German Beer Expiration Dates

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I'm aware the German breweries are putting expiration dates on their
beer sold in Germany.  I only see the dates on a few brands here in
the Chicago area.  Those are Paulaner, Hacker-Pschorr, and Salvator.
They show the expiration date in MM.YY format on the lower right of
the front label.

Are the other brands of German beer using something different that I
just haven't noticed yet or are they just not showing the dates on
products marketed to the US?

Also tonight I saw 3 six-packs of Paulaner Octoberfest with the date
06.04.  On closer inspection, in gold letters the label read
"Produced:" just above the date.  I have never heard of them dating
beer with the production date.  I was suspicious and didn't buy it. It
looked to me like someone may have altered the label to try to
convince customers that this was new 2004 production.  Has anyone else
seen this or does anyone know whether Paulaner is switching to the
produced date instead of expiration date?

I see lots of expired German beer on the shelves here in Chicagoland.
One nearby Famous Liquors store routinely stocks their shelves with
Hacker-Pschorr's Edelhell that has the expiration date of 06.03.  It's
priced at $9.49 for the six-pack!  Almost all of the German beers that
I can find dates on in that store are expired.  Most expired months,
if not a year or more, ago.  It's made me very reluctant to buy German
beer without visible expiration dates.  I've had a couple of bad
experiences with freshness.

Re: German Beer Expiration Dates
Sea D. Salmon wrote:
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The only German beer I regularly by is Jever.  It recently (well, last
year or so...) started showing up in cardboard boxes clearly marked with
an expiration date (and so getting rid of the open plastic cases that
often insured skunking).  The expiration date is also on the label (but
I never buy green glass bottled beer by the bottle or six pack, so I
need a clear date on the cardboard shell).
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I see many micros in NJ from distant states where there is a blank spot
on the label for a date, but no stamp.  It happens so often that I
assume the local distributor is able to request "no date code" so he can
sell old beer without "pains in the asses" like us.
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I think there is a backlash against the dating of beer by retailers and
distributors.  Show them an old bottle of US industrial lager with
sediment and they'll say it's yeast.  The tiny (but growing) number of
beers that CAN improve with age are used to justify selling all old beer
(and, hey, I admit some interesting finds and sales...).  I've seen
retailers drag out last year's Saranac Christmas cases and when I called
them on it they say beer stays good for "a couple of years"....

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My current annoyance is with Dogfish Head and their "month only" notched
dates.  Last month I was looking for some fresh 60 Minute Ale and all
the dates were "03" (almost 6 months old, kinda pushing it), then I
found an "09"- great!  "Wait a minute, it's only August..."  I'd buy a
LOT more Dogfish Head if their dates were as nice and clear as Victory's.

Another case:  A few friends and I went down to Canal's outside Trenton
and split a 10 case or so purchase.  We needed a clerk to climb the huge
racks to pull down a case of Acme IPA that was on the 3rd level, stacked
4 or 5 high (ie., maybe 20' up).  Tasted great.  Several weeks later I
stopped by and bought the next case down.  Horrible!  The date code was
confusing, there was an "04" in it but, as the brewer eventually told
me, that was an April (4th month) 2003 case. (So, Canal's had stacked
fresh beer- the first purchase- on top of old beer.)

Unfortunately, I'd dumped the case in the 2 weeks it took them to
respond to my inquiry, they'd said they'd try to get the distributor to
"exchange" it but I never heard back from them.

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