Recently, we’ve made a bit of a change to the equipment on our canning line. After four years with our former date code printer, we made the decision to switch to a different model. Because our cans will now look a little different, we want to share what was behind the decision and where to look for the change.
Why is a date code important?
The purpose of including a date code on our beers is to let our quality team track batches and let our distribution partners and customers know when a beer was packaged. Certain styles of beer are best enjoyed within a specific window of time from when they were packaged. For instance, our IPAs are best purchased within three months from their package dates, due to the manner in which this style of beer changes over time, while our fruit beers and lagers are best purchased within 6 months. The date code makes it easy to look at a beer and know exactly when we put it into cans!
Why make a change?
The best part about our old date code printer was that it allowed us to include funny (or punny!) messages on the bottom of our cans along with the date code. While we loved the opportunity to include a little silliness on our cans, the fact of the matter was that our old date coder gave us more trouble than fun. We were running into increasingly frequent, and expensive, technical issues that were impacting legibility and reliability, negating the whole point of including a date code in the first place. Eventually, we decided that it had given us all it had to give, and it was time to put it out of its misery (and ours).
Introducing the new!
Our new date coder is a lovely little piece of machinery. It’s about as analog as can be – before each canning run, we physically reset the type inside a tiny metal rectangle. Labels are unwound from their spool and pass through the date coder, where the day’s date is stamped by that little metal box, the type pressing ink from a ribbon onto the label. Once a label has been stamped, it’s pressed onto the can, and away that beer goes to become one fourth of a 4-pack.
Where am I looking for this date code, anyway?
There are a couple places you can look for our date codes currently. Our old date code printer wrote on the bottoms of our cans, but the new machine prints the code on the label itself, typically in the upper left corner of the label. Because the transition from one date coder to the next was not immediate, there may still be some beer on the market that we packaged in between the old and new. Those brands will have a sticker on the top of the black PakTech holder saying when they were packaged. Soon, all of our cans will have the date code in the same spot, on the label.
As always, you can reach out to us with any questions about our beers, our process, or why and how we do what we do. If you’re curious to learn more about how certain styles of beer age and why, or any other piece of the canning line puzzle, let us know!