On the heels of today’s announcement that the FDA will move to ban caffeine in alcoholic drinks, the Brewers Association announced that it will “formally petition the U.S. Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) to conduct rulemaking on alcoholic energy drinks.”
From the BA press release:
The petition seeks to disallow synthetic and pure caffeine additions to alcohol beverages, but allow incidental caffeine from ingredients that have a long tradition in brewing, such as coffee, chocolate and tea. The petition seeks to clarify that coffee, chocolate, herbs, spices, seeds and fruit are ingredients that should remain available to brewers to make beers for responsible enjoyment by beer drinkers.
Certain alcoholic energy drinks have received significant negative attention from state attorneys general, public health groups and concerned citizens. Many states are taking action this fall before the federal government has responded, leaving a patchwork of different regulatory wording, all with the same intention. The goal of this federal petition is to provide a clear and consistent national standard to assist state-based rulemaking under the 21st Amendment. This standard would remove the products of concern from shelves without creating unintended damage to the hundreds of craft brewers who, for many years, have been using traditional ingredients like coffee, tea and chocolate to responsibly craft interesting and flavorful beers.
Brewers Association President Charlie Papazian stated, “Responsible brewers have successfully used coffee, chocolate and tea to add interesting flavor and complexity to their beers for decades. In fact, the Aztecs brewed a corn, honey and chili-based beer that contained cocoa. Many craft brewers build on these traditions today using coffee, tea and chocolate. On the other hand, the addition of artificial caffeine not from a natural ingredient source has no heritage or tradition in brewing. We support a ban on the direct addition of caffeine.” The Brewers Association invites TTB to open up public comment and rulemaking on whether these products are appropriate for responsible consumption.
It would certainly be great if they can get the regulatory agencies to see that there is a difference between straight caffeine and the traditional “incidental caffeine” that occurs when beer is brewed using ingredients like coffee, tea, chocolate, herbs, spices, seeds and fruit. So often this type of knee-jerk law, that seeks to ban a substance being used in a specific way, has unintended consequences that harm legitimate uses of the substance. But there are dozens, if not more, legitimate ways in which caffeine can appear in a beer as a part of the brewing process. These do not, and should not, be subject to the same scrutiny that many other caffeine and alcohol drinks are being subjected to. They do not appeal to kids in any way, shape or form and should be protected as separate and distinct.
Save the Coffee Stouts!