Label requirements can be tricky-different rules apply to different states. Domestic beverages and imported beverages have different guidelines. The purpose of this blog is to clear up some of the confusion surrounding beer labels. For all intent and purposes I will focus on North Carolina rules since that is what I am most familiar with. There are many categories of alcoholic beverages, and I will be focusing on malt beverages.
First and foremost,
You need to include your brand name on the label. This is a no-brainer. Your brand name must appear on the front of the label.
The specific identity of the malt beverage must appear on the front of the container. Some examples of the class or type of product are: beer, ale, porter, lager, bock, stout, or other fermented beverages. In the Beer Law Center’s beer label (above) we identified as a lager. What classifies a malt beverage classified as a malt beverage? What about unfortified wine? The NC ABC Commission provides the requirements here.
For domestic malt beverages include the name and address of the bottler or packer with one of the phrases “BREWED AND BOTTLED/PACKED BY,” “BREWED BY,” OR “BOTTLED/PACKED BY.”
The address for domestic malt beverages is the city and state where the malt beverage is bottled or packed. For example, in the above label since Beer Law Center is a domestic malt beverage only the city and state are shown.
The placement for the name and address of the bottler or packer must be on the front of the container.
In regards to imported malt beverages, the name and address of the importer must appear on the label with one of the phrases “IMPORTED BY,” “SOLE AGENT,” OR “SOLE U.S. AGENT.”
The address can include the city and state of the importer’s principal place of business (address shown on the permit).
The placement for the name and address of the importer can appear on the front, back or side of the container.
The net contents of the malt beverage must be displayed on the label. There are specific requirements on how to display a malt beverage’s net contents. For example, if the net contents of the container are less than 1 pint then the net contents should be in fluid ounces (as seen in the Beer Law label above).
The net contents must be placed on the front of the container.
The alcohol content is tricky. Sometimes state law requires it; sometimes it’s not required. For example, in NC any malt beverage containing more than 6.0% alcohol needs to be clearly labeled.
The alcohol content must be show as:
- ALCOHOL (ALC) ____% BY VOLUME (VOL) or
- ALCOHOL (ALC) BY VOLUME (VOL) ____% or
- ___% ALCOHOL (ALC) BY VOLUME (VOL) or
- ___% ALCOHOL (ALC)/VOLUME (VOL)
The alcohol placement can be found on the front, back, or side of the container.
*the Federal Government Health Warning as required by Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms must also be present on the label. This warning must appear on all alcoholic beverages for sale or distribution in the US. The placement can be on the front, back, or side of the malt beverage container.
Three important tidbits to keep in mind with the warning statement:
- “GOVERNMENT WARNING” must be in capital letters and in bold type.
- The remainder of the statement doesn’t need to be in bold.
- Must be a continuous paragraph.
The warning needs to appear exactly as seen below; no exceptions.
GOVERNMENT WARNING: (1) According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects. (2) Consumption of alcoholic beverages impairs your ability to drive a car or operate machinery, and may cause health problems.
Keep in mind that what goes on your label depends on what class/type of product you are advertising.
If you have any questions, please reach out to us at 919-335-5291 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org