When we started bottling our beer back in April this year we decided to put just three months on all of our bottles, expressing our desire for fresh consumption with a ‘Most Enjoyable Before’ date. Back then we were only in the business of brewing pretty light hoppy beer, very much at its best drank fresh, and being new to reasonably bright bottling and with a brand new machine and bright beer tank set up, we played things pretty safe.
Finally now, 5 months into bottling our beer, we’re switching to something we’re much happier with all round. As much as a 3 month ‘Most Enjoyable Before’ date suits us and our freshness objectives for our hoppier beer, we recognise it doesn’t accurately reflect the shelf life of more yeast or malt focused beer. Because most people want what is normal, and normal in this era means at least 6 months, and preferably 12 months on bottled beer, a 3 month date places pressure on some of our wholesale customers too. We’ve also found and heard that our ‘Most Enjoyable Before’ date is being read like a Use By, which is unfortunate.
At this point in time we don’t bottle condition any 330ml bottles, use processing aids or clarification agents (other than vegan finings), nor do we filter, centrifuge, or pasteurise our beer, a lot of which is the norm in the US and larger UK breweries to form the backbone of a longer shelf life and more stable bottled beer. To give some of our customers the information they want about how fresh our bottled beer is, and to give the rest of our customers comfort that our beer is indeed still safe to drink, we’re really happy to switch to a two date format – Bottled DDMMYY, and BBE MMYY. The BBE will change according to the style and strength, but the Bottled on date will always let those of you know just how fresh our beer is, and just when each beer reaches its best.