The independent consumer guide to beer product dating.
I don't know about the rest of the United States, but where I grew up in Michigan, Canadian beer has acquired a near-mythological reputation as better than the domestic stuff. (Perhaps more importantly, it's got a reputation as more available, since the legal drinking age in Canada is three years lower than in Michigan, and Canadian bartenders aren't known for carding people.) That means everybody I grew up with heads straight for this page when I tell them about BeerDates.com. I hope they're not too underwhelmed.
Most Canadian breweries use three-character product date of a type seldom seen on U.S. beers. The first character is a single letter, indicating the month the beer was brewed, ("A" is January, "B" is February, and so on, except the breweries skip "I", so the last four months of the year are J, K, L, and M). The next two characters are the day of the month. Several breweries add a fourth digit to indicate the year.
"Canadian-style" product dates are almost always brewing dates. Today is J01.
Having lived near the U.S./Canadian border (very near the border -- Canada would be within walking distant if there wasn't a river in the way), I got to see a lot of domestic Canadian bottles -- that is, Canadian beers meant to be sold in Canada, not the U.S. Judging from the bottles and cans I've seen, many Canadian brewers don't always put these production codes on their domestic products. Go figure.
For more general information about Canadian breweries, try The Real Beer Page's Canadian Beer Index.
The brewers of Warthog Ale do not put product dates on their beers.
Brick appears to be using Canadian-style product dating, placed on the shoulder of the bottle. (Brick brews the Celis Beers sold in Canada.)
Canada Coolers do not have product dates. The Canada Cooler Company's manufacturer number is 63657.
The makers of Kokanee beer appear to use a typical Canadian-style brewing date, stamped on the bottom of cans.
Entry added 12 July 1998. The beers of Keith's Brewery have a typical Canadian-style brewing date at the beginning of their production codes.
Labatt uses the "Canadian style" of bottling dates.
Rather than stamping the bottle neck, Labatt dates its bottled beer with a white-ink stamp near the lower left corner of the bottle labels. Boxes are stamped in a white rectangle on one of the thin sides.
Cartons are stamped in the upper right corner of the long side (cartons sold in Canada use smaller print than the "International" packaging). Cartons used to have a second date on the bottom (in varying, but obvious formats) -- this was not the bottling date. I suspect it's a printing date for the carton itself. Sometimes this second date is close to the real bottling date, sometimes it's not.
I actually e-mailed Labatt once, asking for an explanation of their product codes, and received an evasive answer.
Labatt's manufacturer number is 62067.
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Back when they were just the "Lakeport Brewing Corporation", I didn't see any dates on their bottles. I don't know anything about them since then.
Molson uses the the MDDY version of Canadian-style bottling dates -- today is J014. Although individual packages sold in the United States don't mention beer freshness or dating, the cartons holding 4 6-packs do say ROTATE STOCK TO ENSURE QUALITY AND FRESHNESS inside the carton.
In 1996, Molson announced it was switching to freshness dating, and advocated a 110-day lifespan for its products. I have received a strange e-mail from "Shannon and Rob" informing me that Molson now uses the new system in Canada. I have not (yet?) encountered this new system in the United States.
Using the new system, Molson products dated before 14MAY14 are past date. (Using the old system, beer 110 days old is stamped E144.) Oddly enough, I've never seen a bottle of Molson Brandor with any product date. Doesn't malt liquor count?
Molson lists its brands on its web site.
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Canada's third-largest brewery uses Canadian-style bottling dates. Their manufacturer number is 72311.
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Cans of Northern Ale have a 4-digit Canadian-style canning date.
Canada's largest microbrewery, appears to put stamp MDDY brewing date on its boxes, but a Canadian-style MDD date on the lower rear bottle labels.
BeerDates.com is the independent consumer guide to beer product dating. It is not owned, operated, affiliated with, or endorsed by any brewery or brewing company. In other words, if you want to send e-mail to a beer company, don't send it to me. "Canada Coolers" is a registered trademark of the Canada Coolers Company. The phrase "Ice Beer" is a trademark of Labatt Breweries, Ltd.http://beerdates.com/Canada.html © 1996.pl-2014 Michael Bauser