Freshness dating beer

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Listen to Collin Mc Donnell of Hen House Brewing, who we talked to about freshness: "Beer is perishable and nine out of ten beers are getting worse the longer they stay in the bottle -- hoppy beers in particular lose a significant amount of aroma and start oxidizing (tasting like cardboard or cooking sherry) in a short period of time." It could really be that simple.

Like all the rest of the things we drink and eat, there's a Best By attached to beer, and as vigilant beer consumers, we should stay on top of it. Mc Donnell suggests that you look for "bottled on" dates: "Different beers, of course, age differently but a good rule of thumb is that beer will taste best in it's first 30 days in a bottle and taste real gnarly after 90." Unfortunately, not all beers have these super-helpful dates.

So how can we spot fresh beer, and the best places to buy the freshest beer? Some have a mashup of letters and numbers that seem to be random. Thanks to the Consumerist, we have a little help in uncovering the secret born on date.

Here's their decoder ring: But this won't work for all packaging codes, like, for example, Sierra Nevada and Lagunitas. Beer with no freshness dating except a packaging code leaves you with few options; you can weigh how fast that beer moves at that retailer and how close the brewery is to where you're buying it and extrapolate a guesstimate of freshness, but the better option to to buy something you know is fresh," says Mc Donnell.

Just cause a beer can stay for six months in optimal conditions doesn't mean it got those optimal conditions.Six months is a long time to be sitting in a warehouse, moved around on trucks, and waiting to be picked up on a shelf.By posting here, you are permitting Boston magazine and Metro Corp. We tried to look at the importance of freshness from a scientific angle a couple weeks back, and though there were perhaps a couple missteps, it's clear that the people making the beer find freshness to be very important.

The good news is that breweries care about freshness -- listen to El Segundo's Thomas Kelley tell us about the different ways he works with distributors and shops to ensure freshness, for example -- and are moving towards the kind of distribution of freshness information that should combat this problem.

Just look at the labels on bottles from Stone Brewing in San Diego. According to Mc Donnell, these dates are "better than nothing, but they can be deceptive." More: ""Enjoy by" dates are better than nothing, but they can be deceptive.

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