 2006 Missouri

    I bash the shopkeeper over the head with it and blame him/her for everything that is wrong with society.
  40. The_Snow_Bird

    The_Snow_Bird Poo-Bah (1,518) May 7, 2015 Florida

    I'm the same way, stouts only!!
    RBassSFHOPit2ME likes this.