Tag Archives: fda regulations

One Beer Article You Need To Read And Why, 10/19/16

Every presidential election cycle I notice that a lot of people in this country do not know exactly how our government works.  Yes, the president is the most powerful individual in this country’s government.  However, the president is not a monarch.  The President is powerful in a narrowly defined role.

Another part of government citizens do not get is how powerful agencies are.  The day to day function of government and most of citizen’s interaction with government is at the agency level.  Many of the rules and regulations agencies operate under are never voted on by politicians beholden to the voting public.  These are rules and regulations the politicians expect the agency experts to enact based on their experience and expertise.

What if the experts don’t know what they are talking about?  In 2014 the FDA as part of an overhaul of its food safety rules proposed a solution to something that had not been a problem for the history of brewing.  They wanted to regulate the use of spent grain as food for cattle and pigs.  Never mind that there had never been a recorded case of animals getting sick from spent grain or humans getting sick from eating animals that had eaten spent grain.  This was a solution in search of a problem that would cause more time and expense for brewers already operating on the bare minimum of both.

These regulations were rejected after the whole of the brewing world threw a collective fit in newspapers, magazines, and at regulatory hearings, but it does highlight something we in the craft beer world should consider.  The concept of craft brewing is so new that people don’t fully understand it or its culture.

The average beer drinker had no idea brewers give away their spent grain to local farmers.  That assumes the average beer drinker knows where beer comes from in the first place.  For all the sturm and drang Big Beer acquisitions of craft brewers engenders within the craft brew community, the average drinker doesn’t care.  They just want one of two things: beer that tastes good and to be a part of this new cool craft beer thing.

It is no surprise that FDA regulators had no idea of the history of spent grain, brewers, and farmers.  Much like people who work in craft beer, the regulators lives and field of vision are very myopic. They spend most of their time becoming experts in their field of study or the machinations of bureaucracy.  They have no connection to beer or brewing.  I am fully confident that this spent grain proposal was not considered that important or controversial by the people who proposed it because they had no context in which to think about it.

The process did work.  Bureaucrats with no context to understand the real effects of a solution with no problem, proposed the solution.  The people whom would be most adversely affected by this regulation raised hell.  The regulation was reconsidered and shelved.

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/23/15

I keep getting emails telling me about last minute gift ideas for Christmas.  If you haven’t completed you Christmas shopping yet, you are not going to be able to buy anything really worth a crap.  Unless your ABInbev, in which case you’ll just keep buying as many ripe for the picking breweries as possible.

  • Let’s just get it out of the way, Breckenridge Brewing has been purchased by AB which makes it 3 new purchases in 5 days. As these purchases happen I have 2 thoughts.  The first is AB is simply buying breweries that were already in a mood to sell.  They are not going out there and doing hostile takeovers or anything.  They are doing their research and finding willing partners.  The second thought is a quote from Almost Famous: “If you think Mick Jagger will be out there trying to be a rock star at age 50, you are sadly, sadly mistaken.” That quote comes from a character who still thinks of rock and roll as a calling, an artistic endeavor outside the dirty bounds of business.  He was sadly, sadly mistaken.  Rock and roll is a part of the music business.  Mick is still going up on stage because he loves it and someone pays him lots of money to do it.  Brewing and craft beer are in some ways a calling.  However, craft beer is a part of the beer business.  That means if the owners of a brewery want to sell and someone comes along and offers them twice what they invested, they are probably going to sell.  To make you feel better, think of it this way: for all the brewers that AB has bought recently, how many new breweries have started up?
  • Ah, the sexy, sexy news about excise tax reform for brewers. Read that hot stuff right here.
  • I too am one of those people who refuse to stand in line to buy a bottle of beer. When I was younger I stood and slept in line for concert tickets and UNC/Dook tickets.  I’m old now, I’m not standing line for a damn thing.  Especially a bottle of beer.  Of course, as a person who works in a bar/beer retail shop, I pull my bottles out of the box and stash them away as soon as they are delivered.
  • The more I read, the more shocked I’ve become at how many states limit beer sales in grocery stores. As backwards as NC alcohol laws are, we’ve been able to buy beer of almost any strength in grocery stores for a long time.
  • One thing I learned when I really followed politics was that if someone is ranting about a law or an agency regulation was to go read the law or regulation myself to see if their rantings were based in reality. With the new FDA nutritional information requirements for beer, I forgot to do that. Here is a good breakdown of the new regulation from Queen City Drinks (the other Queen City: Cincinnati).

Five Beer Articles You Need To Read And Why, 12/8/15

It’s Tuesday, and I’m a little late today because I stayed up to watch the worst football game I’ve ever seen that didn’t involve playing in a monsoon or a blizzard.  It was like watching a slow motion train wreck.  I couldn’t look away.