There’s a great article out from the Wall Street Journal entitled The Search For Fresh Beer highlighting the secret codes some brewers use to hide the beers expiration date. The article is fairly straight forward, but I wanted to highlight this bit:
Why make it so complicated? Most brewers don’t really want consumers to know when their beer was made. “We believe in competing on the basis of the taste of our beer, not its age,” says Fritz Maytag, owner of Anchor Brewing in San Francisco. The Anchor Steam brewer, which uses cryptic three-character codes like “5NV,” says consumers can look for the key on the Web. “We don’t go out of our way to tell everyone how old it is.”
To tell how old Anchor Beer is, note the three character code. Let’s say 5NV.
The first number is the last digit of the year. In our example above, it would mean the beer was made in 2005.
The second character correlates with the month it was created. J = Jan, F = Feb, M = Mar, A = Apr, Y = May, U = Jun L = Jul, G = Aug, S = Sep, O = Oct, N = Nov, D = Dec. In our case, it means November.
The final character is the day of the month. Days 1-26 are coded A-Z while days 27-31 are coded with the last digit of the day. In our example, that would mean the twenty second. Our code 5NV means that the Anchor beer was made on November 22, 2005. If the Code was 6J1, it would mean the beer was made on January 31, 2006.
There, that wasn’t so hard, was it Mr. Maytag?
More on beer expiration dates later.