Thursday, July 10, 2014

Jester King vs the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission

At the Craft Brewers Conference in Denver this year, time was taken during proceedings on the first morning to present the Brewers Association's "Defence of the Industry Award". Normally I'd find an award with a title like that a little cheesy, but in 2014 the award was well named and well deserved. The recipient was Ron Extract of Jester King Brewery in Texas.

Until a couple of years ago, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code banned breweries from telling customers where they could find their beer. It also had rules about labelling that defied all accepted international standards. These rules said that any beer under 4% ABW (alcohol by weight) had to be labelled a lager, even if it was an ale, and anything over 4% had to be labelled an ale, even if it was a lager. And they weren't allowed to state the alcohol percentage in any other way.

Jester King took the TABC to court over their own code and won. From here it looks like a fantastic victory for the rights of brewers and consumers. And, dare I say it, it looks like a victory for common sense.

As if to show just how fearless Jester King and its people are, Ron Extract (apparently his real name) used his acceptance speech to make some pointed comments about the rules surrounding the rights that distributors in Texas have at the expense of brewers. There's a good chance that the targets of his fresh complaints were in the audience at the time.

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