Barley Mowat 

The Chuck Standard

with 5 comments

It’s one thing to start a debate on a hot topic and another thing entirely to propose a solution. Recently there was a post and resulting, quality discussion here around how we should approach this proposed “Brewers Quality Alliance.” Lots of great details were posted by folks in the comments, and now I’ll repost those in a main article and take all the credit. You guys making blogging so very easy; thanks!

So, here is my proposal. BC LDB, are you listening to me? Is this thing even on? Not that it matters, this is now the Chuck Standard for labelling beer, and all subsequent standards will have to be discussed according to how they either did or did not improve upon or the Chuck Standard.

Chuck Standard for Retail Beer Packaging

(aka Brewers Quality Alliance Label)

Intent

The Chuck Standard is a consumer-focused standard aimed at providing purchasers of beer in the Province of British Columbia consistent, standardized information to allow informed, carefully considered purchasing decisions.


Uninformed, impulsive decisions can be reserved
for after you drink the beer
Yes, that is a Nic Cage pillowcase. Never sleep without nightmares again by clicking here

The Chuck Standard is defined and maintained by Consumer(s) (in this case, by Chuck, but I could use some help). Professional brewers, owners of breweries or holders of a Liquor Manufacturers license will have no say in defining and enforcing The Standard, due to conflicting interests.

Details

In order to be eligible to display the Brewers Quality Alliance (BQA) label, a packaged product must contain all of the following information. The information does not have to appear in any specific format or layout.

  • Where the beer was manufactured
  • The company that manufactured the beer (holder of the Manufacturer license)
  • Alcohol by Volume
  • International Bitterness Units (note: an approximate range of 20 IBU is acceptable, e.g. 20-40IBU)
  • Beer Style (see below)
  • Ingredients, in order of prevalence, including:
    • Malts contained in this beer
    • Hops varietals contained in this beer
    • Yeast species used in this beer
    • Non-barley sugar sources for fermentation (eg Wheat, Rye, Corn)
    • Non-malts/hops/yeast ingredients (specifics not required, e.g. “spices” or “brewing salts”)
  • Package must indicate the following techniques used, if applicable:
    • Filtration
    • Pasteurization
    • Preservatives not listed in ingredients
    • Bottle conditioned
    • Barrel aging
    • Negative methods (eg Unpasteurized) are optional but encouraged
  • Production date, as accurately as possible (season of production is acceptable)

Additionally, the term “BC BQA” may be displayed on products that are produced in BC by breweries wholly owned by BC interests.

There ya have it, folks. Some BC brewers are already compliant with this standard while many are not. Attention BC Brewers: don’t wait for The Man to enact this stuff, go ahead and start printing your Chuck Standard Compliant labels today!


Feel free to borrow this

Note on Beer Styles

The goal of The Standard is to provide consumers with some indication of what is in a bottle without simultaneously impeding the creativity that makes BC beer great. For that reason, The Standard simply requires that style be stated as specifically as possible, and accurately reflect the product in the bottle.

Use of overly broad styles such as “Lager”, “Ale” simply “Beer” or even omitting a style entirely is non-compliant. Refer to the list of 2008 BCJP styles for guidance, but do not feel compelled to list a fully qualified style. Examples of style declarations that are compliant: “16E Belgian Specialty Ale”, “Belgian Specialty Ale”, “Belgian Ale with Spices”, “Northwest Belgian Ale” or “Belgian Ale.”

Qualitative style descriptors are non-compliant, e.g.: “Refreshing Belgian Ale” or “Superb Belgian Ale” except where historically included in styles (specifically “Best Bitter”).

When declaring a style that matches an existing BCJP style or category, ensure that your product can be defended as part of that style. Do not attempt to market an American IPA with undetectable IBUs, for instance. It will not be compliant.

Written by chuck

April 8th, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Posted in Beer and You

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5 Responses to 'The Chuck Standard'

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  1. I think this solves a few problems with the desire to qualify beer labels.

    First, it avoids the politics of the “small” “independent” and “traditional” situation the BA finds itself in down south.

    Second, as such we won’t have to amend it every three years.

    Third, it solves the macro problem by putting enough hints on the label for people to avoid macros. “American Light Lager, made with corn?” = don’t drink it.

    Fourth, for small breweries that can’t afford to be compliant, appealing to walk-ins at the LDB shouldn’t really be your marketing focus (and let’s face it, that’s who this standard benefits). Small breweries likely either sell out or sell most of their product already, and to an educated consumer base who seeks them out. When they get big enough to keep a SKU at the LDB stocked long enough for folks to pick up their bottles our of sheer interest, they can likely afford to be compliant.

    chuck

    8 Apr 14 at 14:36

  2. Commercial breweries would balk at codifying BJCP guidelines into law. Hell, so would I.

    While they are being updated this year, they’re also too restricting and arbitrary to be a good basis for a law that likely won’t change for many, many years.

    If any guidelines were to be proposed, it should be the BA guidelines. Even then I’m not sure this part is a good idea.

    http://www.brewersassociation.org/pages/business-tools/publications/beer-style-guidelines

    Dave S.

    8 Apr 14 at 16:05

  3. It’s getting better.

    I still object to specifying malts. How specific do you want to be? Is “caramel malt” or “crystal malt” enough, or should the label say “Gambrinus 2-row Cara 45” or “Weyermann Caramunich III”? But if we don’t specify, how useful is it, because these two malts are super different from each other.

    And if I’m using more than one crystal malt, because I’m a nerd (and I am) and I like to layer them in my porter, do I need to list crystal 60, crystal 80 and crystal 120 separately? And if I do, are other brewers going to laugh at me for an overly-complicated grain bill with 10 malts in the same beer?

    I also sort of object to the IBU thing. Perception of bitterness is pretty subjective and isn’t that closely linked to the parts-per-million of alpha acids (which is what IBU is). Putting a number to it will influence that perception.

    And lastly, what Dave said. I wish we could stop Keith’s, but it’s not worth codifying beer styles and freezing them in place forever. If something like this had been put in place twenty or thirty years ago, IPAs would top out at 40 IBUs and brewers would have to call them specialty ales if they brewed anything remotely like an IPA today. Descriptive styles are good, but when we entrench them like this, they become prescriptive and beer stops changing.

    Ben Coli

    8 Apr 14 at 23:57

  4. I think the Chuck Standard is great example of what a craft beer consumer is interested in. Getting into specifics, for yeast, I think type is enough (e.g. Americal Ale). For malts I think main descriptors is enough so to say Crystal, 2-Row, Caramunich without getting into the brand used, for example Deschutes has clone recipes on their site that list like malts like this – Hop Trip Clone: Pale Ale Malt, CaraMunich Malt, Crystal Malt, Dextrin Malt. These are enough info to give the consumer an idea of what is in there without hitting the overkill level.

    Terry

    9 Apr 14 at 03:29

  5. @Ben Coli said: “…it’s not worth codifying beer styles and freezing them in place forever.”

    Who is proposing freezing them in place? Beer styles are still evolving (e.g. X IPA, India Pale Y, Imperial Z), so they are a work in progress. And, for that matter, they aren’t meant to be a straight jacket for brewers to conform to. The key word when it comes to BJCP is “guidelines”.

    Let’s not forget, styles are an important shorthand in giving the consumer some expectation of what beer they are buying. There is also a negative aspect to this in that those who try a beer from a particular style for the very first time and don’t like it, often have a tendency to completely write off trying any other beer from that style.

    Rick Green

    9 Apr 14 at 15:19

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