Calls to Burke Distributing, which handles Boulevard sales in metro Boston, were unreturned. I asked Jenny Pfäfflin of beer-education pioneer just how much it matters, and she told me the following: “Packaged pasteurized beer that’s been taken care of (i.e., refrigerated and kept out of direct light) can keep for up to 6 months, but you may see flavor degradation in as few as 90 days.
For IPAs, you may experience a drop-off in hop aroma by the 90-day point; for a beer style like a wee heavy or an import lager, it will probably be fine at 6 months.” With all due to respect to Pfäfflin, who knows more about beer than I know about spelling my own name, I’d say that those guidelines are, if anything, on the patient side.
Budweiser should be forever applauded for their decision to introduce “born-on dates” to their retail packaging in the mid-90s.
Nearly every beer produced gets demonstrably worse as it ages, and while Samuel Adams gets credit for freshness dating their beer as far back as the mid-80s, it wasn’t until AB followed suit that freshness became a front-and-center issue that even casual drinkers began to notice.
One of Portland, Maine’s, new hoppy ale darlings told me last year that his beers are best between their 4th and 6th days out of the tank.
Now, that guy’s clearly nuts, and I wish I could remember what he claimed undermined the first three days—a temperature issue, perhaps?
America’s 4,200 breweries produce at least 10 times that many different beers each year, and while not all of them hit retail distribution, more than enough do to fill our oversubscribed beer aisles with way too many once-promising bottles that are long past their prime. It’s hard for newer and smaller operations to predict demand, and local distributors and retailers are eager to give their neighbors a shot, which can lead to shelves full of IPAs with low carbon footprints but high dust accumulations.
The typical craft beer aficionado despises Anheuser-Busch In Bev as much as she adores her Russian River Brewing hoodie and her golden retrievers, Simcoe and Sierra, and while I tend to agree from a flavor perspective, I still hold one huge soft spot for the world’s largest beer conglomerate.
And to be honest, there aren’t really any hidden downsides. But if there’s one thing that inches my beer research ever so slightly closer to “job” than “hobby,” it’s the constant pressure to try new things.
Of course it’s fun to see what’s out there, and if I didn’t like to stretch my tongue as far as possible I’d have opted for the ditch-digging life that the guidance counselors recommended, but it’s still a bit stressful to make so many of my beer choices based on their potential to lead to a good story rather than simply a good time.
But even though the quest for novelty complicates my beer life, it ultimately enriches it.
Breweries are legally mandated to contract third-party distributors to sell their beer to retail stores and bars.
Once this Reverb left its Missouri birthplace sometime in late 2013, Boulevard had very little influence over where it ended up—or when it got there.Peter Mc Cann, Wine and Beer Buyer at Whole Foods Market of Greater Boston, could only tell me that it was “unusual to find something that far out of code” and that he “had no idea how it happened.” He was apologetic and concerned, and I have no doubt he’ll rectify the situation.