Friday, August 31, 2012


Dear brewers,

Please date your bottles.

It's a simple matter that means a lot. I will not buy your IPA if there is not a date on the bottle or if I don't know for sure it just got to the beer shop, i.e. it's a seasonal beer or I literally saw it come in stock. If I'm browsing bottles in a great shop and am eager to take home an IPA, yours won't even be in the running if there is not a date on the bottle. And don't you want my business?

I'm not nit-picking, I'm just a beer enthusiast who has been burned too many times buying IPAs that were past their optimal drinking date, getting the bland cardboard trash you certainly did not intend for your customers to drink instead of the awesome hop taste and aroma you wanted me to have.

So please date your bottles.

I love to cellar beer. I have a rotating "cellar" 200 bottles strong and love aging beer. But if your beer is not marked with a date, I may be inclined to choose some other barleywine or imperial stout or strong ale over it. After all, a few years down the road I'll at least be able to tell how old those other bottles are when compared to yours. And don't you want my business?

I'm not nitpicking. I'm just a beer enthusiast who loves to lay down beer for a few years but who isn't willing to piss away his money on laying down beers that don't have defined dates on them, given that cellaring beer is such an expensive hobby in the long term.

So please date your bottles.

The craft beer movement is exploding, and that is awesome. Craft beer has had its ups and downs before, but since the 1990s things have always gotten better, especially when it comes to informing beer drinkers. Informed beer drinkers make for beer drinkers who grow craft beer as a whole. Giving information to your customers grows your business. And don't you want my business?

I'm not nitpicking. I'm just a beer enthusiast who believes that the more information you give your customers the better. The folks at Samuel Adams started to make the idea of dates important before many others, and breweries like Rogue and Southern Tier offer detailed information on their bottles (though shame on Rogue for not dating those bottles). So why can't you?

Of course you can. It may be an investment for you, but it will also be an investment in the folks who buy your beer.

So please date your bottles.


  1. For a consumer I agree completely. However, this will bite the distributers and retailers in the ass for all the obvious reasons. I think this is why it hasn't spread from brewery to brewery. Also, although IPA's are best consumed immediately (hopefully in all our opinions), stylistically they were meant to be consumed after a long boat voyage. Just picking nits here though.

  2. Nice comment. I agree, there are definitely reasons why some brewers and/or distributors would prefer no dating. This is especially true in areas/at shops where craft beer hasn't fully taken root. In shops like that, craft beer might sit for a very long time before someone buys it. If dated, it might NEVER sell once it gets past a certain point. I know I've encountered things such as Brooklyn mix packs that were TWO YEARS old.

    You can bet I didn't buy them.

    The flip side, of course, is that when it does eventually sell it will taste horrible ... and that means craft beer may have just lost a potential customer if they had that beer without realizing it was woefully out of date.

  3. I completely agree that beers need dates on them. In fact, just the other day I had a horrible DIPA, and the first thing I did was grab the bottle and look for a date. I wanted to see if the off flavors were due to age, or just a poorly crafted brew. If that bottle had a date that was 6 months old or something, then it's my fault and I'd have to buy another to see how it tastes fresh. But there was no date on the bottle, so I blame the brewer for the off flavors and won't be buying anything from them again.
    TL;DR Date your bottles!

  4. I find myself skipping out on beers I otherwise would like to try if their is no date on the bottle. If I'm spending $7-8 on a big bottle, or $9-12 on a six-pack, I want to have the beer as the brewer intended me to have it, and it's hard to make that happen with no date on the bottle. It's not just IPAs, but also includes pilsners, brown ales, hefes, etc.

    A possible solution to the problem is for the liquor store to stock more local beer, as the beer will be able to get to the store faster, and you will hopefully have a constant supply of fresh beer, if they properly rotate their stock.

    Another idea I had about dating the bottles uses smartphone technology. If a customer scans the barcode or QR code with their phone, could the brewery have a database set up that would show the dates the beer was bottled?

    Or maybe they can just stamp the bottling date on the label, and make it easier on the beer geeks!