Ohio Beer Counsel
Information and Commentary on the Issues Facing Ohio's Craft Beer Community, Breweries and Distilleries - Brewed by the Craft Beer Lawyers of Bruns, Connell, Vollmar & Armstrong's Brewery & Distillery Practice Group
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Required Nutritional Info May Slim Down Craft Beer

Photo by Ahlapot/iStock / Getty Images

As craft beer reaches an all-time high, many pundits are quick to predict when the "bubble" will burst.  As long as craft breweries are based on a solid plan and produce quality beer, the room for continued growth, especially in Ohio is great.  However, new federal regulations which take effect in December 2016 may stunt the growth of craft beer.

As part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010, "a restaurant or similar retail food establishment that is part of a chain with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items" will be required to provide calorie information on each menu item...including beverages.  These covered establishments must also provide additional nutritional information for "standard menu items" upon request.  Full text of 21 CFR 101.11 can be found here.

What does this mean for craft brewers?  Chain restaurants have recently realized the strength of craft and expanded their taps to include craft beer, many times from local breweries.  These type of accounts benefit craft breweries as they reach consumers who aren't typically walking through the brewery doors. 

This opportunity available to craft brewers may be in jeopardy as chain restaurants will no longer be legally allowed to sell beer that is not accompanied by calorie (and possibly other) information.  Depending on the brewery and book of accounts, this imminent reality may truly affect the bottom line.

The alternative will also affect a brewery's bottom line.  The brewery is required to provide the calorie count of its beers.  The cost...possibly $1,000 per product.  Imagine the cost of a successful account with multiple taps and rotating beers?  While this is a one-time cost for each product, the cumulative one-time number gets bigger the larger the brewery's offerings.

The new regulations will not affect every craft brewery, but likely a substantial number.  It will certainly affect Ohio's smaller craft breweries who will be forced to choose between possibly spending thousands or losing an account.  Not a good position to be in.  The Brewers Association (of which OBC is an Associate Member) provided comment to the FDA's 2010 draft guidance seeking clarity, fairness and realistic application of the regulation to craft brewers. 

Contact OBC with any questions