Posts Tagged ‘nutrition’

64 Proof Beer (More or Less)

Time Magazine calls the above beer one of the world’s strongest. It looks to be considerably stronger than any beer that the US rules can tolerate. In other countries, Tactical Nuclear Penguin is sold as a beer, at 32% alc./vol.

But this approval shows that, under US rules, this “Super-High-Alcohol-Beer” is actually a distilled spirit (Spirits Distilled from Grain). The Time article explains how BrewDog uses low temperatures to get the alcohol content so high:

the brewery was able to attain the high alcohol content by freezing the beer at a local ice cream factory, at temperatures as low as -6°C (21°F), for 21 days. Alcohol freezes at lower temperatures than water, and removing water from the solution increased the alcohol concentration.

Under US law, such manipulation of the alcohol may be treated as distillation. The Time article points to two even stronger products that at least start as normal beers (before becoming tactical or nuclear):

The drinking games continued in February when a German brewer, Schorschbrau, released a 40% ABV beer called Schorschbock. The BrewDog boys fired back a few weeks later with high-octane concoction Sink the Bismarck!, which checks in at 41%, enough to reclaim the “world’s strongest beer” mantle. …

There is no sign that these other two have been approved for US sale at all yet, let alone as beer.



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Posted in:

malt beverage, whisky

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TTB Not OK with Vitamin Wine


Controversy in a cup. This little shooter raises a lot of TTB issues. First of all, it’s a gel-shot and those can be controversial from time to time. Next, it is technically a wine but it has added spirits — in the form of citrus neutral spirits (vodka, for all intents and purposes) and flavors. But wait, there’s more. It contains caffeine. It contains taurine. And … it contains added vitamins, in the form of Vitamin B6 and B12 (pyridoxine and cyanocobalamin).

Not too surprisingly, this 2006 gem of an approval is also “surrendered” (see about halfway down the form).

As of this writing, TTB does not allow vitamins to be directly added to beer, wine or spirits. Until recent months, TTB allowed vitamins to be added so long as their was no direct reference to the vitamins on the label or in advertising. TTB is at the early stages of developing regulations related to alcohol beverages containing vitamins, minerals and caffeine.


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Posted in:

wine specialty

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Beer with Vitamins

Click for COLA

TTB is unlikely to allow “Beer with Vitamins” anytime soon. And yet every couple of months, we hear a report of another “beer with vitamins.” Most often, it’s based on flimsy evidence. But every now and then, something very close or on the mark will turn up.

Stampede Light (above) shows a beer sometimes purported to contain vitamins. The approved labels don’t mention vitamins. But the advertising strongly hints that this beer contains added vitamins. The website (as of March 2009) refers to doctors, vitamins, health, and shows a person doing one-handed pushups. It probably went much further, before 2007. Forbes reports that Larry Schwartz:

launched Stampede in November 2005 by marketing it as “beer with horsepower” and trumpeting its added vitamins in print ads and radio spots in Texas–and on his MySpace page. A short time later he received a letter from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax & Trade Bureau, part of the U.S. Treasury Department. The TTB says health-related claims made by alcoholic drink manufacturers must be verifiable and balanced with revelations about the health risks of excessive alcohol consumption.

Schwartz … who has racked up $100,000 in legal fees while negotiating with the TTB, hopes below-the-radar marketing tricks will give Stampede a boost–and keep him out of trouble.

For example, it looks as if Mr. Schwartz has retained a certain actress to say what he’d better not say.

We did find another brand — with clear evidence of added vitamins, right on the approved front labels. But before setting off any more false alarms about beer with vitamins, we hasten to add that these approvals are not recent, and their current status is “surrendered.”

TTB is at the early stages of developing regulations related to alcohol beverages containing vitamins, minerals and caffeine.

March 19, 2013 Update:  TTB’s interim policy.


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Posted in:

alcohol beverages generally

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Skilnik Speaks: Of Beer and Nutrition


Bob Skilnik has recently published a book entitled Does My Butt Look Big in this Beer? It shows the nutritional values for 2,000 beers, along the lines TTB may soon require on every alcohol beverage label. The book serves a valuable function by providing this information in the here and now, rather than waiting a few years for the rules to kick in. It provides a helpful glimpse of where things are headed. Skilnik has been following the beer business for many decades and has written several books on beer and nutrition. Skilnik says:

Whether brewers, vintners or distillers like it or not, the Alcohol Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), responsible for labeling requirements of alcoholic beverages, is close to making it mandatory for alcoholic beverages to list their nutritional values. … In the following pages, you’ll find nutritional information now that will help you to enjoy the moderate consumption of worldwide beer.

Skilnik has collected a lot of information and presented it clearly. The book provides an easy way to see, for example, that among about 100 listed Anheuser-Busch products, there is not a whole lot of variation in alcohol content or calories. The Bud Light Lime is way down around 3.1% alcohol by volume and 116 calories (per 12 ounces). And the Hurricane High Gravity Lager is at the other extreme, around 8.1% alcohol by volume and 188 calories. Neither one has meaningful fat or protein. The vast majority, though, are in the middle, and this is not as much fluctuation as we think most people would assume. I can’t imagine it’s a leading factor in how big is the look of the butt at issue. For a big fluctuation, Boston Beer’s Utopia jumps out, at a whopping 27% alcohol by volume and 732 calories. I like what’s between the covers and my least favorite part is the cover itself.

My favorite part of the book is its implicit suggestion that the private sector could conceivably find a better way to provide this information, compared to the old-fashioned way. By old-fashioned way, I mean TTB requiring thousands of alcohol beverage companies to get this done by a date certain, in a manner certain, at huge cost to government and the companies. Instead, Skilnik’s book hints at another way. Imagine a scenario where these brewers have the choice to display the nutrition facts panel on their label — or to simply post a link (in the form of an URL or a machine-readable code). This could lead to a scrupulously accurate, monitored, web-based database, setting forth all the same information in the prescribed format. The USDA-approved organic certifiers provide one such example, and ICANN provides another precedent for such a public-private partnership. ICANN is:

the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. Headquartered in Marina Del Rey, California, United States, ICANN is a non-profit corporation that was created on September 18, 1998 in order to oversee a number of Internet-related tasks previously performed directly on behalf of the U.S. government. … ICANN’s tasks include responsibility for Internet Protocol (IP) address space allocation. … More generically, ICANN is responsible for managing the assignment of domain names and IP addresses. … On September 29, 2006, ICANN signed a new agreement with the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) that is a step forward toward the full management of the Internet’s system of centrally coordinated identifiers through the multi-stakeholder model of consultation that ICANN represents.

This would probably be much easier for the companies, and TTB, and lead to much more consistency. Until then, Skilnik provides a valuable service.



Posted in:

alcohol beverages generally, malt beverage

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