Normally, I only post articles about beer reviews, beer events, home brewing, and cooking with beer but something a little more political and beer related recently caught my attention. I was reading a post by @DevilsCanyon that linked to California bill AB 1598, which outlaws malt beverages that contain caffeine. I’m not lawyer or legislator but there seems to be some issues with this bill that could lead to outlawing coffee stout.
The bill language and some reference links can be found at the following locations:
- AB 1598
- AB 1598 Status
- Subpart F of Section 25.55 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations
- Chapter 51 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations
Below are the questions and concerns that I have about the bill:
- Does it or does it not outlaw beverages such as coffee stouts?
- This is my biggest concern. Will it prevent me from home brewing my own coffee porter or stouts?
- There seems to be a section that exempts beer such as stout, porter, ale, lager, etc. but to me it is not that obvious.
- It leaves the terminology for “stimulants” open ended.
- I interpret (or misinterpret) a situation where somebody like Uncommon Brewers might have to cease producing some of there beer if somebody considers anise or licorice or something else a stimulant, despite the fact that they have received FDA approval for their beer.
- It makes a bunch of assertions to justify the existence of this bill, some of which are hokey, false, or without proof.
- For instance, according to the bill, social networking sites, like Facebook and MySapce, are used to market to, specifically, young people. I guess the California legislature knows the Facebook demographics better than Facebook. The truth is the 18-25 demographic on Facebook is shrinking percentage-wise. In March 2009, it was down to 35%.
- Does caffeine and alcohol really impair you ability to know how drunk you are? Maybe there is a study for this but I’d like to read the study before it gets jammed into law as fact.
- The law outlaws caffeinated malt beverages but doesn’t touch Red Bull vodka. This is also a slippery slope, will Red Bull vodka be next? What about rum and coke?
- I was looking for Title 26 Section 5092 for the definition of “brewer” but could not find it and it seems that 5052(d) has replaced 5092 but I’m not certain.
What do you think of this AB 1598? Does it outlaw coffee stout and porter?
Update: March 9, 2010 9:20am
Mario from Brewed For Thought contacted and received a response from Tom McCormick of the California Small Brewers Assoc. which indicates that there should be no concern, yet, about this bill.
Currently we are in direct talks with the bill’s author, Assemblyman Jim Beall (Santa Clara). We expect to amend this bill fully so that it has no impact on craft brewers. If that changes for any reason, we will certainly look at a letter writing campaign etc.
Thanks for your support!
California Small Brewers Assoc.
Personally, I won’t be unconcerned until the bill is dead. This bill has a slippery slope down which we should not slide.
I also found a few more links this morning:
- Beer Advocate Forums: Coffee Brews Threatened in California (Assembly Bill 1598)
- Coffee ales and lagers threatened in California by Charlie Papazian
Update: March 9, 2010 at 11:22am
Read the comments below. One read received a response from Jim Beall’s office as follows:
The Assemblymember is working with the craftsbrewer association to attempt to clarify the legislation. The intent of AB 1598 is to enforce federal legislation that prohibits alcoholic beverages that are spiked with stimulants.
Senior Field Representative
If this is the case and the reason is to comply with federal regulations, then why is there all of that mumbo-jumbo in sections (a) through (j) of the bill? This bill needs a lot of work. They need to remove (a) through (j) and simply state it that the intent of this bill is to comply with the enforcement of federal regulations.
But now I ask, if there is already a federal regulation, why does California need a law on the books?
Update: March 10, 2010
I received a message on Twitter from @beerwars that this issue is similar to an ongoing investigation by the FDA. Here’s some details about that investigation: http://www.lawyersandsettlements.com/blog/whats-in-your-kids-favorite-drink-big-brother-wants-to-know-01896.html
Jim Beall, California Assembly District 24
This bill was introduced by Jim Beall from District 24, which covers Santa Clara and parts of San Jose. Here is some information about Jim Beall:
- California Assembly web page on Jim Beall Jr.
- Jim Beall’s Assembly member home page
- Jim Beall for State Assembly 2010
- Jim Beall for State Senate 2012
- Campaign contributions for 2010 campaign
- Campaign contributions for 2012 campaign
- Email: Assemblymember.Beall@assembly.ca.gov
California Assembly Committee on Governmental Organization
This bill is currently in committee with the Committee on Governmental Organization. If your representative is on this list, then please send them an email with your displeasure about this bill. If you representative is not on the list, then send an email to Jim Beall or the committee chair, Joe Coto, District 23.
- Members of the Committee on Governmental Organization
- Joe Coto, committee chair: Assemblymember.email@example.com