Author Topic: Truth in advertising?  (Read 523 times)

Offline pinnah

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Truth in advertising?
« on: January 07, 2014, 10:11:59 PM »
Lets take craft beer labels.

One of my favorite commercial offerings is an imperial dark IPA.
The label says 9.2% abv but you would not know it by tasting it. 
Not calling them liars...it is just exceptionally well made.

But...it has me wondering what kind of controls, if any, were in place to prevent breweries from just making stuff up.

Any thoughts out there?

Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2014, 11:40:00 PM »
I suppose sending it to be measured in a lab would tell the story. Then if it's grossly off, let them know they need to fix it. If they don't you could go on Geraldo

Offline theoman

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2014, 01:45:24 AM »
I've wondered the same thing. I'm guessing controls are even more relaxed in Belgium. One of my favorite beers is the Simcoe Lager from St. Helene. They claim it's 3.5%. It's too good to be that low.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2014, 05:10:38 AM »
I am not a professional and have no plans to become one.  The pros on this forum will correct if I'm wrong (which is fine).

The way I understand it, here in the states, the labels need to be approved by the TTB(?).  I think I have heard that you have to submit your recipes too.

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Offline majorvices

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2014, 05:15:05 AM »
Lets take craft beer labels.

One of my favorite commercial offerings is an imperial dark IPA.
The label says 9.2% abv but you would not know it by tasting it. 
Not calling them liars...it is just exceptionally well made.

But...it has me wondering what kind of controls, if any, were in place to prevent breweries from just making stuff up.

Any thoughts out there?

You are allowed a .2% shift up or down with TTB, but yeah - you can make stuff up. You can put whatever you want on the label. But you also might get caught.

Once I missed the gravity on one of my beers. Label said something like 9.2 but it was actually closer to 8.8 or 8.9. But we already had the label printed and couldn't redo it and the beer tastes great. Just so happened we got audited by TTB and nailed.

I don't think many of us are trying to pull the wool over anyone's eyes but the percentage on the label of many of those beers could be off some, especially on your smaller regional breweries. But in most places probably close. If I miss my mark significantly (which only happened one time when my assistant brewer sparged with 120 degree water) I dump. But it is usually within a couple of fractions of a percentage point if not spot on.
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Offline majorvices

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2014, 05:19:14 AM »
I am not a professional and have no plans to become one.  The pros on this forum will correct if I'm wrong (which is fine).

The way I understand it, here in the states, the labels need to be approved by the TTB(?).  I think I have heard that you have to submit your recipes too.

Paul

Label and keg ring has to be approved, but that doesn't mean anything. Recipe only has to be approved if if has special ingredients like orange peel or barrel aged in anything that could increase ABV. TTB is obsessively stupid about being sure you don't change anything on "approved" recipes. Once I changed the amount of lime leaves and ginger I put in my Belgian wheat beer to tune it in and got nailed for that without reporting it, as well. But I toy with some of my other all grain recipes all the time and they don't care.

Also, you can just leave the ABV off the label completely, though local regulations may prohibit that. Ours insists you have ABV printed on label or keg ring.
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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2014, 05:23:34 AM »
Any checking is probably done by audit and rather than by lab tests. This means they would check your recipe, purchasing records, brewing notes, and measurements to make sure they add up. There could be errors, but that's a lot of lies to pull off on purpose. I doubt the benefit would make it worthwhile.

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Offline majorvices

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2014, 05:42:27 AM »
Any checking is probably done by audit and rather than by lab tests. This means they would check your recipe, purchasing records, brewing notes, and measurements to make sure they add up. There could be errors, but that's a lot of lies to pull off on purpose. I doubt the benefit would make it worthwhile.

- Sent by my R2 unit

Actually, they use lab testing to check ABV accuracy. And the TTB auditors know nothing about brewing. And when I say nothing I mean NOTHING. Both I have had to deal with have been retirement aged woman who had never worked in the brewing business before. Regardless, your recipe can add up but
if your efficiency is off thats a different story.

On the whole the TTB uses the ingredient lists and volumes of racked, BBT volume, shipped and dumped volumes to simply check to see if you are paying you taxes. As said before, they don't require recipe approval unless it is special ingredients - but you do have to report amount of malt, hops and sugar used per batch. The ABV thing is just a little something extra but they only fuss at you and make sure you show you are trying to fix it. If you aren't paying taxes though, then you are in trouble.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2014, 05:47:00 AM by majorvices »
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Offline klickitat jim

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2014, 05:55:13 AM »
These TTB chicks sound hot!

Offline pinnah

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2014, 07:24:13 AM »
Wow, that is really interesting.  I had no idea there was that much scrutiny.
I checked out the TTB website.  Seems like they need to be hiring more employees to tackle all the new breweries popping up.

Offline Slowbrew

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2014, 09:28:04 AM »
I am not a professional and have no plans to become one.  The pros on this forum will correct if I'm wrong (which is fine).

The way I understand it, here in the states, the labels need to be approved by the TTB(?).  I think I have heard that you have to submit your recipes too.

Paul

Label and keg ring has to be approved, but that doesn't mean anything. Recipe only has to be approved if if has special ingredients like orange peel or barrel aged in anything that could increase ABV. TTB is obsessively stupid about being sure you don't change anything on "approved" recipes. Once I changed the amount of lime leaves and ginger I put in my Belgian wheat beer to tune it in and got nailed for that without reporting it, as well. But I toy with some of my other all grain recipes all the time and they don't care.

Also, you can just leave the ABV off the label completely, though local regulations may prohibit that. Ours insists you have ABV printed on label or keg ring.

Thanks for the info.  I wondered how obsessive they were about it.  Based on comments in the going pro section it always seemed like the label was a big issue for brewers.

Paul
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Offline morticaixavier

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2014, 09:42:24 AM »
There was a law suit brought against Budweiser last year because a customer had the beer analyzed and it was 5% instead of 5.2%. I think the customer got his three bucks back  ::)
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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #12 on: January 08, 2014, 09:47:44 AM »
Great info.  I always wondered how the system worked.
Jon H.

Offline majorvices

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #13 on: January 08, 2014, 10:19:51 AM »
There was a law suit brought against Budweiser last year because a customer had the beer analyzed and it was 5% instead of 5.2%. I think the customer got his three bucks back  ::)

Wow. I thought they'd be spot on. Never guessed they would have any sway. But under TTB laws they were close enough for rock and roll.
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Offline dbeechum

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Re: Truth in advertising?
« Reply #14 on: January 10, 2014, 11:06:25 AM »
I don't recall that lawsuit, but there was this one that got a lot of attention and then faded.
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-02-26/ab-inbev-overstates-alcohol-in-budweiser-lawsuit-claims.html

The complaint was that ABI was supposedly shaving off abv, but all the independent tests came back showing them on the money. I suspect it was one of those things brought about because of their practice of brewing a higher gravity and then diluting at packaging to increase brew length.
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