Wednesday, 4 August 2010


Barleywine. Until about 3 hours ago the word pissed me off big time. No more:

"Anchor also started a subtle bit of label nomenclature here. Look closely at a bottle of Old Foghorn. It says "barleywine." One word. When Maytag first sought label approval for his barley wine from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, it balked at the use of the word "wine" on something not made from grapes. Recalling a bit of legal arcana, Maytag knew that if the beer was sold only in California, the state would allow him to use a label that hadn't been approved by the feds. To increase his chances with Sacramento regulators, Maytag called his brew "barleywine," running the two words together to hide the offending term. The label read: "Old Foghorn Barleywine Style Ale."

"They bought it," says Maytag. "It worked." ... 3TIBF1.DTL



Ryan said...

As a native Californian this makes me smile to no end.

Barm said...

Doesn't the somewhat clunky term "barleywine style ale" already imply that there's a legal reason not to call it barley wine?

Thomas Barnes said...

"Doesn't the somewhat clunky term "barleywine style ale" already imply that there's a legal reason not to call it barley wine?"

Obviously, but you underestimate the stupidity and bloody-mindedness of the various U.S. state regulatory agencies.

It's still somewhat bad now, but it was even worse during the 1970s when the bureaucrats couldn't quite grasp the concept that beer could be anything other than watery, fizzy yellow swill churned out by in lakes and sold in cans.

For those of you in the parts of the world where history goes back millenia rather than decades, understand that the U.S.A. delegates day-to-day authority in alcohol regulation to the states, while still maintaining overall regulatory and taxation authority through the federal government.

That means that a U.S. brewery with a nationally distributed beer needs to deal with 51 different regulatory agencies and 51 different sets of laws regarding the sale, transport, distribution, etc. of beer!

Sid Boggle said...

I think Smuttynose had similar trouble in 2005 with their Wheat Wine...