Breweries Not Listing ABV on Their Packaged Product

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by Immortale25, Jun 13, 2018.

  1. Immortale25

    Immortale25 Poo-Bah (3,011) May 13, 2011 North Carolina

    Okay, so this thread has existed in the past but it was locked down with the reason being that the final post was saying "you can just Google it." I would like to re-open this topic to the forum based on two factors:
    1. When I'm putting beers in my fridge for after I get off work, it's inconvenient for me to have to Google the ABV, especially if I'm in a hurry, and makes it more difficult to plan my night. First world problems for sure, but it leads me to what I really want to know:
    2. Why would a brewery choose to NOT list the ABV? Seriously, they know the ABV in the first place. What legitimate reason do they have to keep that info off the label?
    Case in point: I grab a can of @Sixpoint Barrel-Aged Righteous out of my cellar today and I'm searching for the ABV on the can, to no avail. I remember seeing ABVs listed on their other products and am perplexed that it's nowhere to be seen in this instance where it's most important given the assumed high gravity of this particular beer.

    As was revealed in the previous thread, on a national level, beers are not required to list the ABV but each state has its own unique regulations pertaining to the subject. My question still remains, even if you're not required to by law, why would you withhold that information to the consumer? It has nothing to do with purchasing decisions but rather responsibility, meaning I want to know at a second's notice how much a particular beer will put me further towards the possibility of intoxication, especially if I'm out and about in a social setting. I shouldn't have to pull out my phone and Google it when the brewer can just slap it on the bottle or can to make the consumer's life that much easier. Am I wrong?

    Edit: with regards to the Sixpoint beer in question, I have found that the ABV is on the bottom of the can. Yet I still stand firm with my query and would like to know if Shane from Sixpoint has any insight to this matter since I come across it rather often (mostly beers from Wisconsin and Indiana though)
    HorseheadsHophead and GreenBayBA like this.
  2. MostlyNorwegian

    MostlyNorwegian Devotee (494) Feb 5, 2013 Illinois

    It's a distribution thing for the most part. Breweries don't necessarily need to have the abv information on their labels.
    In regards to a barrel aged beer. That's honestly a crap shoot. If you have to do more than one run of something to get it packaged. Yeesh.
    WIth the over/under variance labeling that limited space providing such information allows. It's not something that would work for a BA type of beer without some prescient foresight as to what goes where and when it gets racked to be packaged. Re: Goose with the multiple labels for BCBS with the specific run number information.
  3. Lahey

    Lahey Disciple (357) Nov 12, 2016 Michigan

    I wonder if they leave it off in hopes that people will just buy it rather than worry if they're getting enough alcohol for the buck. Probably not the reason, but maybe...
  4. SCW

    SCW Poo-Bah (1,691) Jul 25, 2004 New York
    Premium Industry

    The Righteous Ale and some of our other barrel-aged beers are the only ones where you will see the ABV listed on the bottom of the can. All other times the ABV is prominently displayed on the front of the can and the cardboard wrap.

    The reason is simple and clear: as a brewer, we do not know the exact ABV for the final blended version of a barrel-aged beer. However, the can has to be registered months in advance for label approval.

    So what we do is register the can, and then print the ABV on the bottom of the can along with the code date once the final lab results come in with the exact ABV prior to packaging.

    Hope this creates a better understanding.
  5. bbtkd

    bbtkd Poo-Bah (2,060) Sep 20, 2015 South Dakota

    I once read a post or article from a brewer indicating that brewers have to go to great pains to blend batches in order to get close to a predetermined ABV, which implies you're big enough to have multiple batches on hand at once. And some don't get very close. Some have taken to saying that ABV varies, possibly giving a ballpark or target, and leaving it at that.
  6. cavedave

    cavedave Poo-Bah (2,441) Mar 12, 2009 New York

    Seems like an easy enough thing to do, and important enough, such as putting bottling/canning dates onto the product, and it is baffling why they wouldn't just give that info to consumers always.

    That said, I can't remember looking for ABV on a container and can't find it. Don't always look, TBH, but I will now.
  7. Donco

    Donco Devotee (433) Aug 12, 2013 Pennsylvania

    This is one of my primary Beer-Pet-Peeves. I actually won't buy a beer that doesn't list the ABV on the can or bottle. And yet....I would concede this comes under the category of "First World Problem" :laughing:
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  8. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,010) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    I understand the points listed by @Sixpoint above and have no problem with varying ABV within a brand or even from batch to batch, this is a craft product after all, and no, I don't expect them to the approval process over and over as changes in recipes and tweaks in processes result in different ABV from time to time. In fact I encourage such ongoing evolution.

    What I don't understand and frankly find unacceptable is the refusal to list any ABV if it's just a simple matter of including that info onto the bottom of the can along with a bottling date. The inkjet printer is already programmed to print daily changing information so there shouldn't be any additional cost to the brewer except ink which is cheap.
  9. jesskidden

    jesskidden Meyvn (1,334) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey

    Do they? The TTB requirement for labels that do list ABV includes:
    ... and I imagine there are some brewers whose beers vary enough from batch to batch, that it'd be easier not to print the ABV on the labels. And there are likely many small breweries that don't really "know" the exact ABV (within that tolerance) on every batch of their beer.

    That's fine on websites, etc., but it wouldn't get by the TTB on a COLA label approval, because of the tolerance noted above.

    Well, there are some states with different requirements and still some that limit ABV or have specific labeling requirement for beers over/under a certain alcohol content, but, in general, most states follow the Federal TTB regulations.

    When Coors won their "free speech" suit back in the 1990s over listing ABV on beer labels, the big brewers (AB in particular IIRC - since Coors didn't want to have different labels for different states) went to a number of larger states and had them simply change their ABC laws to be in-line with the then-BATF permitted ABV listing.

    Yeah, I agree with that - it's been a long time since I've found a label w/o the ABV content listed. I guess if it meant that much to me, I just wouldn't buy such a beer.

    Contrary to popular belief, the brewing industry agreed with the Feds that ABV shouldn't be listed on beer labels after Repeal, as quoted in a previous post on the topic. When the regulation was changed in the '90s, neo-Prohibitionist groups like MADD again, while agreeing that knowing the alcohol content info was a valid concern, brought up the fear of a ABV "arms race". And that kinda did happen - both in the craft segment and the "macro" segment of malt liquors, FMBs and other "high gravity" brews. At the dawn of the "craft era" when M. Jackson's first Pocket Guide to Beer came out in the early '80s, the highest regularly released US beers were Ballantine IPA and Olde English 800 "the strongerst beer in the US", both at 6 abw/7.5 abv.
    #9 jesskidden, Jun 13, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2018
  10. GetTheYayo

    GetTheYayo Devotee (412) Aug 26, 2012 Pennsylvania

    This. It's so annoying. I've actually not purchased beers before solely because there is no ABV listed on the bottle/packaging.
    Donco likes this.
  11. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,010) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
    Premium Trader

    Also printing bottling/canning date along with ABV on the outside of the case is not good enough. When the cases arrive at the store they are broken down, the six packs placed on the shelves and the case boxes discarded which means we consumers never see them.
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  12. AZBeerDude72

    AZBeerDude72 Meyvn (1,343) Jun 10, 2016 Arizona
    Premium Trader

    Thanks for the input :beers:
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  13. Troutbeerbum

    Troutbeerbum Initiate (91) Dec 5, 2016 Maine

    Or smeared ink dates on the bottom of the can or distorted on the can base. I can think of one brewer in Maine that is notorious for this. Can’t read the date, not buying it.
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