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Posts Tagged ‘media buzz’

Crafty, In a Good Way

I heard about this on the radio this morning, on the way in. Apparently it’s illegal to allow farms, or picking fruit for free, on New York City lands — so these guys put it on a barge. It struck me as pretty crafty. That is, crafty in a good way.

The rules say:

Public foraging and policy
According to the New York City Parks Department

No person shall deface, write upon, injure, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any trees under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

No person shall deface, write upon, sever, mutilate, kill or remove from the ground any plants, flowers, shrubs or other vegetation under the jurisdiction of the Department without permission of the Commissioner.

Swale says:

Because of the common laws of New York City’s waterways, Swale is able to act as a test case as an edible public food forest. Swale is built atop a barge that was once used for hauling sand to construction sites before it was re-purposed for growing food.

We are always on the lookout for what is crafty, in a good way. A CBS story on this is here . I wonder how well an alcohol beverage operation would fare with a similar sleight of hand.



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alcohol beverages generally

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What’s New at Moonshine U.?


The latest issue of Beverage Master just came in last week. It is the October-November issue and has a fine article about Moonshine University , if I may say so myself. A small excerpt is below, and you can find the entire article, and indeed the whole issue, here .

previous There is a lot of talk about Moonshine University, launched in early 2013. As this Louisville, Kentucky training center moves toward year five of educating new distillers, I contacted some of the principals, to see how it’s going. The questions are from me, and most of the answers are from Christin Head, Registrar at Moonshine University.

1. What is Moonshine University?

Moonshine University is an artisan distillery and education center located in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. Our distillery is adjacent to our state-of-the-art classroom and is set up for small runs and hands-on distilling training. We offer technical training and business management education for start-ups, industry professionals, and those looking for careers in the distilling industry. Our courses are designed and taught by distillery shirt operators, industry insiders, and world-renowned master distillers.

2. When did it start and how many classes so far?
Moonshine University opened in January 2013. We have just completed our thirteenth session of our flagship course, the 5-Day Distiller Course. All in all, we have held 67 classes at Moonshine University, with an additional 19 classes currently open for registration.

3. How many graduates?
Since 2013 we are happy to say we have had over 1200 students cross our threshold. We have over 600 attendees in our professional level classes, which includes the 5-Day Distiller Course.

If you are not already getting this bi-monthly craft spirits and brew magazine, it is easy to subscribe, here .



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Hillary on a Wine Label; Donald on Beer

With only two days to go until the second Presidential Debate, Trump and Clinton are clearly on everyone’s mind. Including the beer and wine companies shown above.

The Trump-inspired Blonde Ale label is from 5 Rabbit Cerveceria of Bedford Park, Illinois. It leaves no doubt they are not Trump fans. It says: “STOP THE HATE,” “CHINGA TU PELO” (look it up), “We decided to take a stand against racism,” “BULLIES AREN’T LEADERS.” Frank would love to have a can of this in time for the big event.

The Clinton-inspired Chardonnay label is from Scotto Family Cellars of Lodi, California. They have a couple types, and six approvals. We did not find any Trump-related labels at this company. Perhaps it would infringe on this .

Both seem to be real products and TTB apparently approves of both messages.


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Trump Vodka


Trump is riding high in the polls at this very moment. So high that Mitt Romney just attempted to slow Donald’s roll, by saying “what ever happened to Trump Vodka?” Indeed. All faithful readers of this blog had to know that the 2016 contest would eventually come down to matters of spirituous liquors. Mitt said :

But wait, you say, isn’t he a huge business success that knows what he’s talking about? No he isn’t. His bankruptcies have crushed small businesses and the men and women who worked for them. He inherited his business, he didn’t create it. And what ever happened to Trump Airlines? How about Trump University? And then there’s Trump Magazine and Trump Vodka and Trump Steaks, and Trump Mortgage? A business genius he is not.

Mitt has a point. I have rarely seen a less thoughtful label concept. The label makes a hollow claim that it’s “Super Premium” and “The World’s Finest” — with — wait for it —  nothing to back it up. There is almost nothing of note on the label or the application. I see about seven approvals, between May of 2006 and September of 2007, before the brand was put out of its misery .

This article reports that the bottles were emblazoned with the slogan “Success Distilled,” but I don’t see it on the approvals, as would surely be required (to comply with things like laws). It continues:

As for the vodka itself, it was created by Wanders Distillery in Holland, distilled five times from “select European wheat,” and then rested for six months in stainless steel vats before bottling at 80 proof. … The only trouble was, nobody bought it. By the end of 2007 it barely registered among the top-selling vodkas, badly trailing the likes of Smirnoff and no threat whatsoever to Grey Goose. Go figure that customers wouldn’t line up for a product that existed for the sole purpose of one-upping Trump’s friend. Who would have guessed that drinkers wouldn’t hand their money to a teetotaler who had no idea what his own product tasted like. In 2008, less than two years after launch, the Trump Vodka trademark was abandoned .

Among the other bad ideas, is there any point to resting the stuff in stainless steel?



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Kombucha Law Hits WSJ, Courts


Kombucha law is on the front page of tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal . Because kombucha law is so interlinked with alcohol beverage law, this is to underscore some alcohol beverage points only touched upon lightly in the article (subscription required).

  1. TTB has decided that most kombucha is beer for tax and permit purposes.
  2. This is because it is fermented tea. It is beer rather than a “malt beverage” because it lacks hops and malted barley.
  3. Most kombuchas are over 0.5% alcohol by volume during production, but less than that amount after bottling and at consumption. These can be called over-under kombuchas.
  4. It is ok for a kombucha to be 0.5% alcohol by volume or higher, after bottling, but only if the product jumps through most of the hoops required for Budweiser. This would include permits, taxes, a Government Warning, no sales to minors, sales via the three tier system. These can be called over-over kombuchas.
  5. Unlike Budweiser, the legal requirements would not include TTB label approval, because, like gluten free beer, the product lacks the hops and malted barely that would otherwise confer labeling jurisdiction upon TTB.
  6. Most kombuchas need FDA rather than TTB labeling.
  7. The article mentions a few recent lawsuits on these topics. So far there are five class action lawsuits. Two of them allege that GT Dave’s Enlightened Kombucha has hundreds of percent more than the legal limit of alcohol, for a product marketed as non-alcoholic. One of them alleges similar for the Health-Ade brand.
  8. The biggest case is Retta v. Millennium Products, Inc . I say biggest because it is a nationwide class action suit, and it is much farther along in litigation, compared to the other cases. It was first filed in March of 2015 but it was only amended to include the alcohol claims as of October 8, 2015. Before that, the claims were based on allegedly exaggerated anti-oxidant claims. This case is filed in federal court in Los Angeles. The first three pages of the 85-page complaint are here .
  9. Two other class action lawsuits allege that the same brands grossly understate the amount of sugar.

wsj2 Kombucha raises some great legal issues. Lately I have been saying that kombucha has a lot to do, to catch up with the law, and the law has a lot to do, to catch up with kombucha. For lots more information on this topic, see this post from just a few hours ago, covering a kombucha law webinar of last week. And for lots and lots more information on this topic, see AHPA ‘s six or so recent hours of webinars on kombucha law. It was a great pleasure to be part of this webinar series.

For those without a Wall Street Journal handy, here are some juicy excerpts:

Federal regulators have fired off warning letters in recent weeks to some kombucha producers after finding alcohol levels above one-half of 1%, the U.S. dividing line between alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks.

Two consumer complaints seeking class action status also were filed last month in California claiming deceptive practices in alcohol-content labeling by industry leader Millennium Products Inc., the maker of GT’s Enlightened and Synergy brands. One of the lawsuits allege alcohol levels of up to 3.8% compared with about 5% in beer.

Millennium and others dispute the government’s and the lawsuits’ alcohol-content allegations, and say the government’s method of testing is flawed. Millennium says its drinks’ alcohol content is below the U.S. limit for labeling alcoholic drinks.

And for those without Westlaw, here are some juicy excerpts from the Retta complaint :

Millennium Products, Inc. has passed off millions of bottles of its wildly successful kombucha beverages as non-alcoholic, when, in fact, the beverages contain two to seven times the legal limit for non-alcoholic beverages. Having been caught selling alcoholic kombucha beverages to unsuspecting customers in 2006 and 2010, Millennium decided to market and distribute an alcoholic version of its kombucha products (the “Classic” kombucha line) and a “non-alcoholic” version (the “Enlightened” line), knowing that the non-alcoholic line has a much greater market appeal and could be sold in far more retail locations. But the purported distinction between the “Classic” and “Enlightened” lines is a sham designed to confuse the public and government regulators, as both lines of products contain alcohol levels far surpassing the legal limit for non-alcoholic beverages.

Just like Ben Carson who finds himself newly in the spotlight for good (polls) and bad (almost stabbing a person with other than a scalpel), kombucha has so arrived. It faces the glare of TTB, the courts, the plaintiffs bar, AHPA, the press and Rep. Polis .


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