Freshness dating beer
“It’s more valuable for us to have a customer buy a fresh beer and have a good experience then lose a little bit on swapping out.” Swapping beer out — and the practice of putting “best by” dates on beer in the first place — was pioneered by Sam Adams.Headquartered in Boston, the brewery produces nearly a third of its beer at a facility in Allentown, Pa.Same for bottle-conditioned beers, which have live yeast that’s still fermenting.But beers with delicate flavors, like pale ales and pilsners, are generally better fresh.If Stevenson notices beer that’s getting close to being outdated, he holds a “blowout sale” to move them fast.If beer is out of code when it arrives, he says, it gets sent back immediately.Stores are answering the demand by stocking more kinds of beer.That makes it harder than ever to ensure it’s always fresh.
In this case, the fault probably lies with the store itself.
“Freshness is an important ingredient in beer, just like hops and malt,” says head brewer Jennifer Glanville.
“Whether it means checking freshness on kegs in a pub basement or checking the shelves at a grocery store, we’re constantly, almost obsessively, checking our beers to ensure they’re fresh.” It’s not entirely clear where the responsibility lies for making sure customers don’t end up with old beer.
That store might be one of the biggest offenders in Philly, but it’s not the only one.
Old beer is a real thing — and the epidemic is getting worse.