Monday, February 7, 2011

Commercial Beer Labeling Requirements

If a brewery has any interest in packaging its beer in bottles and selling them, the labeling has to go through and be pre-approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (better known as the TTB).  The TTB's mission is to "Protect the Public" - to prevent consumers from purchasing products under false pretenses.  Therefore all beer labeling (labels, packaging, etc) need to comply with the agency's requirements and disclosures, which have been known to be a bit of a quagmire at times. 

Baying Hound Aleworks, a Maryland nanobrewery we have both interviewed and had the chance to visit, has been experiencing the TTB preapproval process since the brewery started packaging in bottles for distribution.  Paul Rinehart, the founder and headbrewer, decided to share his learnings in the recently posted The Anatomy of a Beer Label.  Described as a "breakdown of the required elements" for packaging, Paul recounted his thoughts on a number of labeling aspects.  This included:
  • Brand name size requirements
  • Class and type (style) designation
  • Brewery Address
  • Bottle net contents
  • Alcohol content (which is considered optional?)
  • Disclosures
  • Government/health warnings
  • Country of origin
  • A collection of further reading on the topic
While opening a brewery is not in my future plans, for one reason or another I seem to have an affinity for familiarizing myself with this type of information.  I guess I just mentally file this data in my "Just in Case" file.  And given I don't think I am the only one, I figured I would share the link.

Please let us know if you have any thoughts or comments.



"Many battles have been fought and won by soldiers nourished on beer."
-Frekerick William

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