Asked By: Jordan Murphy Date: created: Feb 17 2023

What is the date code for beer

Answered By: Oscar Rivera Date: created: Feb 17 2023

Know Thy Codes: Fresh Beer = Better Beer Beer-drinking usually leads to talking about beer and I’m ever-surprised by what people know, don’t know, think they know or just kinda fabricate (aka, “that’s the beer talking”). (And there’s always more to know, as ace beer writer Jason Notte tweeted last week, “The more I cover the #beer industry, the more clear it is how little I know about it.”).

One topic that often pops up during a round of beer-drinking-and-talking is getting burned by buying brews that are malingering on shelves looooong past their freshness window (and even the best beer stores have old stock hanging around). So here’s an intro to how to break those vexing beer codes, K nowing when the beer was made is vital knowledge, particularly for those mega-popular, mega-hopped IPAs; the aromas, flavor and bitterness drop off quickly.

Unfortunately, many brewers still don’t make it easy to figure out when their beer was bottled or canned. There is a morass of confounding letter/number combos: Julian dates, best before dates (but when were they packaged?!), codes that don’t specify whether it’s a born-on or pull-by date, etc.

  • Some codes are printed on the glass and are easily smudged; others are on the label but are near-impossible to read, overlapping with the imagery and label copy.
  • Even worse: Some codes are only stamped on the case, not the individual containers.
  • Most consumers have no idea what those letters and numbers mean.

Want to decode the “2JT” on Anchor Brewing’s bottles and cans? Um, it’s “easy”! Quoth their website: “The first character is always numeric and represents the last digit of the year. The second character is always alpha and represents the month by using the first letter of the month unless that letter has already been used.” Months are coded thusly: J = Jan, F = Feb, M = Mar, A = Apr, Y = May, U = Jun, L = Jul, G = Aug, S = Sep, O = Oct, N = Nov, D = Dec.

  1. The third character in the code is either alpha or numeric and tells the day of the month.
  2. The first 26 days are represented by the alphabet with the remaining days listed as: 27th through 29th = 7 through 9; 30th= 3; 31st= 1.
  3. An example of a date code would be January 20, 2012 = 2JT.” See? Easy! (Check out the image on this page for Ballast Point’s code breakdown.) Advertisement But there’s a handy one-stop to crack most of the brewers’ codes: Fresh Beer Only ().

Looking at Lagunitas? “Uses a bottling date. Julian date code, which is written in black on the neck of the bottle. There are two lines. First line has 3 digits followed by a space, then one more digit. The first three digits represent the day of the year, last digit is the last number of the year.

  1. Ex: 135 3 would be the 135th day of 2013 (May 15).
  2. Second line is batch number and military time.” And you’ll need to know that Magic Hat skips a letter: “Uses a production date.
  3. Ex.: M051.
  4. M= December (A=January, B=Feb, etc.
  5. I is skipped, so J=September, etc.), 05= 5th day, 1= 2011.
  6. Recommended shelf life 120 days from that date.” Ouch, my head hurts! But Fresh Beer Only can help ease the pain.

Pro tip: There’s a sure-fire way to get brand-new beer – buy local! Visit our beermakers to enjoy the freshest fermented beverages in 401 Land! No codes required! For more beer news, check Lou’s blog,, or follow @BottlesCansRI.

How long does bottle conditioned beer last?

Bottle-ageing beers: the don’ts and do’s There’s a simple rule for most modern bottled beers when it comes to ageing: don’t. It’s not worth it. Probably the vast majority of beers are designed to be drunk fresh, and all they will do if you keep them is deteriorate.

However, a few beers actually need ageing before they’re in perfect condition, even if only for a couple of weeks to a month (in the case of lower-gravity bottle-conditioned ales) and some need even longer than that: nine months to two years before they’re drinkable. For example, when bottled Guinness Extra Stout (at 4.2 per cent abv) was a “live” naturally conditioned beer (until 1994 in the UK and 2000 in Ireland) the expected number of days after bottling before the beer came into condition was seven to 14, with an average of 10 days.

(This depended on the ambient temperature that the beer was stored at, of course, and it was the fact that, thanks to the arrival of central heating, pubs were much warmer inside by the 1980s that Guinness decided it needed to stop letting its stout mature naturally in the bottle: hotter pubs meant faster maturation meant the beer in the bottle was not in the condition Guinness wanted when it reached the customer’s glass.) The stronger Guinness Foreign Extra Stout (7.5 per cent or so abv), when that was a naturally conditioned bottled beer, before 1948, required six weeks of conditioning after bottling but was then expected to remain in a perfectly drinkable state for at least a year.

Lactic acid content increased as the beer aged in the bottle, but was balanced by the production of esters and other volatile components in the maturing beer, and the lactic acid was believed to add to the “fullness” of the flavour. Brewing chemists at Guinness found that yeast could survive in bottled FES for up to 35 years, suggesting that a beer could continue to mature for at least that long.

Worthington White Shield, the 5.6 per cent abv bottle-conditioned India Pale Ale, is considered to take four weeks from bottling to come into prime condition, and to stay in condition for another nine months. After that, the beer is likely to be in a less than optimum state.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that White Shield will come back into condition at 15 or 16 months old, albeit with an altered taste profile. It will not, though, survive much beyond about 24 months without showing signs of deterioration. It’s an interesting experiment to take a crate of newly-bottled lowish-gravity bottle-conditioned beers and taste them over three or four months: when I had a wedding stout made for me by the Pitfield brewery, which was bottled “live” in June at around 5 per cent abv, it hit perfection (and very fine it was) two months later, in August.

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After that it gradually went downhill (unlike, I’m happy to say, my marriage). My experience is that the effect of bottle ageing on beer varies considerably depending on (1) the alcoholic content of the beer (2) whether it is bottle-conditioned, that is, contains live yeast, or not (3) the conditions under which the bottle is kept and (4) the colour of the beer, with darker beers ageing better than lighter ones.

  1. I’ve drunk a 20-year-old pasteurised 8 per cent abv stout that was fine: I doubt the same would be true of a pale beer that old, even one that strong.
  2. Indeed, while the pale-coloured bottle-conditioned Vintage Ale from Fuller Smith and Turner of Chiswick, 8.5 per cent abv is best first drunk at around nine to 12 months old, it is likely to hit its peak at around two years old, and although it will continue to mature and change for several years after that, from five years old onwards the direction is likely to be down.

Experiments suggest that the maturation takes place in “waves”, so that a beer which is in fine condition at, eg 30 months may have deteriorated at 36 months, be back on form at 42 months, deteriorated again at 48 months and so on. Stronger beers – those over 10 or 11 per cent abv – and particularly dark beers may need up to five years before becoming drinkable, with the “young” beer showing a distinct meaty or “umami” character that gradually disappears.

  1. Thomas Hardy Ale, 11.7 per cent abv, when brewed by Eldridge Pope was undrinkable at anything less than a year or 18 months: the O’Hanlon’s version was rather more welcoming when young.
  2. Other changes that take place in bottle-conditioned beers as they age are an increase in alcohol content, so that a beer bottled at 11 per cent abv might climb to 12 per cent after several years; a darkening or melanisation of pale beers; the development of “fruity” flavours that can range from cherries to plums; and the appearance of a vinous character.

However, the very strongest beers look to have considerable potential life: I’m still enjoying drinking Whitbread Celebration Ale, 11 per cent abv when it was bottled, almost 20 years on. Although there are references to cask-ageing of beers for 10 or more years from the 18th century onwards (and the tradition of laying down a cask of very strong ale when the “young master ” was born, to be drunk when he came of age 21 years later, lasted through until the 20th century), early mentions of bottle-aged beers in the UK seem to be rare.

The earliest I have found is an advertisement in The Times of London in September 1843 for quart and pint bottles of “Bass No 1, commonly known as Burton Ale” of “either the present season’s brewing or from two to four years old.” It was a version of Bass No 1, Ratcliff Ale, that was brewed and bottled in 1869 to celebrate the birth of a son, Harry Ratcliff, to one of the company’s partners, and a stash of Ratcliff Ale was discovered in cellars at Bass’s Burton upon Trent brewery in 2006.

The beer was still sound and drinkable, despite being almost 140 years old, with a flavour, to me, between sherry and smoky Christmas pudding. Bass No 1 is also the beer inside bottles of King’s Ale, brewed in 1902, which, again, still prove drinkable today when opened.

When brewers started expecting their bottled beers to be cellared for years, I don’t know: I’ve not found a reference to regularly produced “dated” bottle-conditioned beers before the London brewer Barclay Perkins began carrying the year of brewing on the label of its Imperial Russian Stout, from at least 1948.

Imperial Russian Stout was matured, in the 1930s, anyway, for at least a year in the bottle before being put on sale. IRS ceased being produced in 1993, but bottles of the ’92 are still very good. The rules then, if you fancy trying some bottle ageing, are: 1) Don’t bother with anything less than 5 per cent abv, unless it’s (a) bottle-conditioned (b) preferably dark, and (c) only for a few months.2) For a beer between 5 per cent and 7.5 per cent abv, don’t bother keeping it longer than 24 months, it’s likely to start deteriorating after than, if not before.3) For a bottle-conditioned beer more than 7.5 but less than 10 per cent abv, several months may be needed before it is drinkable at all, and it should last in drinkable condition between five and 10 years.

However, beware of the “waves” of drinkability, and if you find one bottle less drinkable than the last one you opened, you may find that if you wait a few months before opening the next, the beer comes back on form again.4) For a beer more than 10 per cent abv, it may not be drinkable at all for at least a year, and it could be two years old before getting into any stride, but it is very likely to remain extremely satisfying for 10 years or more.5) All the above depends on storing the bottles (a) upright (b) out of the light (c) at a constant temperature, or at least one that does not vary rapidly, and never higher than room temperature at worst (so yes to a wardrobe; no to alongside the boiler).

: Bottle-ageing beers: the don’ts and do’s

How long does bottled stay good?

Does bottled water go bad? – The short answer is yes. Some people view the expiration dates on water bottles as just a guideline, or they think only paranoid people abide by such strict dates. But, believe it or not, the expiration dates on the plastic water bottles you buy DO matter, and you should pay attention to them.

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Thankfully, bottled water has a generous expiration date compared to other types of foods. Unopened bottled water can last up to two years. Opened water bottles, however, can last a few weeks. Pure tap water usually expires after six months from the time it gets packaged. We don’t tend to think that bottled water goes bad because if we drink it past the expiration date, the water seems to taste exactly the same (unless you have a sensitive palate).

But would you eat meat or dairy products that have reached their expiration date? Hopefully not. And yes, the effects of eating spoiled meat or dairy does have more immediate consequences for those who disregard the date on its packaging. Drinking bottled water past its expiration date won’t give you immediate consequences, but it can have a lasting negative effect on your body.

How long does beer last after bottled date?

Does Beer Go Bad? Everything You Need to Know About Proper Storage and Beer Expiration Dates May 03, 2018 Whether you’re planning a Corona -soaked backyard barbecue or want to keep your favorite craft beer from local microbreweries fresh, understanding how to store beer is the first step to enjoying it.

  1. After all, there’s nothing worse than being disappointed by a skunked beer when your taste buds were craving a refreshing pale ale,
  2. The short answer is that yes, beer does go bad, but it can last a long time under proper storage conditions,
  3. Some beer styles last longer than others, and most have a shelf life well beyond the best-by date chosen by brewers,

So yeah, it’s complicated. To answer all your questions, we’ve put together this ultimate guide to keeping your good beer from turning into a bad beer, Read in full for a complete understanding of all the factors that affect beer shelf life, or skip to your most burning question first.

Like any food, beer is an organic substance, meaning it’s made from plant materials that will eventually succumb to decay, just as all living things do. Brewers do their best to make beer last as long as possible, but nothing can resist the onslaught of bacteria and chemical reactions as time passes.

There are three major ways that old beer can meet its demise (flavor-wise, anyway): light exposure, oxygen exposure and bacteria exposure. It turns out that ultraviolet light is just as bad for beer as it is for your skin. When UV light penetrates beer bottles, it, the plant material responsible for your favorite beer’s complex better flavors.

This chemical reaction breaks down important flavor compounds until the look — and smell — exactly like the chemicals in skunk spray. That’s why ” lightstruck ” bottled beer turns into unappetizing skunky beer. Brewers seek to minimize the damage by shipping beer in darker bottles, If you’re a fan of hops-laden IPAs, look for brown glass or canned beer for a longer shelf life,

that eventually alters the flavor and aroma of your beer. As oxygen interacts with the chemical compounds in the beer, it breaks them down, which results in different flavors. One of the most common results of oxidation is, Other compounds cause other flavors, which can include everything from a cardboard flavor to notes of must or aged sherry.

  • Because oxidation is caused by air leakage, bottled beers may be slightly more susceptible to this issue than cans, which have a tighter seal.
  • As a general rule, it’s best to store beers upright for an extended period, as this minimizes the amount of beer in contact with the air (as opposed to placing them on their sides, which maximizes air exposure.

Eventually, all things must decay, and the cause is microbial action. Living bacteria think your beer is tasty, too, and they’ll eat away at it over time. This is relatively rare when it comes to commercially sold beer, because brewers do everything possible to minimize contamination.

  • The alcohol content of beer also acts as a natural preservative, because microbes can’t survive in liquids with a high alcohol content,
  • Refrigeration also helps slow the life cycle of microorganisms, including the natural yeasts you’ll find in bottle-conditioned ales,
  • Just about every commercially produced beer is tagged with an expiration date,

Also known as the sell-by date or the best-before date, these are meant as guidelines rather than holy law about when to throw out your beer. Because no beer lasts forever, and brewers want to protect their reputations by keeping customers satisfied, they put a date on beer to let grocery and liquor stores know when to pull a product that may no longer be at its best quality,

  1. This is not to say that expired beer is going to kill you or even that it is guaranteed to taste bad.
  2. On the contrary, properly stored beer can last for months beyond the suggested sell-by date,
  3. You can definitely buy a beer near or even past its expiration date, but be aware that it will have a shorter shelf life and should therefore be consumed relatively soon.

Most beers last on the package. When stored at room temperature, you can expect beer to last for six to nine months beyond the use-by date, Refrigeration increases this time period to up to two years. Sell-by dates are usually just a guess, because many factors influence how long a beer will last.

Distance: How far the beer travels within its distribution range affects its aging. Long road trips mean your beer is older by the time it gets to you, and this increases the possibility that the beer was agitated, left in the heat or sun, etc. In general, a local beer is a fresh beer. Popularity: How fast is the turnover where you bought it? If your favorite imperial stout is hard to keep in stock because it’s selling like hotcakes, you can be sure it hasn’t sat around for too long before you snag it. Rare items collecting dust may be much older. Packaging: Because cans blot out direct sunlight and seal out oxygen and potential contaminants, they’re better at keeping beer fresh for longer periods. If you don’t like cans, brown glass bottles act like sunglasses to keep UV rays at bay and prevent skunking; green bottles are also somewhat effective. Clear bottles offer the least resistance to ultraviolet light, Temperature: How does the seller store the beer before you buy it? Keeping it out of direct light is critical, and refrigeration will prevent aging and allow the beer to taste better for longer. You can also take a look to see if bottles and cans are stored upright, which will minimize oxidation more efficiently than ones stored on their sides.

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Eventually, all beer goes bad. That’s the sad truth about life. On the bright side, keeping beer in the fridge is a good way to help it last as long as possible. This is because a dark area in a cool place is the best place to store a beer to avoid the things that make it go bad.

Your refrigerator is both cool and dark, as long as the door isn’t opened too often. As mentioned above, refrigeration slows down natural aging processes and allows a beer to taste fine up for a good two years after its expiration date, — those bottles sealed with a cork held in place by a wire cage — are a bit of a different case and require special care when refrigerating.

Corks are typically reserved for Belgian beers, but you may see them on other wheat beers from microbreweries that like to create a vintage beer look. In general, a cork creates a very tight seal, because it expands to completely fill the neck of the bottle.

Many home brewers feel that corking is a better option than capping when it comes to long-term storage. The extreme cold inside your standard kitchen refrigerator — typically 38 degrees Fahrenheit — also creates very dry conditions, and this can cause the cork to shrink slightly. If this happens, the seal will be broken and air and bacteria can creep in, advancing the aging process and leading to an altered flavor profile.

You can prevent this from happening to your corked beers by storing them in a instead. Like a fine wine, a corked beer does best at temperatures around 55 degrees Fahrenheit, which is cool enough to slow the aging process but warm enough to maintain reasonable humidity for the cork.

Unlike wine, however, it’s best to store a corked beer upright to avoid too-rapid oxidation, which can cause a major change to the chemical balance of the beer and lead to off-flavors. This depends on several factors. First, your beer bottle or can would have to survive the freezing without exploding.

Liquid expands slightly when it’s frozen, but it’s the carbonation that’s the real problem, as the water pushes the carbon dioxide bubbles outward. This creates extra pressure that will eventually leave a mess of frozen beer and broken glass in its wake.

  • Even if you catch your mistake before the beer freezes completely, it may still be ruined.
  • If enough pressure built up to loosen the cap on bottled beer, air leaks would lead to a disappointingly flat beer when you open it.
  • Freezing would also be disastrous for a bottle-conditioned beer with live yeast, as the cold would kill the yeast and put a halt to its continued flavor development.

On the other hand,, A German eisbock is made by freezing beer on purpose and skimming off the ice to leave behind a beer with higher alcohol content, (The science here is that the water freezes long before alcohol, so removing ice doesn’t remove any alcohol when done early in the process.) You can try this yourself, but be aware that this is likely to,

Lots of non-beer snobs also enjoy beer slushies, too, but in general it’s best to rely on the fridge instead of the freezer when you need a cold beer fast. Yes. Though many beer drinkers blame warm temperatures for “skunking,” this particular type of bad flavor is actually caused by exposure to direct sunlight,

UV rays break down the essential oils in hops extracts into different chemical compounds, one of which is an exact match for skunk spray. Brown bottles can add a layer of protection — and certainly do more to help than clear glass containers — but the best way to prevent a skunky flavor and aroma is to store your alcoholic beverages in a dark place,

This is particularly important when it comes to hoppy beers that are more likely to develop a skunky taste than lighter beers like a Bud or Coors Light. On the bright side, if you want to drink beer in the sun, go ahead and enjoy. It’s unlikely that a short period in the sun will do any harm, even if you prefer summery light beers in clear bottles.

As you can see, a great beer is affected by all sorts of elements, including temperature, sunlight, the storage container and more. To help everything from a Bud Light to a barleywine taste its best, follow these basic beer storage tips:

Refrigerate. Keep your beer in a refrigerator to slow the aging process and block out UV light. The ideal temperature for beer storage is about 50 to 55 degrees, though you can go colder with capped bottles and cans. will let you control the temperature to keep it at the perfect level for both storage and serving. Find a Dark Place, A good beer cooler will offer UV protection, but if you choose to keep your beer at room temperature, choose a cool room with minimal temperature changes. The ideal spot will be a dark one, where no direct sunlight can shine on your beer and start the skunking process. Your basement may be a good choice. Store Beer Upright. Avoid unnecessary oxidation by keeping bottles and cans in an upright position in your fridge or on the shelf. This keeps only the smallest surface area of the beer in contact with the air to slow the aging process, whereas keeping a beer on its side maximizes the amount of surface area for oxidation.

With a little extra care in storing your beer, you can help it last as long as possible and enjoy peak flavor from your favorite brews. : Does Beer Go Bad? Everything You Need to Know About Proper Storage and Beer Expiration Dates