All beer labels have to be approved by one guy, and he's a nutcase



Do I understand this correctly that there is “prior restraint” for beer labels? Interesting.

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If only the concept of “prior restraint” could be applied to patent “infringement” and other PTO litigation.

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Among brewers, he’s a tyrant. A legend.

A pedantic pain in the ass.

So, which one of us commentators is this guy IRL?


As a slightly related aside–similar to this fellow, who insists on being called Battle, I worked with a guy in the late 90s who had a similar quirk. He insisted on being called Cougar. I suspect that name has fallen by the wayside.

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America is weird.

I’m not really keen on sticking up for the likes of Budweiser or Schlitz, but … you have to ask permission for what goes on your beer labels?

America is weird.


As soon as we get rid of this there will be a Jihadi beer and then the terrorist will have won. There is a reason that he wants to be called Battle – he is single-handedly battling against the terrorists.


If you’re in New Zealand, then you do too.

You’re covered by the same consumer laws that cover Australia, and they have a pretty well organized set of guidelines. Here’s a link to a pdf.

Also, here’s an excerpt from that pdf showing you that, yes, your country does say you can’t make specious claims on beer bottles (either in text or graphics).

  1. Schedule 2 – The Australian Consumer Law provides that businesses must not engage in misleading or deceptive conduct, or conduct likely to mislead or deceive. For example, businesses must not make representations likely to mislead or deceive consumers about the most prominent ingredients or characteristics of an alcoholic product.

Yeah, now he’s just John Mellencamp.


It may seem like a joke, but prior to labeling standards people could make any claim they wanted on a label. Since companies want to make money, they make claims.

Currently there’s a company in CA making an ale with goji berries and cherries. The cherries are there for flavor - goji berries don’t have much taste at all. They’re only there to be able to be noted as being in the beer. Battle prevents this company from making any additional health claim on the label about the beer because of the goji berries. They can say they’re in there, but not make a health claim. They can’t sell snake oil.


The grounds for rejection noted in the article seem perfectly reasonable to me. I’m certain there have been equally strange things cropping up regularly in patent and trademark law and suchlike.

And best of all, since it’s all done by one guy, one can be assured of some measure of consistency.


Honestly, I think we could use someone like him in health supplement labeling. :smile:

It’s really not all that surprising that there’s just the one guy. That happens more often than people realize. I’ve met the one guy who is in charge of identifying possible pest insects as they come into ports in the U.S. on the East coast. He has a small flock of grad students who work under him, but he is the “one guy” who makes the final call.


This article is pretty damn unfair. I’ve worked with Battle on our beer labels for the last six years; and while we’ve had our differences I’ve never found him to be anything but fair. He doesn’t have a choice in how our label laws are written.

If you want a good head-scratcher, check out the relevant text up at the TTB website. There’s a lot that doesn’t make much sense, and a lot left to interpretation. If you can show Battle a good argument in favor of your label, he’s always been willing to listen in my experience.

Battle is also among the rarest of things: a charming and personable government bureaucrat. I’ve met him in person a few times and seen him speak at Brewers’ conferences. The guy looks like a classic G-man, but works a room like a seasoned stand-up comedian.

He’s also incredibly hard-working. I’ve had responses back from him at 6am on a Saturday morning. Given the number of breweries submitting labels, the guy deserves some respect.


Thanks for that! He probably gets little credit for working his tail off.

I had to submit self-designed labels at my health department for cookies I was selling. I’m a designer, and knew to check out the laws carefully, so I didn’t run into any trouble. While I was there, the chick assisting me wasn’t just multitasking - she was like an octopus. Talking to me, answering coworker questions, dealing with phone calls, signing things handed to her, and so on - she was a monster worker!

[quote=“catgrin, post:12, topic:39114”]Honestly, I think we could use someone like him in health supplement labeling.[/quote]The thought occurred to me, but then I remembered John Oliver’s thoughtful piece on how the opportunity to regulate those got shot to heck.

I should also add that considering the recent news about the patent examiners slacking off, we could probably use a lot more folks like Battle.


A girl can dream.

I have to agree and I live here.

This is the first time I’ve heard of this nonsense. And when I consider how many beers I buy based on a clever or attractive label design it really brings home the influence this guy potentially has.

Also I’ll thank you for not stopping with Budweiser and Schlitz when listing American beers. Perhaps you’re not aware of the seemingly endless variety of quality craft beers available over here.

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Not making untrue claims on labels is good.
But blocking a label because of a heart on a playing card could be interpreted as advertising health effect goes a bit too far.


Got a guy here who just started around here and goes by Cougar. Last name has a Van in it.

No, I know there is a vibrant and tasty craft movement. I singled out B & S because they weren’t small and crafty. I’m fed up to the eyeballs with large orgs fucking over everything they touch for fun and profit, so I’m quite happy for Battle to act as a roadblock for them.

I was thinking about the point Jorpho made (and particularly the bit he did on food labelling in Ep.1) when I posted my first comment. Sure; we have rules, but they’re along the lines of “no lying”, and they apply to everything. They are not “stuff [someguy] doesn’t like”, applied vigourously to some products and not at all to others.

America is weird.