"Beer Code Secrets"
       This month column was written by Bob's friend
Frank S. Marino            

I just read the interesting new article from Jack Carson here on
BeerNexus entitled "
Old Beer is Stale Beer".  That got me to check
some bottles of brew that I put in my garage a while back.  Judging
by the dust on them " a while back" probably means more than a
year or two.

I immediately checked for the "born on" date but nothing was there.
A little offended I then took a quick look at the current beers in my
refrigerator and to my dismay saw that a goodly portion of them
didn't have one either.  

The sad news is that there is no law requiring a born on date for
beer.  This is especially irksome since there are now more bottles of
beer on the store wall than ever - more than 2,000 domestic brands
alone.  The born on date would certainly make it easier for both
stores and consumers to steer clear of the stale stuff.

Needless to say it's in the self interest of the brewers to remove their
old, deteriorating product from store shelves and they do just that.  
But how do they know the age of the beer and we the consumers
don't?  The answer is simple- many brewers imprint their bottle with
cryptic letters and numbers that distributors can translate. The
trouble is they look more like hieroglyphics to beer drinkers, and
most makers don't decipher them for consumers.

Just call me one good cryptographer -I cracked the basic code and
here it is.   Letters from A-M represent the month of the year. The
next four digits are the day and year the beer was first brewed, and
the last two letters are the state code where it was brewed.

Blue Point, a local favorite, uses a format that is similar to other
companies.  For example if you see the number 1551 the beer was
made on 155th day of the year while the next digit is the year itself.
If the numbers are followed by letters that shows the plant where the
product was made; other letters explain the product.  In a variation of
this Julian code some brewers put the year first, then the number of
the day of the year the beer was brewed.

As you'd expect there are variations.  Anchor, one of my favorite
brewers uses a complex coded three-character bottling date. The
first number is the last digit of the year. The next letter is the month
and the last character is the day. The months are coded: J = Jan, F
= Feb, M = Mar, A = Apr, Y = May, U = Jun L = Jul, G = Aug, S = Sep,
O = Oct, N = Nov, D = DecThe days 1-26 are coded A-Z while days
27-31 are coded with the last digit of the day.

Try it out on your next visit to your local beer store.  I suggest you go
right to the discount section and you'll see just why that beer is a
close out special.  

If all this seems a bit confusing and unnecessary you might consider
signing a
petition for a federal requiring a simple born on date for
American beers though don't hold your breath expecting a change.

Hey Bob, writing the column was fun.  Many thanks for giving me the
opportunity.  Hope your readers enjoyed it!

BeerNexus proudly presents

Bob Montemurro
"the ombudsman of beer"

Bob and Friends Speak of Beer......
My thanks to Frank for this month's
column. See you next time to
"speak about beer".
Bob Montemurro
Bob and Friends
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