The independent consumer guide to beer product dating.
I'm a big fan of Mexico. It's got lots of pretty girls on television, lots of tequila in the bars, and the president wears cowboy boots with his tuxedo. How can you not love a country like that?
Mexican beers, however, can be very mysterious. Nearly every one I've encountered either seems to skip product dating entirely, or use a production code that I can't crack. It took three years of living in a border state to make some progress on one brewery, but at least BeerDates.com can finally give Mexico its long-overdue recognition as one the great beer-loving nations of North America.
Entry added 11 June 2002. Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is the third-largest brewry in Mexico, and a subsidiary of FEMSA, the largest beverage company in the country. Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma's brands are Carta Blanca, Tecate, Tecate Light, Superior, Sol, Dos Equis Lager, Dos Equis Ambar, Indio, Bohemia and Noche Buena.
Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma puts a 12-character production code on upper left corner of the front bottle label, the bottom of the can, and on the long side of box. My current and best theory is that the last six characters of this code are a bottling date in DDMM*Y format. (Yes, the fifth character is always an asterisk.) Today, for example, is [an error occurred while processing this directive]. Based on the shipping patterns I'm seeing, Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is giving its beers a shelf life of at least three months.
I know that's by far the craziest coding scheme I've included in BeerDates.com, and it will probably be a controversial theory. To help avoid really dumb questions (and encourage good ones), here are some Dos Equis production codes I collected in the first half of 2002, the dates I collected those codes from boxes, and the reasoning behind my theory.
|20 Jan 2002||K0835C0410*1|
|5 Mar 2002||K0335C0901*2|
|19 Apr 2002||K2123C2502*2|
|4 May 2002||K2150C2502*2|
|20 May 2002||K2130C2502*2|
|10 Jun 2002||K1902C0604*2|
The two letters (K and C) never change, so we can dismiss them (as part of the date) right away.
The two block of four numbers look promising, but none of the usual combinations (MMDD, DDMM, DDDY, and YDDD) make sense in the first block, unless we allow the possibility that I'm looking at seven-year-old beer.
Likewise, the number sequences in the second block are incompatible with MMDD, DDDY, and YDDD dates. DDMM would make sense, however, creating a sequence where the beer I examined in January was brewed October 4, and the beer I examined in June was brewed April 6. The month-long sequence of 2502 (February 25) beers in April and May might seem long, but it's not unusual for imported beers. They tend to make larger and less frequent shipments to their distributors.
The last digit only changed once, but it changed at exactly the right time to suggest it's a year date.
BeerDates.com would like to give a special thanks to my friends Jason and Heather Steiner, for drinking most of the Dos Equis involved in researching this entry.
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Entry added 11 June 2002. The largest brewing company in Mexico, Grupo Modelo brews Corona, the most popular Mexican beer in the United States, as well as the Corona® Light, Estrella, León, Modelo Especial, Modelo Light, Monejo, Negra Modelo, Pacifico, and Victoria brands of beer. (Not all of these brands are available in the United States.)
There is a persistant factoid on the Internet that Grupo Modelo stamps their bottle caps with a letter indicating the month the beer was brewed ("A" for January, "B" for February, etc.). I just want to say, that in seven years of researching beer, I have never seen this stamp. Maybe Grupo Modelo used to stamp the bottle caps, but I don't think they do anymore. So far as I know, there are no product dates on bottles of Grupo Modelo brands.
On the other hand, I think the "letter as month" system is used on the cartons which six-packs ship in. There's a production code stamped on the long side of each carton; exactly half-way through the code is a single letter which (in my observations) does progress forward through the year.
So, if you actually buy Corona a carton at a time, you can figure out which month your beer was brewed. If you're buying six packs, you're out of luck. (I don't know if cans are stamped.)
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