Alcohol

No Baby Pics on Beer Labels, Says New Hampshire Governor

...because that would encourage underage drinking, obviously.

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Founders' Breakfast Stout Beer
Mike Mozart / Flickr

What's one way to curb underage drinking? Ban depictions of babies on beer labels, of course:

Gov. Maggie Hassan [D-N.H.] on Tuesday vetoed a measure that would have allowed some images of minors to grace alcoholic beverage labels as long as they didn't encourage young people to drink.

Republican state Rep. Keith Murphy, who runs a popular tavern, sponsored the bill because he wanted to be able to buy Breakfast Stout, crafted by Founders Brewery Co. in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The beer's label depicts a chubby, Norman Rockwell-esque baby scooping oatmeal into his mouth.

Hassan said allowing the images could undermine the state's efforts to fight underage drinking.

The bill wouldn't have granted automatic approval for the labels; instead, it would have "given the state's Liquor Commission discretion to approve or deny labels," according to the article from WMUR9.

The Liquor Commission—tasked with regulating alcohol sales in the state—sided with Hassan, preferring a "bright line standard," as James Wilson, the Commission's director of enforcement and licensing, called it, over using its best judgment on a case-by-case basis:

Murphy's bill would have given the state's Liquor Commission discretion to approve or deny labels. He said he could understand the commission denying a label showing college kids partying but not the Breakfast Stout depiction.

"No reasonable person would believe that this label is intended to appeal to minors in any way," he said.

New Hampshire isn't alone in its dubious panic over beer labels appealing to children. According to an article from All About Beer, Maine denied approval for beer importer Shelton Brothers to bring in Ridgeway Brewing's Santa's Butt Winter Porter:

Maine authorities objected because the image of Santa might appeal to children. "We said that made no sense. A 5- or 6-year-old is not going to be able to purchase a bottle of beer," [said Dan Shelton].

In addition to state-level labeling requirements, brewers also have to get label approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). That agency does evaluate each label, although the process leaves many brewers frustrated by "arbitrary decisions over matters not mentioned in the regs," according to the All About Beer piece:

[Epic Ales brewer and manager Cody Morris'] label for Terra-saurus was shot down because of the description "a meaty ale." Notes Morris: "They rejected it because they thought 'meaty' implied I put meat in my beers."…Morris changed "meaty" to "toothy" and the TTB nixed that adjective as well as a "non-accepted term."

Eventually, he did manage to get a label approved:

Morris submitted paperwork for a product called Simple Ale, whose label is printed in a generic black and white with simple block lettering and no extraneous designs. That one sailed through.

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  1. Breakfast Stout is a terrible beer anyway.

    1. Blasphemer.

      1. Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout is better.

        1. “Better”? I’m not sure. But definitely good.

    2. Stupid sexy Flanders, Breakfast Stout is pretty tasty.

      1. I feel like it tries to be too much. I haven’t had it in 2 years, but when I did have it, I didn’t like it. I’ve found many other stouts more enjoyable.

        1. You need to try the KBS version. It really is fantastic.

          1. Supposedly KBS is a different beer, it’s not Breakfast Stout aged in bourbon barrels.

          2. Hmmm, I’ll keep an eye out for it!

            1. KBS is also only available for one month (April if I remember correctly) and in small quantities.

      2. I’ve only had it once. I thought it was pretty good.

    3. I don’t even know what to say to this other than that there’s something horribly wrong with you. Next you’ll be criticizing Zombie Dust.

      1. Never tried it, but I do like Pale Ale.

  2. It’s literally impossible to underestimate the stupidity of our governing class.

    1. The governing class also considers the public to be extremely stupid. It’s possible an additional reason for their ban was the thought that some people would assume it’s baby formula.

    2. Hey, man, if Joe Camel made teens smoke because he was the coolest camel that smoked in an ad ever, then surely this super attractive baby will lead other babies to drink it’s product.

      Think of the CHILDREN?!

  3. Read that in the local paper yesterday.

    Dum, da-dumb, dumb, duuuuuumb…

  4. They’d have a field day with my friend’s Orgasmic Dragon (it’s a raspberry stout). They label is NSFW, but very amusing.

  5. “Murphy’s bill would have given the state’s Liquor Commission discretion to approve or deny labels. He said he could understand the commission denying a label showing college kids partying but not the Breakfast Stout depiction.”

    Yeah, the only reason college kids don’t drink is because there are no labels on beer showing college kids drinking. Imagine the sort of bacchanalian orgy that might transpire on college campuses of college kids ever thought “Hey, apparently we can drink beer!”

    1. “I’m glad i looked closely at the beer label in order to figure that out!”

      1. Ever since Breakfast Stout went on sale, there’s been a major upswing in infant alcoholism in the area around Grand Rapids.

        1. If by infant you mean legislator, you are probably correct.

          1. Mental infants, anyway.

  6. Maine authorities objected because the image of Santa might appeal to children. “We said that made no sense. A 5- or 6-year-old is not going to be able to purchase a bottle of beer,” [said Dan Shelton].

    You’re expecting reason from these people, Dan?

  7. Labels are tricky, man. One time i looked at a bag of Goldfish crackers, and now i’m a decorative carp.

    1. I hate it when that happens.

    2. but are you now made with real cheese baked right in?

      1. Yeah, but i was before too.

  8. I saw, and might have linked into a Hit & Run comment section, an article on the then-proposed bill. Keith Murphy showed up in the comments section to defend his bill.

    Folks were blasting him for looking out for his own interests. In other words, he just wanted to sell this beer. He jumped in to point out that Founder’s Breakfast Stout is available in kegs in New Hampshire, and his bar is one that carries it on tap. If this bill passed, the Liquor Commission could allow sales of Breakfast Stout in bottles, which would hurt his business. As expected, logic and reason did not get through to that set of critics.

    Another set of critics blasted him for standing up for an out-of-state business. “You should be supporting NH businesses!” Murphy pointed out that if the Liquor Commission allowed sales of Breakfast Stout in bottles under this bill, NH businesses would have more variety of beer to sell, thus helping them out. As expected, logic and reason went nowhere.

    Live Free or Die!

    1. “”You should be supporting NH businesses!””

      There’s also the minor issue that Michigan and New Hampshire are in the same country and that it’s moronic to whine about products from another part of your own fucking country getting sold in your town. Do they bitch because people buy cars from Detroit rather than opening up backyard auto manufacturers in Manchester, NH?

      1. Do they bitch because people buy cars from Detroit rather than opening up backyard auto manufacturers in Manchester, NH?

        Don’t give the shit-flingers any ideas.

        1. They do need a manufacturing base after Slyvania closed.

  9. Having the Saint Archer DIPA wIth lunch today. Hope it gies well with a cheeseburger.

  10. I heard somewhere that getting labels approved is actually the biggest problem when brewers want to roll out a new product. We’re talking anywhere from a few months to a year, just to get permission to slap a piece of paper onto a bottle. Brewers have had to delay or even scrap seasonal beers because the approval process is so time consuming. Got an idea for a nice Spring ale? Don’t plan on making it until the following year, because it’s going to take that long to get the label approved.

    It’s fucking ridiculous.

    1. I was shocked that the now-defunct Manchester Brewing got the label for their “Over-regulated Ale” approved.

      1. Or Stone Coast’s 420 IPA. Google it. It makes you want to rip off the label and smoke it.

      2. They got permission from their betters, did they not? I’d hardly call that over regulated.

        1. Sarcasm? Or not? Sorry, my sarc-o-meter isn’t working right today.

    2. I actually worked in the industry, and I can confirm. Label approval is a major hurdle. Not only do you have to meet federal req’s, you have to meet them for every state in which you plan to distribute your beer. Huge pain in the ass, not to mention cost.

  11. Do they actually think the kid depicted is drinking beer with a spoon out of a bowl?

    These people are either stupid or evil, or both.

  12. Live FREE OR DIE!

  13. “In addition to state-level labeling requirements, brewers also have to get label approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). That agency does evaluate each label…”

    Isn’t that prior restraint?

    1. lowest common denominator

    2. It’s viewed legally not as a restriction on communication, but on sale of a product, because you’re allowed to publish it w/o approval if not in cx with a product’s sale. Like as art, for instance, or as a fake label for a nonexistent product.

  14. Can we get a beer label showing a legislator being guillotined?

  15. Can someone explain to me how this isn’t a gigantic attack on freedom of speech and, furthermore, how this isn’t a commerce clause issue given that states can essentially ban other states’ goods at will by simply banning the types of advertising they use?

    That’s not a joke. What’s to stop me from coming up with some ludicrous argument about how some good’s advertising doesn’t meet our state’s standards and therefore must be banned? That seems like an awfully nifty way to engage in de facto protectionism without doing something illegal like slapping tariffs on another state’s goods.

    1. Someone has to tell them to stop. Gonna be you, mick?

    2. Because alcohol is icky and we must think of the children.

      In Texas you have to submit all labels for approval. You also can’t sell anything with a certain ABV% as beer- it must be ale.

    3. It’s all constitutional under Section 2. of the 21st Amendment.

    4. It is a giant attack on freedom of speech. Unfortunately, the government doesn’t see it this way. I have a vague memory from an IJ newsletter about a case they were arguing where they hoped the Supreme Court would rule that commercial speech is protected like political speech. I’d go look for it, but I can’t right now.

      1. That ship sailed after the advertising ban on tobacco.

    5. There is no way something invented with the best of intentions can be used in horrible ways one could have predicted if one had given the matter ten seconds’ thought.

      Unpossible. No chocolate ration for you, and let that be a stern lesson.

  16. “Hey, there, bartender, lemme have a My Little Pony Pale Ale, a Chateau Teletubbies Riesling, and a Jack Daniels, you know, the Spongebob Squarepants label.”

  17. The comments on the linked article are heartening:

    “Chi Epsilon ? 3 days ago
    Thank you for protecting me Maggie! I’ve gone nearly 4 hours without the urge to drink beer out of baby head!”

    “When I was a minor I only drank stouts. Said no one ever.”

    “My kid saw the picture with this story, she’s now a hopeless alcoholic. Oh why couldn’t the state have interceded and stopped this picture from being posted??”

    1. Judge the value of a site by the cynical sarcasm of it’s commenters.

  18. He said he could understand the commission denying a label showing college kids partying but not the Breakfast Stout depiction.

    “Grab a motherfucking beer”

    1. +1 Grab It’s Motherfucking Beer

  19. What? No links to this vintage Blatz ad?

  20. Teenagers love babies. The best way to attract them to a product is to slap a picture of an ugly baby on it. Good veto, Gov.

  21. Czech Republic’s #1 beer, Gambrinus, portrays itself as craft beer as part of marketing campaign

    But what to make of this stunt? For an informed opinion I called Max Bahson, who blogs under the name Beer Philosopher.

    “If we leave the questionable ethics and [laughs] probably illegality aside, I find it brilliant in some way.

    “It showed that Gambrinus, a beer that is despised by many beer drinkers these days, can pass as the product of a microbrewery without anyone even thinking that it could be from a microbrewery.”

  22. Governor Skeletor is a piece of shit.

  23. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,
    go to tech tab for work detail ????????????? http://www.workweb40.com

  24. Good decision. In India no such law i guess.

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