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Old beer from Trader Joe's?

eethan Jul 26, 2012 02:13 PM

Does anyone know about how Trader Joe's stocks their beers? Do they do some bulk buys of discounted beer from distributors? I know each store's wine-buying is done somewhat independently, which allows for some of that.

I'm wondering because I recently got a six pack at TJ's (for cheap), but the beer (Eye of the Hawk) didn't taste nearly as good as I'd remembered -- it was similar, but the flavours seemed muted. So I'm wondering if the beer could have been old and stale, or if I just don't like it as much as I thought. I don't think I've ever had a beer that was old (except for intentionally aged beers).

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  1. Tripeler RE: eethan Jul 26, 2012 06:34 PM

    Rather than old, which I believe there is little chance of, it could have been that the beer was damaged by excessive heat. It could have sat out on a dock for a while in the summer sun. Still, if you have the remaining beers in the six pack I think TJs would be happy to refund your money

    1. c
      chuckl RE: eethan Jul 27, 2012 09:38 AM

      Eye of the Hawk is from Mendocino Brewing Co., so it's not contract brewed by Trader Joes like some of their other beers, like their Mission Street line, which is brewed by Firestone Walker. One of the problems with buying beer at Trader Joes is that they don't refrigerate any of it, so you're sort of at the mercy of the room-temperature shelves and whatever ambient conditions, such as light, might affect it. Depending on the store, your Eye of the Hawk could have sat on a warm shelf for quite a while. I don't recall whether Mendocino puts a sell by date on their beer, but if they do, you should be able to find it on the label

      5 Replies
      1. re: chuckl
        eethan RE: chuckl Jul 27, 2012 03:17 PM

        Thanks -- it does seem more likely to be light and heat rather than age. I had looked for a sell-by date on the bottle, but I think Mendocino Brewing doesn't do that. Anyway, since no one else is reporting this issue I guess it sounds like it's not an endemic problem, so maybe I won't cease buying beer altogether from Trader Joe's. Although I've never found one of their contract-brewed beers that I liked very much, they often have some beers that I do (e.g., Stone, 21st Amendment, Unibroue), which can be convenient as long as they're not chronically mishandling the stock.

        1. re: eethan
          LStaff RE: eethan Jul 30, 2012 08:27 AM

          Light causes only one problem in beer - skunkiness - which is pretty obvious and doesn't seem to be the issue here. Heat causes beer to age faster.

          At my local TJ's that sells beers, I am very suspect of the age of many of their selections - some six packs with a layer of dust and all. I don't recall dates on much of their own private labels, but the beer made at Firestone Walker is usually high quality - mission st. pale ale gets much respect from my old school beer geek friends.

        2. re: chuckl
          LStaff RE: chuckl Jul 30, 2012 08:23 AM

          Mendocino can be contract brewed depending on where you live. For the east coast Its brewed at the Olde Saratoga brewery that also makes Kingfischer. I have yet to have a good beer from that brewery - would much rather have a Firestone Walker made beer. ;-)

          1. re: LStaff
            Jim Dorsch RE: LStaff Jul 30, 2012 11:40 AM

            I believe the Saratoga and Mendocino breweries have common ownership, in which case this would be more like branch brewing than contract.

            1. re: Jim Dorsch
              JessKidden RE: Jim Dorsch Jul 30, 2012 12:02 PM

              Yup, and both are owned by the UB Group, the giant Indian beverage (and other stuff) company which brews Kingfisher, so even that is an "in-house" contract brew if anything.


              Heineken currently owns over a third of UB's United Breweries subsidiary and may soon control more. http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07...

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