Brewer's Blog

Catastrophic Failure and New Date Coded Cases

Friday, February 18, 2011

For those of you who haven't heard, we had a batch of St. James Pale Ale that decided it would give us some trouble during fermentation and make life generally miserable.  We pulled the pin and dumped the whole 4000L. rather than make our St. James fans suffer the unbearable horrors at the drinking of this off-spec beer.

This is the first time in Half Pints' history that we've decided to dump an entire batch cause it didn't meet our specifications, and rather than hide that fact away and let you all wonder why the hell you can't find the beer on the shelf or at your favourite local pub, we wanted everyone to know why.

So there you go.  Quality not quantity - says it right there on the box, it's not just lip service.  It tasted nasty, so we dumped it.

Moving on...
On that subject, it just so happens that at the same time, we've been working on a method of batch tracking and labelling our cases.  This week, we started labelling all the 6 packs that are coming off the bottling line with a "bottled on date" in a clearly legible form.  This way, real beer lovers can see clearly when their beer was bottled.

Look for the stickers on the bottom left of the beer description panel.

For example, a St. James Pale Ale 6 pack labelled with this sticker:

15.02 pkg1

was bottled on:

15th February - 1st tank of the day
2011 - Batch #246

Over the next couple of weeks as the stock is depleted at stores, you'll see these new labeled cases popping up.

All this begs the question: why we haven't decided to put a best before date on our beer?

Ideal storage conditions are dark, cold, free from vibrations and free of wild temperature swings.  So basically, a fridge.  When was the last time you went blindfolded and shopped for beer in a walk in cooler?  My last venture was in Edmonton at Sherbrooke Liquors, but Jim there was at least kind enough to turn on the lights for me.  That's one store out of 1500 I've been to over the last 18 years - not exactly great odds there.

Simply put, we have no control over how our beer is treated out in the trade.  Besides, no one can predict how quickly any beer would go off because every store treats beer differently.  And, rather than add sulphites, sorbates and subject our beer to the evils of micro filtration, our method has always been to brew great beer first.

Cause in the end, brewing great beer is what it's all about.  No more, no less.

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