Among the many negative consequences of the October 1, 2013 shutdown of the Federal Government (though not the most tragic) is the furlough of most of the workers at the Federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), including the one person who approves labeling for new beers. This means that the TTB cannot approve new beers, including new seasonal beers, until the shutdown is over. And when the TTB does get back to work, the turn-around time for new beer approvals, which was running at about 12 days, is bound to be much longer because of the backlog.
But there is good news for local microbreweries.TTB approval is not required for new beers that will only be sold in-state. In a March 2013 ruling, the TTB announced that the TTB’s beer approval–called a “Certificate of Label Approval” (COLA)--is not required for beer that will be sold exclusively in the state in which it was bottled. New beer still has to comply with the marking, branding and labeling requirements under Federal law, including health warning statement requirements. Brewers may still need approval from their home state’s beer regulators (in Florida, the application is online), and they still need to comply with applicable state labeling laws. While we wait for the Federal Government to get back to work, we can still enjoy tasty new beers from our local microbreweries.
One Florida Brewery Operations Manager emailed us and shared his experience with the TTB regarding Brand Registration. The TTB had told this Brewery Operations Manager that, “intrastate sales do not require COLA the Florida Brand Registration does require a TTB COLA ID in order to register the brand. As you mentioned that it all depends on the state it seems as though FL breweries still need to get COLA even if it is in state sales only because the Florida DBPR requires a COLA ID in order to register a brand.”