What is beer? Ah, a weighty question. Some may define beer as simply: any alcoholic beverage obtained by the fermentation of an infusion or decoction of barley, malt, hops and water. Succinct. That’s how California used to define beer (well, still does till next year). That legal definition has been a problem for many a craft brewer who wanted to experiment outside those simple parameters. For instance, the addition of honey or fruit might entail a separate license. From ABC 10 out of Sacramento:
“Beer was defined as a serial malt beverage, so anytime you added fruit you started to get into wine territory,” [Peter] Hoey said [co-founder and brewmaster at Urban Roots Brewing and Smokehouse].
“That required a separate license to be able to ferment fruit sugars and so the challenge for breweries was you’re not allowed to concurrently hold a wine license and a beer license,” Hoey explained.
This bill would revise the definition of “beer” for purposes of California’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Act, stating that “beer may be produced using honey, fruit, fruit juice, fruit concentrate, herbs, spices, and other food materials, as adjuncts in fermentation.” The bill will go into effect next year.