Do you remember when we didn’t bat an eyelid over drinking an IPA six months after production? Those were simpler times. A time when bars didn’t advertise packaging dates of the beers on tap and I never felt the need to ask. A time when we didn’t need to look for the date it was canned or work backwards from the “Best Before” date:
“So it’s six months on Cannonball… February… January… December … November… About two months old. Great, I can drink that without dying”
Or a time when you didn’t come across as a pompous twat with your father in law:
“Yeah, you don’t want to be drinking IPA’s any more than three months after production really. Enjoy the Foie Gras too; I fattened the duck myself”
Or those that show-off on twitter when they drink the beer two months after you:
“Just opened mine. Tastes awesome. You’re such a fool. Why couldn’t you wait? My tastebuds thank me. Yours must hate you for drinking that awful swill. Let them join me with my superior willpower”
For the record, I totally get it by the way. I tend to drink an IPA as fresh as possible and I may hold one back. Then again, I may not bother. When you produce something like a food product you want people to taste it how you meant it to taste, and especially when storage has a greater affect on this product you want to reduce the amount of “damage” an end user can cause to it. I was at a Meet the Brewer with Adam from Against the Grain a few years ago and he even said their brettanomyces fermented beers are to be had “fresh” as this is how they designed it.
Another major factor relates to the amount of hops that are going into modern IPA’s nowadays. Hitting levels of 20 – 30 grams per litre; as a drinker, the reduction over time in the hoppy aroma are going to be much more apparent. Late hop additions, whether added in the kettle or fermenter are to add aroma which fades quicker than the bitterness created by hop additions during the boil. As IPA’s have become more about aroma, the brewer wants you to get that, and not the taste of stale hops.
Is it a fad? Not at all. Creativity improves quality in a vibrant market and sticking to your guns on when a beer should be drunk, controlling the end user, can only work to strengthen that claim to quality.
Do some breweries go a tad far with it? maybe so. The above beer tasted great last night. But if they can educate and sell a whole batch before the BBE date then good for them.
Following Boak and Bailey’s poem I decided to write a poem about things I remember:
Remember Goose Island
Remember Camden Town
Remember Hazy DIPAs
Remember Black IPAs
Remember Pastry Stouts
Remember Barleywine is Life
Remember the Ice Man Pour
Remember the £13.40 pint
Remember the “Beer for Her”
Remember the queues at Beavertown Extravaganza
Remember how you felt when you heard David had died
Remember how you felt when you heard John had died
Remember how you felt when you heard Lou had died
Remember how you felt when you heard Cloudwater Cask died
Remember when people poured away all their Wicked Weed
Remember when people questioned whether the girl in the Playstation advert really had a head that shape
Remember when people boycotted IMBC
Remember when people decided to vote Leave