Beer Expiry

“It’s okay, someone will buy it eventually.”

That’s the response I was given to pointing out expired beer on a shelf of a liquor store on Vancouver Island. Granted, this was in an area of the Island where craft beer is not as desired as in others (yes, those places do exist), but I was still shocked at the prospect that selling it to someone eventually to recover the minor profit was worth that person never branching out ever again.

Just to be clear, this was not a high ABV barley wine or DIPA, this was a 4% import brown ale. This beer had no prospects to mature as time went on.

I’m sure if you were to ask a brewer when it’s best to drink their beer, most would say right away, and some would say “you’re too late if you didn’t get it from the source”, with a few more saying “you’re too late, I already drank it”. 

Beer is liquid bread, and craft beer is that artisan loaf that is meant to be eaten right away. With beers going unfiltered, unpasteurized, and still stored more often than not in bottles instead of cans, their shelf life is limited. The longer they stay on the shelf, the less they are the beer that was originally brewed. For some beers, this can be a good thing, with flavours maturing and mellowing, but for most, oxidation, being light struck, poor storage, and more can make that beer into a less than pleasurable experience.

Ultimately, there is more that makes a beer less suitable for aging than makes it more suitable, so when you see that beer on the shelf with an ancient bottled on date, or a long passed best before date, consider a few things about that liquor store:

  • It has poor product rotation, so you are more likely to have a bad beer.
  • It cares more about their profit than their customers.
  • It doesn’t care about the relationship it has with the breweries.

Do you want to spend your hard earned money at a store that doesn’t care about you?


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