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You have probably heard of the independent craft brewers seal created by the Brewers Association. The seal might already be on your beers. But what is this seal and what does this seal represent?

The idea of placing the seal on your beer label is so people can identify what beer is from craft brewers versus beer produced by non-craft companies. It seems like nowdays everyone wants to know the origin or birthplace of what they’re drinking. Craft beer is all the rage. In theory this seal helps beer drinkers support the local, craft brewery.

But, one must meet some criteria to qualify for the seal. What are the qualifications?

  1. Valid TTB Brewers Notice;
  2. Meet the Brewers Association’s definition of a craft brewery; and
  3. Sign a licensing agreement.

This may seem like a stupid question to some (alright, many), but what constitutes a craft brewery?

Craft Brewer Defined

“An American craft brewer is small, independent, and traditional.” (Brewers Association)


  • Annual production of 6 million barrels of beer or less


  • Less than 25% of the craft brewery is owned or controlled by alcohol industry member that is not itself a craft brewer


  • A brewery that has a majority of its total beverage alcohol volume in beers flavor derives from traditional or innovative brewing ingredients and their fermentation.

The following points can apply to craft breweries, but not necessarily all craft breweries (think New Belgium Brewing in Asheville)

  • Craft brewers are small
  • Craft brewers tend to be involved in their communities through volunteerism and sponsorship of events
  • Craft beer is generally made with traditional ingredients like malted barley

Where do I put the seal?

The seal can be placed on packaging, marketing materials, websites, tap handles, menus, and other materials used solely in connection with their products.

*It is important to note that you are not required to use the independent craft brewer seal. But for now using the seal is free for Brewers Association members.

Do I need to change my labels with the addition of the seal?

The short answer is no. The Brewers Association has written acknowledge from the Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) that a revised Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) is not needed for label changes where the addition of the independent craft brewer seal is the only substantive change.

As you can tell the Brewers Association has made it as easy as possible for brewers to seamlessly adopt the seal onto their beer. It might be worth a shot to try it.

To read more about the independent brewer seal visit

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If you have any questions please do not hesitate to email me at or or call 919-335-5291.

Be sure to check out Beer Law Center and Matheson Law Office for all things NC legal.

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