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.