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Never drink stale beer again


Few things are more disappointing for a beer drinker than popping open a newly purchased bottle, only to find the beer past its prime. Today, there are apps like MiBeerAge, which calculates the age of beer by bottling code, but rewind a few years back and consumers were on their own. At least, that’s how Patrick St-Amand felt when he started compiling bottling code information for his site Fresh Beer Only!

The site’s list of code information is simply incredible. St-Amand, who started the site after getting “burned one too many times by strange, hard-to-read batch codes,” he notes, initially emailed every brewery on the BeerAdvocate database for bottling code details (now they reach out to him). The information he posts comes straight from the brewery, so you get beefy entries like this one:

While it’s not as quick of a reference as a smart-phone app, Fresh Beer Only! is exhaustive, spanning from Boston’s High & Mighty to San Francisco’s Speakeasy bottles. And it’s a perfect resource if you’re trying to figure out the age of rogue cellared bottles. Give it a whirl, and tell us whether you bother with bottling codes in the comments.

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Chris Staten is DRAFT’s beer editor. Follow him on Twitter at @DRAFTbeereditor and email him at

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  • Justin says:

    This is going to be very helpful, though I am wondering why all the breweries can’t just be more helpful and put the date they bottled it on the package (can or bottle, not holder) in MM DD YY? Codes and best before dates don’t instill trust in the consumer, tell me when you bottled it, using a consistent and understandable format so I can know if that sale at Albertsons is really a good deal.

  • Rob says:

    Please Be sure to know from the brewer how far out they code each beer(style)….no one needs a bunch of witch hunters out there…and justin judge each beer on taste, some beers are better if you let them lay down for a few years….

  • David says:

    Haven´t you heard about “ageing” a beer?. Who cares about expire dates and batch bottling dates when talking about quality beers?

  • Aaron says:

    This is very important when buying hop forward beers like imperial IPAs. Nothing wrecks your day more than cracking open a stale old bottle of Pliny. As far as other agable beers, it would be nice to know how long they’ve been aging…

  • Fred says:

    There are beers that are better with age but there are styles that beg to be consumed fresh. Russian River’s Pliney the Elder is a prime example, read the label sometime. Just because a beer may be a “quality” beer doesn’t mean it is supposed to sit around, it will ruin them.

  • Emily says:

    David, beers under 5% ABV and certain styles are not meant for aging. That doesn’t make them of a lesser quality. There are plenty of session beers that I consider exquisite, but they don’t hold up during aging, so knowing the bottling date can be very important. Über hopped beers are best consumed fresh as the hops don’t maintain their flavor over time.

  • Fred says:

    Just like wine there are beers that will improve with age and beers that will be drain pours if too old.
    Bottling dates are crucial.
    Look at a Pliney the Elder bottle, benchmark for a DIPA, says right on it “do not age, drink fresh”.
    The ability to age is dependent on the style and the brewers intent for the beer.

  • Adam says:

    David -that’s kind of an ignorant statement. If the beer is five months old, I want to know. If it’s five years old, I want to know. If you have any kind of cellar then you’d know that sometimes you’ll lose track of a beer and need to check the date on the bottle. Besides, not all “quality beers” age the same way or have the same shelf life.

    Good article. Thanks.

  • MiBeerAge says:

    Great conversation folks. There is one thing I would like to say about expiration dates on products. The dates vary anywhere from 90 to 545 days after bottling which we take into account when programming the application. I always wonder when viewing sites that rate beer if one person is drinking a 30 day old beer, and another is drinking the same beer but 300 days older. I would also like to note that some micros use specific expiration dates for different products (Lager vs. Porter). We here at MiBeerAge are trying to add as many micro breweries as possible. If you want your favorite beer added to the app send a picture of the code to, even if you don’t need the app it will help someone else. Cheers!

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