To Stamp or Not To Stamp

Date Stamping has always been a contentious issue in the business of home beermaking products. In the grand scheme of food products manufacturing, ours is a very small, very specialized niche market. One of the problems with very small, very specialized niches is that you never accomplish volumes that make issues of freshness dating easy. You can bet that if Budweiser had the sales volumes of say, an obscure Central European brewery, it would not put a “born on” date on their products.

The Budweiser company is to be lauded for putting an easily recognizable date of production on their products. Think what you will about the type of beer produced, you always know if the Budweiser product you are purchasing has accidently spent the last summer sitting in a warehouse somewhere getting stale. Whether Budweiser was following a trend set by the microbrewery industry or vice versa, the fact remains that putting a recognizable date of either production, or expiration, is becoming the norm in the commercial beer business.

Why is date-stamping so important in home beermaking products? As with beer itself, freshness is key in the products that go into making beer. Malt concentrates darken with age. There is no reversing it. It will happen. This darkening starts to become noticeable in light malt concentrates in about 2 years. It becomes significant after about two and a half years. All malt concentrates start to take on stale flavors after about two and a half years. Depending upon the quality of the yeast, and the quality of the production process, dry yeast starts to deteriorate at about the same rate.

Unfortunately, date-stamping is not the norm in the homebrewing products business. In fact, the trend is in the opposite direction. As global malt concentrate companies have gotten bigger, their interest in hobby beermaking has declined. With it, their interest in ensuring the delivery of top-quality products has also declined. Even more unfortunate is that this trend has been applauded by far too many in the business, who should be more interested in providing you with top-quality products. Using undecipherable production codes, or worse, no identifiable markings of any kind (as is typical of malt concentrate sold in our industry in 55 gallon industrial drums), removes from the distribution network the burden of proper stock rotation and proper inventory control. No date stamping equals easier, sloppier business practices for far too many.

We at the Coopers Brewery want every experience you have with beermaking to be a quality, positive experience. That is why we date-stamp all of our beer kits with a “Best Before” date. This date is two-years from the date the beer kit was produced. We stamp all of our Coopers Brewery Unhopped Malt Extract with a “Produced On” date. This is configured as “day of year/year”. So, “253/05” means that that product was produced on the 253rd day of 2005. That’s our “Born On” date. We believe that using recognizable date stamps is a sign of our commitment to our products and to the hobby we love.

Because we want every experience you have with home beermaking to be a quality experience, we urge to only buy home beermaking products that are packaged with quality beermaking in mind. And look for the date. If there isn’t one, you don’t know how old that product is (irrespective of where it was made) or if the beer made from it will be what you were expecting. If it is a Coopers product, and it is past its “Best Before” date, or more than two years past its “Born On” date, please let us know. We’ll correct the situation to ensure that you get the best possible Coopers Brewery home beermaking products.

Understanding Brewing Sugars
"We at the Coopers Brewery want every experience you have with beermaking to be a quality, positive experience."
-Tom Heffernan
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