Thanks to everyone involved who worked to make this happen.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: July 17, 2012
Governor Signs AB 1812 Protecting Barrel-aged Beer
Sacramento, CA – July 16, 2012 – Governor Jerry Brown on Friday signed AB 1812 (Chesbro D-Arcata), a bill that ensures beer aged in used wooden barrels will continue to be taxed, licensed, regulated and labeled as "beer" throughout California.
The bill, sponsored by the California Craft Brewers Association passed both chambers of the Legislature unanimously.
The CCBA sponsored the bill due to the concern that current law creates legal ambiguity on how wooden barrel-aged beers are to be defined and categorized for purposes of taxation and regulation. Because barrel-aged beers receive some of their flavor from the alcohol in the wood, they could be considered distilled spirits -- and thus taxed at a much higher rate. They might also be regulated as distilled spirits, and because of state licensing mandates, a beer manufacturer would therefore not be allowed to make barrel-aged beers.
AB 1812 will provide clarity that beer aged in re-purposed empty wooden barrels will continue to be defined as beer.
"This is a very important bill to the growing craft beer industry in the state,” said Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the CCBA. “California craft brewers have become literally world renown for their unique interpretation and adaptation of ageing beers in wood barrels. AB 1812 will ensure that this exciting brewing process will continue to thrive."
California’s craft beer industry has gained worldwide acclaim for their use of wooden barrels to age craft beers. These empty wooden barrels are expensive and are typically recycled by craft brewers from previous use by the wine or distilled spirits industries. The re-purposing of these empty wooden barrels imbues unique character and complex flavor profiles to the beer.
“This bill is common-sense legislation that will allow California’s craft brewers to continue to grow their businesses creatively, adding jobs and providing a bright spot in the state economy,” said Steve Wagner, president of Stone Brewing Co.
There are currently over 290 craft brewers in the state. The craft brewing segment has grown consistently despite the overall beer industry being down in recent years. Last year craft beer sales grew 13% nationally with similar growth reported in California.
California Craft Brewers Association