Good beer is a perishable product and some beer types have a shorter shelf life than others. It used to be the case that most beers were sterile filtered or even pasteurised before packaging to ensure they could happily sit on the shelf of an off-licence or in your garage for years without detriment. The problem was these beers didn’t have much flavour after all those process steps so there wasn’t much to lose in the first place.
The new wave of modern brewers see things differently. We are only really interested in maximising flavours and presenting a beer at its best.
Hop flavours fade with time and storage temperatures drastically effect the shelf stability of beer.
We work hard to control oxygen pick-up, store packaged beer in our 6° cold store, and encourage our customers to keep stock refrigerated and drink as fresh as possible. As consumers continue to understand the importance of drinking non-pasteurised beer fresh, we want to ensure all the information is available. Some breweries will only mark a ‘Best Before’ date, but if you don’t know how long the self life is you’ll just be guessing how fresh the beer is. There aren’t regulated shelf life standards across the industry so whilst many craft breweries keep dates short, others might have long dates to make the product more attractive to distributors, exports and retailers, often to the detriment to the flavour of the beer itself. We include the bottled on and the best before dates on all of our small pack beers, this enables the consumer to make an informed decision about which beers they purchase.
If the beer you’re buying doesn’t have a bottled on date, how do you know it’s fresh?
We have been extensively testing our shelf life as beers are packaged at our new site. We store some cold, some at ambient and measure oxygen content, carbonation, clarity and sensory flavours of every batch we produce and we have been pleased with the improvement in shelf-life we have been able to put in place as a result of having better equipment and processes, and we are confident that our BBE dates represent a honest assessment of our beers.
Our heavily hopped, and New England style beers have a 4-month shelf life. Our pale ales, core range IPAs, and wheat beers usually 6 months. The exception to the fresh is best rule of thumb is of course big stouts, porter and barrel aged beers, we date these between 1 to 5 years as we think many of these will only get better with age.