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Institute for Brewing Studies endorses legible freshness dating.

Almost every sizeable world brewer stamps a freshness date on packages of beer, but few until now have bothered to make these codes decipherable for consumers.

Legible freshness dating has been embraced by a few high-profile U.S. micro- and contract brewers. Despite this example, most of the industry, including the major brewers, have continued to code their dates. And many U.S. micros haven't dated their beer at all.

The tide may be turning, however. August Busch IV has stated that A-B is looking at the idea of legible dating, and now the Institute for Brewing Studies has come out in favor of readable dates.

The IBS endorsement reads: "The Institute of Brewing Studies, as a non-profit educational association, supports the use of consumer readable freshness dating within the craft-brewing industry and is committed to disseminating information on how to achieve industry-wide participation."

In an article in the January-February edition of New Brewer, IBS director Dave Edgar wrote, "By putting readable freshness dates on their packages, breweries will be encouraging wholesalers and retailers to become aware of the perishability of craft-brewed beer.

"In addition," Edgar continued, "placing a consumer readable date on beer bottles ultimately benefits the brewery because it reduces the chances of a customer purchasing product that no longer tastes like what the brewmaster intended...If a consumer develops a negative impression of one particular [micro] brand, it reflects negatively on the entire craft-brewed category."

The necessity for the IBS stance was confirmed by another article in the same issue of New Brewer, titled "An Analysis of Specialty Beers" by Virginia Thomas.

For the purposes of the article, New Brewer staff members purchased six-packs of beer from 14 different breweries. The beers were sent to the Siebel Institute in Chicago for analysis, and the analysis published in New Brewer.

Some of the brewers whose beer was tested were disturbed by the results, and so New Brewer refrained from naming the beers tested. Several of the brewers involved blamed distribution problems: some of the brands were never authorized for distribution in the areas they were purchased, and some of the beer tested was more than a year old.

New Brewer noted that "Certainly packaging seems to be a major weakness in ensuring consumers a quality beer" and the magazine said that, after the analysis, "Some [of the microbrewers involved] began taking a serious look at dating their bottles."

New Brewer said that it would repeat the experiment in 1995.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:Feb 20, 1995
Words:411
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