What’s in Your Beer?

It’s official, and it’s your choice as a brewer or brewery owner … for now, at least.

The Beer Institute announced this week a new initiative to encourage its member companies to share more dietary information with consumers.

The new plan, called “The Brewers’ Voluntary Disclosure Initiative” can include information such as a serving facts statement or an ingredients list, just like a standard box of donuts, chips, soda or any other packaged food. That would include calories, carbohydrates, protein, fat and alcohol by volume.

Although this move comes from the Beer Institute, which focuses more on macro-sized breweries, it could have an effect for craft beer companies that have some of the big guys helping pay the bills.

Anheuser-Busch, MillerCoors, HeinekenUSA, Constellation Brands, North American Breweries and Craft Brew Alliance are all a part of The Beer Institute. Once those labels pop up on craft beer containers, it could look like other independent craft breweries have something to hide. Which, of course, they don’t. But perception is a powerful thing.

Here’s the good thing, especially for smaller breweries that want to be transparent, yet can’t afford a packaging remodel right now, can use technology to save some cash.

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This voluntary program says all the information can be shared on either the label or secondary packaging via a list of ingredients, a reference to a website with the information or through a QR code. In addition, these BI members will provide freshness dating.

Many brands have already started to incorporate these labels onto packaging or on websites. But participating brewers and importers are being encouraged to achieve compliance across their product lines by the end of 2020.

“The Beer Institute, and its member companies, believes this is a step in the right direction to demonstrate a commitment to quality and transparency through these voluntary measures. Beer is the most popular alcohol beverage in the United States, and I look forward to brewers and importers including a serving facts statement along with disclosing all ingredients in their products,” said Beer Institute President and CEO Jim McGreevy in a statement. “Providing meaningful information will ultimately empower the consumer when making decisions regarding the beer beverage of their choice.”

Here’s the thing. Most craft beer is pretty transparent already. Many beers come with a list of ingredients in the name alone.

Although you can applaud the effort to show the man behind the curtain, it still comes off as placating the public instead of actually teaching them what is in beer and how flavors can be imparted by many different grains and hops.

For the most part, you are still going to see malted barley, water, hops and yeast in the list of ingredients for craft beer.

Not much more than that.

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