A beer that tells you when to drink it?
Sure, some breweries have (often small, cryptic, or hard to find) best by dates on their beers, but Stone Brewing Co. in San Diego, California brought the issue of freshness to the forefront when it slapped an enjoy by date in huge numbers right on the front of a bottle of its Enjoy By IPA.
And get this, it was within a mere 5 weeks of production!
So, why should certain beers be consumed so quickly?
The aromatic and flavor compounds of hops, the cone-like flowers from the Humulus lupulus plant that give pale ales and IPAs their distinct characteristics, have quite a short shelf life. Chemically, these essential oils are said to be very volatile, meaning they can quickly dissipate with exposure to light or oxygen over time.
As most beer drinkers today have had their palates tuned towards hops – easily rolling descriptors like tropical, floral, earthy, or grassy off their tongues as they taste them – an instruction to drink a beer in time to enjoy these ephemeral essences at their best is one that is well received.
First introduced by Stone Brewing Co. three-and-a-half years ago, short-shelf life beers are great idea for drinkers as they highlight the importance of consuming hop-forward beers when they are fresh.
Short-dated beer may pose a problem for Stone as a brewery, however, if consumers aren’t used to drinking their beer this quickly. If retailers are unable to move the product from their store shelves, it will pass its enjoy by date and be considered waste.
So how can a brewery ensure its short-labeled beer is enjoyed within its short shelf life?
Stone worked with distributors across the country to get this beer on shelf as quickly as possible and to reclaim any bottles that passed their front-of-bottle best by dates to ensure that consumers could only purchase fresh, top quality products.
There’s even a section of the Stone website where past bottles of Enjoy By can be reported by conscious consumers.
Eye-catching and educational, Stone’s Enjoy By IPA has helped bring freshness to the forefront of beer quality conversations. With three dozen iterations over the last three-and-a-half years, consumers have become more aware of the fragile nature of hop aroma and flavor.
If you drink it a day or two past its best by date, will all be lost? Of course not.
But, why wait? There’s no time like the present to enjoy!
Image source: Thumbnail, Bottle, Full size by Natalya Watson