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California Introduces “Anti-Caffeinated Malt Beverages” Bill

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Recently, there has been much concern in the California craft beer industry that a new state Assembly Bill will prohibit brewers from using coffee in the brewing process.

The bill would prohibit the import, production, manufacture, distribution, or sale of caffeinated malt beverages, as defined, at retail locations within the state. This means that beverage institutions would not only be prohibited from making caffeinated malt beverages, they would be completely banned from even entering the state.

The State Legislature has declared a list of ten “findings” that supports its decision to enact this bill. In my opinion, most of its arguments are ludicrous. 

From Section 1 (G) of the bill:
The marketing of malt beverage products containing caffeine and other stimulants appears to be directed primarily at young people through the use of nontraditional marketing campaigns, including interacting with consumers through social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook and product giveaways at events during spring break or extreme sports venues.

Really? Really? Are you serious? Give me a break.

Luckily, it appears as if the craft beer industry will not be affected by this bill as much as some people might assume. In regards to beer, the bill would prohibit:
a beverage containing at least 0.5 percent alcohol by volume that is treated by processing, filtration, or another method of manufacture that is not generally recognized as a traditional process in the production of beer, as described in Section 25.55 of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations, to which is added a flavor or other ingredient containing alcohol, except for a hop extract, and caffeine or other stimulants, alone or in combination, including, but not limited to, guarana, ginseng, and taurine.

After speaking with a few brewers about this, most of them don’t seem too concerned about it affecting the ability to produce coffee beers in the state of California. The bill prohibits the addition of stimulant extracts – i.e. straight up caffeine extracted from a caffeinated source – to beer. Most craft brewers use fresh roasted, fresh ground coffee beans in the brewing process, which to my understanding, is legal.

To my knowledge, there aren’t any brewers in the state planning on ceasing coffee beer production. It appears that this bill would have the greatest affect on the “malt beverage” industry and not the craft beer industry. But, only time will tell. 


  1. Erin | Monday, March 8, 2010

    I love coffee beer, that would be so sad if it went away.

    Unlike Energyologist Jeff Dorenbush, I can’t drink energy drinks. Blech. But, shouldn’t people be able to decide that for themselves? Food and bev laws in CA just floor me sometimes, next thing you know I’ll have to hide cheese in my bra and tape hard cider to my ankles just to get it across the border.

  2. Phil | Monday, March 8, 2010

    Its nice to see the CA Legislature can pass laws about the caffeine content in booze, ban cursing for a week, but yet can’t balance a budget. Hey CA, have you seen the state of your infrastructure? Its crap.

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