ST. LOUIS — Fine wine may taste better with time, but beer doesn't, so Anheuser-Busch wants to assure customers that their brew is new.
Beginning this summer, the nation's biggest brewer will stamp "born on" dates on its Budweiser, Bud Light and Bud Ice cans and bottles. The date will signify when the beer was brewed.
"Beer is an all-natural product," August A. Busch IV, vice president of brand management, said Thursday. "And it can [become] stale over time. It doesn't go bad, it's just less drinkable, not as delicate."
The company announced the plan and an accompanying ad campaign this week at its annual wholesalers convention in New Orleans.
Market researcher Bob Weinberg said he expects other brewers may move to match what Anheuser-Busch is doing.
"Beer is biologically alive," he said. "Beer changes and you want to drink beer while it's still fresh. This is something that encourages all the participants in the distribution channel to keep beer fresh."
Freshness dating isn't new to the beverage business. Two years ago, soft-drink maker PepsiCo Inc. starting stamping expiration dates on its cans and bottles.
Beer bottles and cans already carry a code that shows distributors when to pull the product off the shelf--after 110 days.
But the new "born on" code will be more easily read by customers.