"Ale With Natural Flavor Added"

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by mwvickers, May 9, 2012.

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  1. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    Summer Solstice Cerveza Creama from Anderson Valley Brewing Co. has "Ale with natural flavor added" written on the can.

    Anyone know what "natural flavor" entails—what are these "natural flavors" exactly?

  2. cubbyswans

    cubbyswans Aspirant (238) Jun 10, 2008 Missouri
    Beer Trader

    I hate when labels use "Natural" flavors/ingredients as a selling point. Shit is natural. So is Mercury. Natural tells you absolutely nothing. It's like when they put "FAT FREE!" all over a candy product, like that's supposed to make it healthy or something. I avoid products that use these shenanigans for marketing.
    CaptJackHarkness likes this.
  3. Patrick

    Patrick Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2007 Massachusetts

    I'd like to know this as well.
  4. silentjay

    silentjay Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2008 Massachusetts

    "Natural Flavoring" is not marketing, it is a Code of Federal Regulations definition.
    I'm not sure, but it may be required to be put on the label by state guidelines.

    you can avoid these products, but its pretty baseless.
    beerFool28607 and vkv822 like this.
  5. silentjay

    silentjay Initiate (0) Nov 25, 2008 Massachusetts

    and I'm assuming the natural flavor in the original post is something derived from oranges or citrus as with many summer beers.
    Duff27 likes this.
  6. BigGene

    BigGene Initiate (0) Oct 30, 2010 Florida

    I dont care what the natural flavoring is. That there beer is tasty
  7. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    I guess I am just wondering, if this is the case, they just don't label as such? Why would Federal Regulations require them to label as "natural flavors" instead of simply saying "Ale brewed with orange" (or something to that effect)?
  8. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    Undoubtedly so. I guess I just get a little puzzled when I see "mass market terminology" like this on my craft beer. Makes me want to dig deeper.
  9. bushycook

    bushycook Aspirant (235) Jan 31, 2011 Virginia
    Beer Trader

    Yeah, I wanted to know what the flavoring was also, it kinda reminded me of a jelly donut. In a good way.
    mwvickers likes this.
  10. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,602) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

  11. mark14580

    mark14580 Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2011 New York

    When starbucks added grounded up beatles to color their strawberry milkshake, this was considered a natural additive by federal regulations. I'm leery of anything with natural or artificial flavor added.
  12. Hanzo

    Hanzo Initiate (0) Feb 27, 2012 Virginia

    From the can I'd guess all natural Moose extract.
  13. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    I feel this line speaks volumes (not just in this instance): "The term "organic" is not synonymous with "natural."

    Although I enjoyed this beer. I have to admit, until I know more about their "natural flavor", I am rather disheartened. I do not mean to say anything bad about their practices or that these "natural flavors" are not indeed wholesome. The fact that the information hides behind this label, filled with grey area, is just not something I look for in a craft beer.
  14. emannths

    emannths Initiate (186) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    It's most likely citrus extract, but if it gives you pause, why not write to the brewery? They're on twitter and they have a "contact us" link on their site.

    Also, labels like this don't encourage me to rely on the "organic" label as a guarantee that I wouldn't regret eating the contents...
    jdrum likes this.
  15. FosterJM

    FosterJM Poo-Bah (2,602) Nov 16, 2009 California
    Beer Trader

    Correct. "Organic" is not "Natural" <- Media doing its job to sell product.

    "Natural flavor" is on a lot of labels I hate to say. I think if you take a walk in your local shop, you will find a suprising amount of labels that say this. I dont think are trying intentionally hiding anything, but maybe they are not actually in the beer. I mean they could be doing a big boil with a bag of ingredients and are adding flavor but not the whole ingredient to the beer therefore can't add the actual item in the list of ingredients.

    I am sure a homebrewer could add more to this than I can.

  16. CaptJackHarkness

    CaptJackHarkness Initiate (0) Aug 18, 2011 New York

    Some of the labeling is is due to government bureaucratic BS, example , buy a jar of peanuts and somewhere on the label is "Warning: Contains peanuts"!
  17. tjensen3618

    tjensen3618 Initiate (0) Mar 23, 2008 California

    My guess is maybe some vanilla extract.
    That beer isn't citrusy and has more of a cream soda type of flavor.
    farmhousebound likes this.
  18. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    @emannths: You are correct. I of course could reach out to the brewery (and I should). I just wanted to open the discussion to you guys as well.

    I think, in the end, my only "issue" resides in the fact that it is craft beer and I am not used to this type of labeling. Although maybe I have not looked at others with a more carful eye?
  19. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    This is also a very good point.
  20. Longstaff

    Longstaff Initiate (0) May 23, 2002 Massachusetts

    And yet brewers can flavor their beer in bbls that contain booze in them with no label requirement - and beer geeks can't get their hands on it quick enough. ;-)
  21. loudmouth

    loudmouth Aspirant (245) May 24, 2010 Wisconsin

    Getting label approval for a beer can be a very frustrating process. They are often told what in the recipe has to be listed on the label, and how it has to be listed. After a lot of give and take, they are usually to the point of just agreeing with whatever they are forced to put on the label just to get it through. I'm sure anyone who has dealt with the government can sympathize.
    Duff27 likes this.
  22. Jason

    Jason Founder (7,986) Aug 23, 1996 Massachusetts
    Staff Subscriber

  23. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    I suppose many would say, there are a lot of "backwards" things when it somes to government regulations on food and beverage. A very fair remark. So maybe we could just leave it at that.

    But still, the question begs, does it not seem puzzling to mettle with wording, if there is just no need to? Why would they be forced to use the term "natural flavor" if they can just list the specific natural ingredients (maybe because they are not so natural)? Why would, Anderson Valley specifically, need to call it something else when other breweries are getting away with calling it as it is?

    These may be rhetorical questions for the moment and I only mean to play devil's advocate for the point of discussion. I am still giving them the benefit of doubt to a great brewery such as Anderson Valley. I will also send a message there way and see if they care to shed light on why they must add these terms.
  24. emannths

    emannths Initiate (186) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I think it's just industry-standard language when a flavor extract is used. You might see "with fruit/coffee/chocolate/honey/etc" added, but I don't think I've ever seen a label that explicitly describes the use of an extract or other derivative of them.
  25. GennyCreamAle

    GennyCreamAle Initiate (0) Feb 25, 2009 New York

    According the FDA website:
    spices, natural flavors or artificial flavors may be declared in ingredient lists by using either specific common or usual names or by using the declarations “spices,” “flavor” or “natural flavor,” or “artificial flavor.”

    My guess would be that the producer may prefer the ambiguous labels if they are attempting to create a unique product (using say a secret ingredient)
  26. emannths

    emannths Initiate (186) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Another reason to preserve the ambiguity of the ingredient is if they don't want you to focus on the ORANGE FLAVOR while drinking it. Sometimes you want a flavor front-and-center, but sometimes you don't. To put "ale with citrus extract" on the label, and not delivering big citrus flavor, kinda drags the consumer in the wrong direction.
    Chaz likes this.
  27. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    I won't tire everyone with this argument, but for comparisons sake, just look at Dogfish Head for instance. Never do you see them saying "brewed with natural flavor". In most cases they explicitly list what they mean:


    But you may be right. "Ale with natural flavor added" could just be a simplification for clarity? And also because it is not simply just (for example) oranges or vanilla. Does "Ale brewed with fruit extracts" sound more appealing?
  28. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    As a side note, I also just noticed Magic Hat's #9, has "Ale with natural flavor" on it's label. Take that one as you will.

    Anybody see the "natural flavor" popping up on other beers?
  29. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    This is also I thought I have had. Again, another reason I am hoping they respond to my message.
  30. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    Also a very good point, and again, maybe something my contact with them will shed light on.
  31. emannths

    emannths Initiate (186) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    It's pretty common. Many of the Clown Shoes beers, including Lubrication, Tramp Stamp, and Muffin top have "natural flavor," whereas their pecan beer (Pecan Pie Porter), which uses butter pecan extract, explicitly mentions the flavor (ie, pecan). If you search google for ale "with natural flavor" you'll find many more examples.
  32. mwvickers

    mwvickers Initiate (0) Sep 28, 2011 Massachusetts

    I guess that in some ways that helps answer my original question. Maybe at the end of the day it is just more of an industry standard than my eyes allowed me to see.

    It is up to the drinker to determine if the "natural flavor" is inhibiting the beer and it is up to the brewery to disclose information they deem necessary to the best experience.

    I think my personal opinion holds true, even knowing this terminology is more common than I anticipated. I prefer less ambiguity and I enjoy knowing the specifics.

    I will be sure to post Anderson Valley's reply if they ever choose to and I will be drinking some Boont Amber with tonights spaghetti.
    DMRattigan likes this.
  33. maltmaster420

    maltmaster420 Aspirant (284) Aug 17, 2005 Oregon
    Beer Trader

    Those animals are called Beers. Deer + Bear = Beer
    beerFool28607 likes this.
  34. milkbaby9

    milkbaby9 Initiate (0) Jul 28, 2010 Florida
    Beer Trader

    Terrapin Moo-Hoo chocolate milk stout is another labeled "with natural flavors"... Just regulatory labeling...
  35. sunkistxsudafed

    sunkistxsudafed Initiate (0) Apr 30, 2010 New Mexico

    I thought deer + bear = dear
  36. 5thOhio

    5thOhio Devotee (497) May 13, 2007 South Carolina

    "When starbucks added grounded up beatles..."

    Well, that solves the mystery of what really happened to Paul, anyway.
    FriarTuckInLuck and whitekiboko like this.
  37. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,788) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    The cochineal (carmine) dye is a centuries-old product, so there's nothing really new to its use in that fashion. And it is derived from insects- they're not actually adding crushed insects to their drinks. I can certainly see how it would be preferable to use that product to using artificial dyes; in fact, I remember the total shitstorm a number of years back when Campari switched away from carmine (due to cost issues, iirc) and how it supposedly lost an element of its character. But that's just me, bring on the bugs!* The labeling issue with carmine comes up only because a very very small segment of the population will have an allergic reaction to it and need to know where it may be found.

    *disclaimer: I don't get drinks from Starbucks, strawberry or otherwise, but in a general sense I'm not really sweating this stuff.
  38. emannths

    emannths Initiate (186) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Lobster lovers say the same thing. And lobsters have 4 more legs.
  39. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (1,788) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
    Beer Trader

    I've been known to eat a lobster or two. And mudbugs!
  40. mark14580

    mark14580 Initiate (0) Jan 15, 2011 New York

    Yeah I don't mean to shit on the use of carmine but just pointing out that natural or artificial flavors can be deceptive.
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