Brewdog flouted US laws over beer imports

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by Todd, Jan 19, 2022.

  1. Todd

    Todd Founder (6,634) Aug 23, 1996 California
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    Scottish beer giant Brewdog sent multiple shipments of beer to the US, in contravention of US federal laws, a BBC investigation has found.
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-60054053
     
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  2. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,438) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    “Mr. Watt said the company self-reported the issue to the TTB, who told Brewdog there would be no further action taken.

    It is not clear if Brewdog self-reported the issue at the time, or after the BBC wrote to them.

    The TTB told the BBC that a three-year statute of limitations prevented any enforcement action being taken, and in any case, it would have to have been initiated against the US-based importer, who is legally responsible for the shipments.”

    If the above is accurate, it would seem that the only ‘issue’ for BrewDog is embarrassment?

    Cheers!
     
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  3. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    In which case there is no issue given the company.
     
  4. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,438) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Heck Chris, they might even come out with a new beer labeled as "Illegal Extracts IPA" (or similar)! :wink:

    Cheers!
     
  5. elNopalero

    elNopalero Poo-Bah (4,367) Oct 14, 2009 California
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    Out of all the things Brewdog has done, this might be the closest to something I’d call punk.
     
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  6. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Since it's Brewdog, people will obviously add this to their long list of everything they dislike about them (is the list ten pages yet?), but if a loved small US craft brewer took paperwork "shortcuts" because they knew the government would take too long to approve a flavor extract... and the legal process would prevent their IPA from hitting the shelves in a timely fashion... I bet some folks would have the opinion that the "over-regulating" government was getting in the way of craft beer "innovation."
     
  7. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,733) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    Is that even possible?
     
  8. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,438) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    Yeah, Chris (@zid) pointed that out as well above.

    It would seem that the BrewDog dudes have no shame. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    Cheers!
     
  9. Bitterbill

    Bitterbill Poo-Bah (8,054) Sep 14, 2002 Wyoming
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    Their next brew, Shameless. An ESB. (Embarrassing Shameless Bastards)
    :slight_smile:
     
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  10. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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  11. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,239) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    Dan Shelton, the lawyer, from The Shelton Brothers? Damned crazy world.
     
  12. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,239) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I have never bought a Brewdawg beer and never will ya'll.
     
  13. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (962) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    Seems like if you're going to publish a story about a brewery shipping beer containing unapproved secret ingredients you should say what those unapproved secret ingredients were.
     
  14. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Brewdog's UK and US web stores state that Elvis Juice contains these ingredients: natural grapefruit and orange flavourings

    Brewdog's Europe web store states that Elvis Juice contains these ingredients: dried orange peel, dried grapefruit peel, natural grapefruit extract, natural blood orange extract.

    All three of those sites state that Jet Black Heart Nitro contains natural vanilla flavouring.
     
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  15. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    The TTB changed some of the requirements for label approvals for beers using flavorings back in Ruling 2015-1 but even for some of the ingredients above, they might still need to have the formula approved before getting a COLA depending on the form of the ingredient.
    For instance (from Attachment #1 - emphasis added):
     
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  16. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,438) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    From the ruling:
    It seems like the TTB has a formula requirement for extracts mainly due to their sensitivity to alcohol origin (and maybe strength)… and that sensitivity is mainly driven by taxes. Do you think that’s a fair way of putting it (or way too reckless of me)? The Brewers Association really scored a win for brewers by getting the TTB to loosen up about barrel aging. Membership dollars at work.
     
  18. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    @jesskidden - I just looked at that “attachment” link. It’s great that the TTB has determined kale and watermelon to be “traditional” in beer production. :slight_smile:
     
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  19. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah but the only time higher taxes would kick in on the Federal level (I think some states have such rules, too) would be if the use of an alcohol-based extract violated this rule:
    But I'd imagine that an extract BrewDog used in the UK might not have the right paperwork/approval certificate/whatever-that-safety-form is called, that shows the product meets FDA regulations.

    Well, as you noted above, that was the Brewers Association convincing them of it.
    Sooo... any goofy shit some "craft" brewers have used widely becomes traditional! :astonished: And I wonder if there's some disgruntlement with that concept:

    How can you be innovative if everything you do automatically becomes "traditional"?

    Seems oxymoronic...:grin:

    But they did knock down some stuff - juniper branches, pluot, spruce leaves, squid ink, woodruff and licorice. Funny thing - pre-craft era I can think of US beers that used juniper (berries not leaves) and licorice.
     
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  20. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,739) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    As far as I'm concerned they are one less thing to think about.
     
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  21. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,040) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Ya I would think that juniper, spruce, and licorice have much richer histories in brewing than kale or watermelon.
     
  22. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    The TTB has loosened up a lot of their rules in the past few years and have given approvals to lots of labels and names that would have been knocked down in the past but they still like to keep brewers on their toes or scratching their heads. One or the other of those body movements.
     
  23. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Yeah, when I saw that the ruling for juniper branches, spruce, and squid ink was that "the available data did not establish that these ingredients are traditionally used in the production of fermented beverages designated as beer, ale, porter, stout, lager, or malt liquor," I did a double take... both for the explanation regarding juniper branches and spruce, and also for the inclusion of squid ink on the BA list to begin with. You really can't make this stuff up. :grimacing:
     
  24. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,040) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I thought that scqndinavian brewing traditions had made enough of an inroad in the states for those to be easily included. My local bar just finished a keg from Estonia of a stout brewed with juniper and rowan berries.
    Haven't seen that one in the wild yet, but maybe it's the neutral colorant we need for black ipas to make it back?
     
  25. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,733) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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  26. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (2,040) Mar 12, 2013 California
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  27. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,733) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    Well, it was added 9 years ago, so....

    Plus, there's no 'S' in Pike. The brewery is named after, and is in Pike Place Market, downtown Seattle.
     
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  28. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Yeah, I think someone* would have to dig into the FDA - Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) records to find why those weren't exempted by the TTB. For instance:
    ...even though someone would have to drink a lot of a stout to reach that consumption level but the way I read it the TTB doesn't ban it, they just want to see the formula before approving it.

    * Just not me, I remember doing it for something and it's a PITA.:grin:
     
  29. AlfromPA

    AlfromPA Initiate (45) Dec 9, 2021 Pennsylvania

    I know a lot of people really dislike Brewdog for good reason. I do have a soft spot for them (incredibly). When my wife and I lived in London in 2012-13 I, on rare occasions, had a hankering for a US-style IPA. I only found two: one, various hop varieties put out by the Kernel--by far the best, and rivaling the very best US IPAs. The second was Brewdog, which unlike the Kernel was widely available and which at least was OK tasting, very much in the ballpark of typical stronger (ABV) American offerings. I'm sure today they are less of a novelty on that score in the UK.
     
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  30. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    It appears that that is just a characterful name for a beer rather than a signal for an odd ingredient usage. Looking on the web, I did see a case of a brewer using squid ink in a beer... but there's a a certain level of absurdity in including such a thing in a ruling like the BA desired. Makes you wonder if they adopted the Mel Brooks method of scriptwriting - First you write the script you want to produce but you know will not get through intact due to perceived obscenities or whatnot, then you add lots of extra obscenities in and submit the script. When people demand cuts, you get rid of everything you added in and they wind up approving the script you always wanted to make because it's seen as a compromise. I get the impression that the BA wasn't too concerned with wasting the TTB's time with their list. :wink:
    Their ruling specifically singled out licorice due to "the limitations placed by the FDA regulations on the maximum levels" for it. Everything else just got the not "traditional" remark, so I'd assume that FDA regulations weren't the issue in those cases... because that would be a logical conclusion and everything in this ruling was clearly dictated by logic. Besides, looking it up is a PITA. :wink:
     
  31. Rug

    Rug Poo-Bah (1,696) Aug 20, 2018 Massachusetts
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    It seems pretty arbitrary what they deem traditional or not. I, for one, am all for them adding pluot to the list. I only had one beer brewed with them (Almanac Farmer's Reserve Pluot) and it was awesome. Squid ink on the other hand? I think I'll pass lol
     
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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  33. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    To provide a more serious response than my previous one, I was wondering if "juniper branches" and "spruce leaves" were really given the red flag because of a relative lack of use in/as food products ignoring their use in alcoholic beverage production. It might be easier to get a green light on grown produce like kiwi... even if some of the logic for it is a bit backwards.
     
  34. zid

    zid Poo-Bah (1,731) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    This thread got me thinking about the character of Brewdog in the craft beer narrative for beer geeks. In the past, this narrative had a simplistic approach to its heroes and villains. On one side you had the so-called "99% a**hole free" character, and on the other side you had the "macro" evil empire. Time has clearly eroded the starkness of this viewpoint, but a story still needs a good villain and the casting of AB InBev had gotten stale for some.

    It feels like Brewdog has effortlessly jumped into a villainous role for many. Back in the day, it would have been a lot harder to imagine a "craft brewer" taking on that role so well. In some ways, it might be a reflection of the shifting importance of different ethics issues for customers. The narrative has shifted a bit away from how a company treats its competitors, to how a company treats its employees. It's telling that Founders is still seen as a craft brewer to some people, and that it is mainly vilified for reasons that have nothing to do with its sale. Macro lagers will still get lower ratings on this site on average than the average Brewdog beer, but product probably doesn't carry the same weight as an area of transgression as it once did.
     
  35. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,239) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    I used to buy a very nice Moselle May wine that my girlfriend liked very much. Schloss something or other. She was definitely of German heritage- like me- and it made her very happy. That was a good thing. Long ago and not forgotten.
     
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  36. rgordon

    rgordon Meyvn (1,239) Apr 26, 2012 North Carolina

    It was all a function of looking for some meaning for being. Esse Quam Videri: to be rather than to seem (North Carolina motto). Brewdog suffered from steady seeming and not being. Grandstanders.
     
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  37. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (5,438) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania
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    I suppose each us BAs have our own unique views on the persona of BrewDog Brewing.

    My personal take/impression is that the BrewDog dudes just worked too hard to be ‘punk’. Now perhaps both James Watt and Martin Dickie view themselves as being naturally (and genuinely) ‘punk’ but their whole schtick comes off as a gimmick to me. I get that breweries are businesses and that brewery owners might feel the need to differentiate themselves from their numerous competitors but creating an ‘artificial’ identity does not have the same effect or staying power than simply brewing good beer and being themselves.

    The one gimmick that sticks with me is when BrewDog decided that an outrageously high ABV beer was ‘needed’ but that was not enough, the bottle of that beer had to shoved up the butt of a rodent:

    [​IMG]

    There are many other choices out there for craft beer and it is my personal preference to not monetarily support the shenanigans of the BrewDog dudes.

    Cheers!
     
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  38. moodenba

    moodenba Zealot (553) Feb 2, 2015 New York

    Licorice in beer. In 1970 my roommate and I bought "Home Brewing Without Failure" by H. E. Bravery. Bravery specified licorice in a lot of recipes (we never added it). That book should have been titled "Home Brewing Failures". Fortunately, we soon found "A Treatise on Lager Beer" by Fred Eckhardt, and started making (barely) palatable extract-based homebrew. At the local San Diego "Wine Art" store, we were told that the ATF wasn't interested in homebrewers because they were more concerned about the para-militaries in the hills to the east.
     
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  39. officerbill

    officerbill Savant (962) Feb 9, 2019 New York
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    and villainy sells. Don't know if it is still the case, but the “villains” in pro wrestling were as big a draw (and sold as much merch) as the “good guys”.
     
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  40. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,429) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Oh, yeah - I had a copy of that, along with some other UK homebrew books, which, before legalization, were easier to find than US books. It was one of those books where, for equipment and ingredients, they told you to just go down to the Woolworth's and buy a dust bin and stop off at the chemist and pick up some milk sugar. (< I've got a story about that, didn't work in the US).

    Stegmaier Porter had a strong licorice flavor and the head of The Lion (after buying the Steg brands) even listed it as an ingredient in their porter in a book of newspaper columns he wrote. It seemed the proto-geek's attitude was it wasn't "authentic" (How good could it have been at $3.95/cs?) but I missed it after the company changed hands and went after the "crafty" market.

    Further back, A. Nugey's 1930s era Brewing Formulas Practically Considered also said, under Porter "Oft-times a small amount of licorice is used." During the same period, American Brewer magazine listed 3 different suppliers of Brewer's Licorice, so apparently it wasn't uncommon at the time.