SACRAMENTO – Gov. Jerry Brown has signed AB 1812, a bill by Assemblymember Wesley Chesbro (D-North Coast) that ensures craft beer aged in wooden barrels that previously contained distilled spirits remains legally classified as a beer.
“California’s craft beer industry has gained worldwide acclaim for the use of traditional Belgian-style brewing techniques that incorporate the use of wooden barrels for aging,” Chesbro said. “These empty wooden barrels are expensive and are typically recycled by craft brewers from previous use by the wine or distilled spirits industries. These beers may take on a hint of flavor from minute amounts of distilled alcohol retained in the wood. This legislation ensures that these brews continue to be classified as beer and not as distilled spirits.”
Recent regulations adopted by the Board of Equalization regarding how it classifies what is a distilled spirit made the microbrew industry uneasy that the BOE could classify brews aged in these barrels as a dilution of another alcoholic beverage rather than a beer.
AB 1812 clarifies that beer aged in re-used wooden barrels will continue to be classified as beer for purposes of regulation for licensure of manufacturing, distribution, retail sales and taxation.
“California craft brewers have become literally world renown for their unique interpretation and adaptation of aging beers in wood barrels. AB 1812 will ensure that this exciting brewing process will continue to thrive,” said Chris Walker, advocate for the California Small Brewers Association, which sponsored the bill.
“The North Coast is becoming a national destination for those who enjoy craft beer tours,” Chesbro said. “The First Assembly District is home to a number of these renowned microbreweries. It is an industry that has a huge economic impact on the states as well as great growth potential. This bill enjoyed enthusiastic bipartisan support in the Legislature and I thank the governor for recognizing the importance of nurturing the craft beer industry.”
AB 1812 will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2013.