The independent consumer guide to beer product dating.
The Irish Republic

No Irish Drunk jokes; I have friends named Murphy, after all.

For starters, there seem to be a lot of imitation Irish beers in the United States. Let's get those out of our way, shall we?

Killian's Irish Lagers use Coors' expiration dates. Mickey's Malt Liquor uses G. Heilman's expiration dates.

Now then. Here are my best shots at the dating systems used by a few breweries in the Republic of Eire. (Breweries in Northern Ireland will be placed on Beer Dies! in the United Kingdom, should I ever actually discover such a brewery.) Be warned that this page involved more guessing than any other page in, and at least one entry is the direct result of sleep deprivation. And yet, I'm the best guess you've got.

As non-domestic breweries, all companies on this page are assumed to recommend a one year shelf life, until proven otherwise. Also note that dates on this page are calculated from Greenwich Mean Time.

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Biddey Early Brewery
(Inagh, Ennis, County Claire, Ireland)

Entry added 6 May 2002. Biddy Ales use a notched date (month and year) labeled "BEST IF PURCHASED BEFORE DATE NOTCHED".

Biddy Brewery's manufacturer number is 391503.

Carlow Brewing Company
(Carlow, Ireland)

Entry added 4 July 2002. This information comes straight from a Carlow executive who e-mailed

Carlow Brewing Company use two types of labels to indicate the best by date. Either stamped on the top of the bottle cap which is clearly visable or a tear in the label which clearly indicates the month and year.

Carlow's brand portfolio is Curim Gold Wheat Beer, O'Hara's Celtic Stout, and Molings Tradtional Red Ale.

Lady's Well Brewery
(Cork, Ireland)

Entry added 12 July 1998. The Murphy's Irish Ale sold in the United States is imported by Heineken, and has a Heineken-style production date stamped in the lower left area of the rear label.

The manufacturer number on Murphy's Irish Ale is 02725.

Guinness PLC
(Dublin, Ireland)

Guinness frustrated me for months with bizarre product codes like 690821 until, in a fit of sleep-deprived insight, I realized they're using a DDMMYY bottling date, written backwards. The date is stamped on the back label of bottles. Today is 021042.

The Guinness FAQt and Folklore page discusses some of the other numbers that appear on Guinness labels, if you're interested. I actually think the page is more informative than Guinness' official site.

Guinness products sold in the U.S. include Guiness Extra Stout, Harp Lager, and Kaliber non-alcoholic malt beverage. Guinness' manufacturer number is 83820.

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R.A. Baily & Company
(Dublin, Ireland)

Did you know that "Irish cream liquors" can spoil? I didn't until I noticed that recent bottles of Baily's Original Irish Cream now have an expiration date on their back labels in the format of BEST TASTE BEFORE JAN98. If you have any bottles of Irish cream liquor that have been sitting around for more than two years, you probably want to get rid of them.

I have actually seen a bottle of Irish cream liquor that spoiled (somebody at work left a bottle with a cracked cap sitting on a shelf in the storeroom for a year), and it was pretty scary -- the cream had congealed into disgusting white chunks that bobbed about in the bottle. Ick.

Baily's is the top-selling Irish cream liquor in the United States, and the only one I know of that puts expiration dates on their product. R.A. Bailey's manufacturer number is 86767.

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