New TTB ruling widens definition of 'traditional' beer ingredients

Ruling would speed up formula, label approval

CINCINNATI -- A new trade board ruling in Washington means that brewers will soon be able to bring more barrel-aged and fruit and spice beers to your glass even faster.

The ruling from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was released Thursday and spells out fairly significant changes to the beer approval process.

The ruling grants more exceptions to ingredients such as fruit and spice, as well as barrel aging, and declares that the ingredients and processes are “traditional.”

RELATED: What's the TTB?

The “traditional” label means that the ingredients and processes don’t need TTB formula approval. According to the agency’s website, approval currently takes 74-75 days.

DCBrewLaw.com reports those ingredients and processes include:

Fruits: apples, apricots, blackberries, blueberries, cherries, cranberries, juniper berries, lemons, oranges, peaches, pumpkins, raspberries, and strawberries.

Spices: allspice, anise, pepper/peppercorns, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, cocoa (powder or nibs), coriander, ginger, nutmeg, orange or lemon peel or zest, star anise, and vanilla.

Other: brown sugar, candy (candi) sugar, chili peppers, chocolate, coffee (beans or grounds), honey, maple sugar/syrup, molasses/blackstrap molasses, and lactose.

Aging beer in barrel: (or using wood from barrels) that previously were (or were not) used to age wine or spirits, so long as the barrels do not contain a discernible quantity of wine or spirits.

Instead of waiting for formula approval, many brewers can now just apply for label approval.

DCBrewLaw.com speculates that the ruling could speed up the label process as well, because fewer labels will be hung up waiting for approval. The current wait time is about 17 days.

The ruling also provides guidelines to the brewers on how to properly describe the new “traditional” brews.

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