18 Comments

  1. On Tap This Week 02/12/17 – ontapbakersfield
    February 12, 2017 @ 1:38 pm

    […] The Full Pint hits the nail on the head with this article from last year that will always be relevant: That Not So Fresh Feeling – Too Much Old Hoppy Beer On Shelves […]

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  2. Hugh
    February 4, 2017 @ 4:32 pm

    It just needs to be off the shelf and be kept cold (36F/2C) in a refridgerator. Proven to extend the life of a beer, even a hoppy one, by a huge margin (refer Charlie Bamforth, Professor of Malting and Brewing Science). It’s poor storage that contributes to many quality beers going south before their time.

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  3. JD
    December 26, 2016 @ 5:32 pm

    I think it begins with the consumer 1st. A bottle shop or bar can’t always dictate to the customer. With the numerous apps and social media that point people to the next hottest beer. A small startup can’t compete with a big bottle retailer. The startup is held to a higher standard on which products they carry and freshness. The big bottle store gets many people who do not care anything about the freshness, or big beer purchase/industry, they just want some beer. Everyone hates big beer purchases and then stands in line for the once a year beer. The little guy has to buy a excess of regular products to get the once a year beers. Then they get stuck with it and are frowned upon. I keep seeing people wanting others to conform to their ideas while hypocritically not conforming. It starts with the consumer. I suggest you take craft beer for what it is. A great industry that will eventually become like wine. Dominated by big box stores.

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  4. Adam
    June 1, 2016 @ 1:11 pm

    Great article. The same plea can be made for draught beers in retail with respect to IPAs. I’ve had subpar draught beer at establishments were I don’t go back. Also, due to the volatility of craft IPAs you may experienced off flavors that are apart of the brewing process and not apart of distribution or retail. Then this off flavored beer (or bad beer) is passed off onto a consumer’s first experience of craft beer. As a craft beer enthusiast is kills me to think people are consuming a brewers product in an off flavor state and then thinking it represents craft beer as a whole. It happens but year old IPAs (as expressed on other comments posted above) on the retail shelf is inexcusable.

    Possible solutions? Well first, it has to be the responisbility of everyone and by everyone, I mean everyone from brewer, distributor, retail and the consumer themselves. I admit to not looking at dates on IPAs and getting burned by a stale beer but in doing so it’s made me a smarter consumer.

    Second, data analytics and cloud based platforms will allow for better communication between what is being brew versus what is consumed. There are already products out on the market which attempt to bridge this gap. However, the technology is outpacing the end user.

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  5. Episode 129 - Buffalo D | The Craft Beercast
    May 26, 2016 @ 4:03 pm

    […] That not so fresh tasting […]

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  6. Scott
    May 14, 2016 @ 9:37 am

    Unless the bottle is dusty I don’t look at the bottling date.

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  7. Craft Brewers Conference & World Beer Cup
    May 9, 2016 @ 11:48 am

    […] 2. Too Much Old Hoppy Beer On Shelves?: Could that hoppy beer you’re drinking be out of date? In an attempt to ensure consumers a vast selection, some retailers may compromising the quality and freshness of their inventory. Consumers need to become more savvy and some retailers need to improve the stewardship of their retail selection. Read the complete story in The Full Pint, by clicking here. […]

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  8. Joel A Chappell
    May 6, 2016 @ 2:09 pm

    I would like to politely disagree.. But only slightly… As the owner of: (Forgive the shameless plug) beerdrinkersunited.com I consider myself a bit of an IPA Snob. Personally my all time favorite Everyday beer is a good ole’ IPA from one of the Boston based breweries.
    But: let’s remember the history and lineage of IPA. The history of IPA is a bit murky at best. Some say it was developed to withstand the long journey from England to India. Others speculate that it was brewed aboard ship and the fermentation that occurred on a rocking ship going from the canary islands and then on around the horn of Africa, yielded a stronger, heartier, brew.. I actually suspect something a bit more: If indeed IPA was brewed on the way it stands to reason that the brewers were using hops that were aged and/or not as fresh… Hence a different more “Grassy/floral Taste in a true IPA”
    While the history is interesting, we all must read the label, and/or website, of our favorite IPA and or brew and consider the type of hops used. Remember: it’s the Specific hops that yield specific flavors, cascade, for instance, have a fruity taste. East coast hops tend to be more “flowery.” and in my opinion, a closer flavor of a classic IPA.
    Now, all that being said lets talk again about the theory of an IPA that “Survives a long trip” to india. We nowadays are spoiled in that we pop open a bottle and/or Keg as soon as it’s ready. Conventional wisdom says that the fresher it is the better the aroma. As the acids will break down said aromas as it ages. But back when IPA was first cultivated it was aged and tasted different.. Personally, I like the variation of taste for a 2 month old IPA… Don’t get me wrong if it’s not sealed correctly it can be a bad experience… But it can also be a good one too… and in my opinion: closer to a real IPA once arrived at India…

    Meh… I like the fresh IPA slightly more though 😉

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  9. irunonbeer
    May 6, 2016 @ 2:28 am

    I very rarely used to look at dates until I decided to splurge on an old favorite IPA of mine and noticed a significantly different taste than I remembered. Sure enough the brew’s best by date had passed 3 months ago.

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  10. Jeremy G
    May 5, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

    I’ve been seeing this getting worse for years. In my local market it’s mainly the distributors pushing retailers to stock as much as possible, and often telling retailers that they can’t have a certain beer unless they take a certain amount of some less desirable beer, which won’t sell well. So in my local market I see it as more of a distributor problem. Then every few months some new big craft name (Bells and Breckenridge soon) will start distro in a saturated market, and they will place a full orders of each, load up the local shelves with them, and in six months nobody will care about the new distro stuff anymore. The craft beer bubble is here, I’m just waiting to see who cries first, the distros with no shelves to stock because the shelves are full, or the retailers stuck with a bunch of old, stale beer.

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  11. Jack H
    May 5, 2016 @ 2:06 pm

    I was at a store yesterday in central New Jersey that had 2-year-old Dogfish Head beers on the shelf. All of them: 90-Minute, Burton Baton, Palo Santo. Two-year-old Wookey Jack (I don’t even buy two-month-old Wookey Jack). And I only know how old these bottles were because those breweries have been dating bottles for years. I had to presume they were all that old, unless I know they didn’t exist back then.

    You make a good point: with craft beer such a competitive market now, why do stores even bother to keep old beers around? Clear space, get something new in, or don’t bother if you can’t get anyone to buy anything. There was one nice thing about that store: they move so little beer, that they have a row of 2014-bottled Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vielle just sitting there.

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  12. Josh C.
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

    I don’t necessarily recognize the presence of a ‘bubble’ as Bill suggests (at least how I recognize the term ‘bubble’ to be used, like the housing bubble), but there is an issue with retailers in their either lack of education about beer (it’s like any other food! there’s an expiration date!) or their desire to profit off the trend and its higher profit margins, and knowingly disregard things like freshness.

    Patrons in the know can quickly sniff out these retailers who don’t care or don’t know any better, myself included. I know locally which retailers to avoid (or at the very least buy only seasonally-available products I know to be fresh) and which I can rely on to have fresh product. I also know which products available locally sport either expiration dates or production codes, and know how to read them (the most annoying of which is Julian calendar *table flip*).

    As a craft-beer retailer myself, it’s bad business to sell out of code product for a multitude of reasons. Someone who may not drink craft beer could decide to give something a try and if it’s stale, may decide to never drink craft beer again. Or they may decide that whichever brewery’s beer they settle on might not be worth drinking and will avoid trying any of their beer again. Or you could develop a bad reputation for craft-beer enthusiasts as someone who sells bad beer and lose business altogether.

    I think something a lot of retailers may not know is to reject beer altogether if it comes from the distributor old or out of code. I reject IPA on a fairly regular basis that’s 2-3 months old depending on how fast I think I can unload it. If it’s something I think might sit around awhile, but like to keep it because of its industry-recognized importance or it’s a special request, I’ll flat out reject the order if it’s not what I would consider ‘fresh.’ I think some might also not know that some distributors will swap out old product you weren’t able to move for fresher product. I always set aside my out of code Stone bottles because I know my distributor will swap it out for a fresh case.

    I think an easy solution that should be implemented is government-regulated date stamps. Food and most beverages must have it, beer should not be the exception. Mandatory production dates should be enforced, and let the patrons decide if they want to educate themselves on how to determine whether product is fresh. Expiration dates are too unpredictable with too many varying cofactors. I’d much rather now when a product is bottled / canned and make up my own mind if I want to consume it.

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  13. Andrew
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:41 pm

    It’s a huge problem. I was in my local beer shop/market last week and they had a range of El Segundo Brewery IPAs in their fridge for $9.99 each. I’ve had some of the El Segundo IPAs in the past and they are generally very good. I was considering some of these and then happened to notice the “Bottled on” date on most of the bottles was May 2015! Almost a year old! Thank god I caught that. I have seen bottles of Firestone Walker Double Jack on the shelves that are 8-12 months old as well. You really have to be careful. Unless I know for sure that an IPA is new or recently released, if it doesn’t have a date on the bottle then I won’t buy it.

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  14. Michael E
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

    I wonder if this is due to the manager’s misunderstanding of beer. It is easy for certain foods to be distinguished as perishable while others are considered virtually non-expiring as long as they are not opened. I can’t even count how many time I’ve picked up some drinks from a store and they have a very thick layer of dust on them. People often think that pasteurization stops all chemical processes and that shelf life only has to do with bacteria/fungi contamination.

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  15. Cory R.
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

    You hit the nail on the head. Most places trade freshness for selection.

    I’ve noticed that time and time again at my local Total Wine and Bev Mo. I’ve even seen seasonal releases in the seasonal section from the previous year! That is not only way past sell by but misleading to the customer.

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  16. Everybody Hates A Tourist
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:12 pm

    The BevMo near my place is bad for this as well. I go in often enough to know what’s fresh, but I’ve seen some 22oz bottles of slower-selling IPAs sit in there for a year or more.

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  17. Kromz
    May 5, 2016 @ 1:10 pm

    I 100% agree with everything stated. However, isn’t a lot of what is on retailer shelves distributor driven? In a perfect world I would think a new bottle shop could pick & choose from a few different distributor catalogs and have whatever they want delivered. In reality isnt there a lot of “beer games” or “buy so many of this shelf beer and I’ll send you some whales in the future”? I have very little experience buying high end craft beet wholesale so I’m just wondering. I feel like that’s why we see a lot of what we see on store shelves.

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  18. Bill B
    May 5, 2016 @ 11:09 am

    Well done. We’re facing a bubble here. There’s a strong similarity to the current state of craft beer and what’s happened in action sports (surfing, snowboarding, etc.).

    I’ll actually have an article on that in the Craft Beer Attorney’s B5 newsletter and share on http://www.remedypr.com too, if anyone wants to check it out. We have some there now!

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