Monday, November 16, 2009

No Country for Old Beer

Why, why don't all breweries follow the lead of Anheuser Busch? I'm not talking about the taste of the beer, but rather the practice of putting a bottled on date on the label. I could fill a keg with the number of beers that I have spent money on, only to find that the beers were old. Old is a relative term, and in many cases can even be a good thing. Just yesterday I bought a 2006 Rogue Imperial Stout, and was happy to do it. Other imperial stouts and barleywines from the past are hiding in my refrigerator as I type. So when I say "old" I am referring more to the pale ales and IPAs, which suffer greatly from long stints on the retail shelves, and even a couple of months of age are easy detected when it comes to these styles. SKA Brewing is the latest addition to those who state the date on their beers, and there are others who do it, but not enough. Some breweries label the dates cryptically, with something like "3189" printed on the bottle, meaning the beer was bottled on the 318th day of 2009. Others' like Big Sky, have a best by date on the bottles. Mission St., a Trader Joe's private label beer, prints the bottled on dates on the case, which doesn't help once the beers are out of the box and on the shelf. I saw one case of the pale ale about to be stocked that had a May bottled on date. Yuck. While in Denver for GABF, I talked a bit with Brian Dunn, founder of and head brewer at Great Divide Brewing. Great Divide is one of the breweries that gets it, and clearly labels their bottled on dates. I told Brian of some sightings in Albuquerque stores of Great Divide that was past its prime. He asked me to email him with the name of the offending retailer and he would take care of it.

So recently I was at a Kelly Liquors in Rio Rancho and stumbled upon some Great Divide relics. The first fossil I encountered was a Hercules DIPA with a bottling date of December 23, 2008. An eleven month old DIPA is nowhere as cute as an eleven month old baby, trust me. And I didn't have to even check the date on the Titan IPA- it was the version in Great Divide's old packaging, which changed almost two years ago! What makes it even worse is the fact that this location (4300 Rockaway, off of 528 in Rio Rancho) hasn't even been open long enough to have these beers sitting around so long. This means that Kelly's is shipping their old beers around to their different locations, in hopes of squeezing out every last cent from their customers- who cares how it tastes??? This should come as no surprise, as this is the same company that takes those combination liquor bottle/logo glass gift sets apart so they can sell the glass seperately for an extra buck. But it still bugs me that these people don't give a damn about you or me or anything not green and spendable. I emailed Brian about this Kelly's and he got right back to me. He had informed his wholesaler and had them go and pull all the offending dates off the shelves. Good on him for caring about the integrity of his product. I guess it is in all our best interests to continue to drink local beers like Marble, who doesn't label the bottled on dates, but whose beers don't stay on the shelves long enough to get old.

4 comments:

Stan Hieronymus said...

This was the one on Coors (there's one north on 528 as well)? I recently saw a bottle of Mahr's in there that can go to kindegarten soon (bottled in summer of 2005).

ABQbeergeek said...

Yeah, north of Southern towards River's Edge there is a new Kelly's. Today I stopped in the locations at Coors and Gun Club and Coors and Arenal (I don't just cruise Coors all day, by the way), and the craft selections were sparse.

Jesse said...

Troublemaker.

marcus said...

Awesome, simply awesome.