I have been contemplating drinking this bottle of New Holland "Cabin Fever" for a long while now. It has been sitting on the top shelf of my beer fridge, seemingly calling my name. But I wondered how old it was, and would it still be worthwhile? It's safe to say it still tasted great regardless of the year it was born, but I wanted to know when it was bottled.
My first instinct in the past has been to get on Google and search the company's website. First I typed in "New Holland batch number," then I added "year" to the end. No luck. I found the New Holland website, but there was nothing there to help me either.
After a few more tweaks, I saw that others were talking about a date stamp on the side or bottom of New Holland's bottle. Eureka! That's the same number I got by holding the bottle up to the light and staring through the brown bottom.
This number was staring back at me: 0253 73E1559. I kept searching and came across a web page that's worth more then gold to a geek like me. It's called Fresh Beer Only, and lists the exact spot on your can/bottle to find the date your beer was born. After searching the "US Beer List," I found this description for New Holland bottles:
New Holland: Uses a bottling date. It should be located on the shoulder of the 12 oz or 22 oz bottle. It is a 4 digit code. The first digit is a letter (A = January, B = February, C = March, etc.) The second two digits are the day of the month (01 - 31). The last digit is the year in the decade (0 - 9). So if you have a date code that reads "E319" that would then mean that the beer was packaged on May 31, 2009.
Wallah! My beer was born on May 15th, 2009! How cool.
And by the way, the beer still tasted great. It poured a dark brown color, and had a syrupy, cola like taste. Very bready in the nose, and rich on the tongue. Faded coffee, chocolate, and caramel, with stout like characteristics.
This '09 Cabin Fever wasn't the Holy Grail of beers, but it was tasty. It still carried a nice head on the first two pours, that faded quickly after hitting my four ounce tasting glass.