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General Category => Commercial Beer Reviews => Topic started by: jmwrightmegg on June 21, 2013, 02:39:07 AM

Title: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: jmwrightmegg on June 21, 2013, 02:39:07 AM
I am a retailer/restaurateur. Also a home brewer and beer freak. Anyway, I just received a case of an unnamed canned West Coast IPA from a well-known San Francisco Bay Area brewery. It came through an unknowledgeable distributor. The case said "canned on 3/1/13. Today is 6/20. I have always tried to get my IPA's delivered by 90 days from bottling at the maximum. How do you guys feel about this? If you saw a date of 110 days past bottling on a West Coast IPA, known for typical citrusy fresh hops and dry hopping, would you hesitate before buying it? Does my 90 day rule make sense?
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: deepsouth on June 21, 2013, 02:51:41 AM
i like your rule, and even coming from a beer starved state, i abide.  i don't consider it a disservice to the good people of mississippi because there are so few options regardless of date, but if i lived in an area where fresh ipa was easy to find, i'd think differently.  i'm sure some will disagree with me on this.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: mabrungard on June 21, 2013, 12:25:50 PM
It may not be optimal, but its probably still good.  I just realized that I brought back two bombers from the Seattle NHC.  I looked at the bottles and noticed that they were labeled 'Side A IPA' and were from Alaskan Brewing.  So, they are about a year old.  I popped one open and it was a very nice IPA.  Definitely worth drinking.

Age is not a friend to hop flavor and aroma, but the resulting beer is likely to have some of the original character.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: HoosierBrew on June 21, 2013, 12:36:06 PM
I think it's great that you make the effort to get the freshest IPA, as hop character fades fairly quickly. I agree that a slightly older IPA (if it's a good one) can still be good, but it's just not the same as getting it fresh.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on June 21, 2013, 12:42:35 PM
Stored cold? (shelf AND back room are cold) - 3 months max

Stored warm? 60 days max

No code, no buy.

Pick from the back, and on any shelf but the top (unless they are cans, of course).

If nothing is fresh - go for the RIS or sour beer.

These are just my constraints when shopping.

There are a LOT of hoppy beers on the shelf these days. Why spend cash on something that's not super fresh?
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: HoosierBrew on June 21, 2013, 01:09:44 PM
But to answer your question , no I would buy a different IPA than one that was 110 days post-bottling.  As Kyle said, there are so many hoppy beers in a given store that we have the luxury of freshness these days.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: phillamb168 on June 21, 2013, 01:42:59 PM
I am just blown away by this thread. The earliest we get Torpedo is 6 months after bottling. It's, seriously, totally great and absolutely drinkable. If you don't wanna sell that beer that was bottled a little over _three months ago_ feel free to send it to me, I'll pay your postage.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: jamminbrew on June 21, 2013, 02:05:58 PM
If you choose to sell it, maybe offer the beer at a slightly discounted rate?
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: cornershot on June 21, 2013, 02:12:44 PM
Uh....taste it
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: erockrph on June 21, 2013, 02:13:12 PM
I've seen some IPA's stand the test of time better than others, both homebrewed and commercial. Storage definitely makes a difference. In my own personal experience, I find that my IPA's that rely heavily on FWH and a long hop stand tend to hold their flavor and aroma longer than those without. I wonder if that translates on the commercial scale to beers that use a lot of whirlpool hopping.

To the OP's question - if I was confident that said brew was stored cold I think I'd be OK with that dating if I knew I'd be able to turn it around very quickly. If there was any question on the storage, then I'd pass.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: jeffy on June 21, 2013, 03:12:46 PM
The fact that is canned is a good sign that it could be fine.  I also say that you should taste it, perhaps find some fresher samples and do a comparison.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: kylekohlmorgen on June 21, 2013, 04:15:58 PM
I am just blown away by this thread. The earliest we get Torpedo is 6 months after bottling. It's, seriously, totally great and absolutely drinkable. If you don't wanna sell that beer that was bottled a little over _three months ago_ feel free to send it to me, I'll pay your postage.

ISO: Cantillon

FT: Fresh IPA
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: bluesman on June 21, 2013, 04:30:21 PM
Stored cold? (shelf AND back room are cold) - 3 months max

Stored warm? 60 days max

No code, no buy.

+1

Another thing to consider is the packaging process that the brewery uses. Some breweries have a tighter process than others. Unfortunately, it's hard to measure this variable unless you know a brewer or toured the said brewery. Cans hold up better than bottles when it comes to oxygen infiltration post packing.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: The Professor on June 21, 2013, 05:32:58 PM
I am just blown away by this thread. The earliest we get Torpedo is 6 months after bottling. It's, seriously, totally great and absolutely drinkable. If you don't wanna sell that beer that was bottled a little over _three months ago_ feel free to send it to me, I'll pay your postage.

LOL.  I'm pretty amused by this as well.
A good IPA should be perfectly fine at three months.  An extraordinarily well made one can  be wonderful long after that.
It's true that some lovers of so called "American IPA" are fresh-obsessed, but it doesn't mean that those beers are automatically 'over the hill' after a few months.  In fact, the fresh obsession is  certainly a good thing for the brewers since they don't have to tie up tank space with traditional aging, and modern palates have come to accept...even demand...the end result of quick turnaround.
Quite a few people I know actually prefer their IPAs with a bit more time on them (again, this assumes that they're well made...some are simply  not). 

Not that I'm that much of a stickler for 'authenticity'  but IPA was, after all,  originally an aged style (aka, 'stock ale') to begin with.  I rarely drink my homebrewed IPA any younger than 8 months;  it's brewed with that factor in mind, and after the long aging it's hoppier and more aromatic than any modern commercial one I've yet tried.

I guess in the end, different folks look for different things in their favorite beers.  And the choice these days is unprecedented.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: deepsouth on June 21, 2013, 06:03:27 PM


Not that I'm that much of a stickler for 'authenticity'  but IPA was, after all,  originally an aged style (aka, 'stock ale') to begin with.  I rarely drink my homebrewed IPA any younger than 8 months;  it's brewed with that factor in mind, and after the long aging it's hoppier and more aromatic than any modern commercial one I've yet tried.


Professor, you have been brewing almost longer than i have been alive, so i yield to your knowledge.  do you care to share your secret to having a quality ipa that can run out longer than six months?

genuine interest here.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: hoodie on June 21, 2013, 06:11:20 PM
IMO. The more caramel malt, the worse it ages. I can't stand that syrupy sweet flavor that develops after the hop flavor fades. West Coast IPA has alot of malt flavor, but also alot of hops. I personally wouldn't but it that old, only because I know how good it is FRESH.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: bucknut on June 21, 2013, 06:45:22 PM
I agree with the three month for an ipa, after that I'm not going to spend my money on it. Will it still be good? Sure, probably, but it won't be as the brewer intended it to taste/smell. Ask yourself, I'm I going to buy a beer called "Torpedo" that's 4-6 mos old and expect it to taste like it did when it was fresh, no. If you do it's your own choice and your willing to forgo what the brewery wanted this beer to taste/smell like, then it's all on you. If your amused by this then I guess I'm glad to have been of some amusement for ya.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: denny on June 21, 2013, 07:10:54 PM

Professor, you have been brewing almost longer than i have been alive, so i yield to your knowledge.  do you care to share your secret to having a quality ipa that can run out longer than six months?

genuine interest here.

It all comes down to your personal tastes and preferences.  I've had a lot of IPAs that were older than 6 months and still tasted great.  But my own preference is for IPA "styles" that are ready to drink when they're younger.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: bierkieser on June 21, 2013, 07:25:16 PM

Professor, you have been brewing almost longer than i have been alive, so i yield to your knowledge.  do you care to share your secret to having a quality ipa that can run out longer than six months?

genuine interest here.

It all comes down to your personal tastes and preferences.  I've had a lot of IPAs that were older than 6 months and still tasted great.  But my own preference is for IPA "styles" that are ready to drink when they're younger.

This is a crazy question... The IPA was created to keep beer "fresh" on the long trip from the UK to India for the troops there.  So the whole reason for the style was for it to
survive long periods of time.  However, the style in America has become a completely different animal.  We are obsessed with the hop aroma and flavor (And I am firmly intrenched
in the 'WE' in this sentence) which dissipates with time.  So is the beer OK... without a doubt it is!  Is it as flavorful and aromatic as the brewer intended... probably not.

I say ask for a taste.  You are the one serving it.  If it tastes OK to you, then by all means let it fly.  If you are not satisfied with the taste, then pass. 
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: deepsouth on June 21, 2013, 09:00:11 PM

Professor, you have been brewing almost longer than i have been alive, so i yield to your knowledge.  do you care to share your secret to having a quality ipa that can run out longer than six months?

genuine interest here.

It all comes down to your personal tastes and preferences.  I've had a lot of IPAs that were older than 6 months and still tasted great.  But my own preference is for IPA "styles" that are ready to drink when they're younger.

This is a crazy question... The IPA was created to keep beer "fresh" on the long trip from the UK to India for the troops there.  So the whole reason for the style was for it to
survive long periods of time.  However, the style in America has become a completely different animal.  We are obsessed with the hop aroma and flavor (And I am firmly intrenched
in the 'WE' in this sentence) which dissipates with time.  So is the beer OK... without a doubt it is!  Is it as flavorful and aromatic as the brewer intended... probably not.

I say ask for a taste.  You are the one serving it.  If it tastes OK to you, then by all means let it fly.  If you are not satisfied with the taste, then pass. 


i just didn't know if i was missing some sort of technique that would make a beer more hoppy than a commercial counterpart six months after bottling.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: deepsouth on June 21, 2013, 09:01:08 PM

Professor, you have been brewing almost longer than i have been alive, so i yield to your knowledge.  do you care to share your secret to having a quality ipa that can run out longer than six months?

genuine interest here.

It all comes down to your personal tastes and preferences.  I've had a lot of IPAs that were older than 6 months and still tasted great.  But my own preference is for IPA "styles" that are ready to drink when they're younger.


surely.  i had a pal send me a six month old pliny the elder because he wasn't going to drink it and it was before you could get an ipa in the state of mississippi.  it was good, but it wasn't PtE.
Title: Re: How old is too old to buy an IPA?
Post by: a10t2 on June 21, 2013, 11:04:13 PM
This is a crazy question... The IPA was created to keep beer "fresh" on the long trip from the UK to India for the troops there.  So the whole reason for the style was for it to survive long periods of time.

That story has been thoroughly debunked, but you're right to say that the early IPAs would have been aged for long periods of time relative to what we consider normal now.

In this case, though, the consumer will undoubtedly have a fresher example in mind when they purchase the beer. JM, unless you're able to open one and taste it next to a fresher can (and it passes the test), I would return it.