Governor Signs AB 1812 Protecting Barrel-aged Beer

Assembly Bill 1812, a bill sponsored by the CCBA has been signed by Governor Jerry Brown, this is great news for California craft brewers.

AB 1812 ensures that beer aged in used re-purposed empty wooden barrels will continue to be taxed, licensed, regulated and labeled as “beer” throughout California. The bill will become law January 1st of next year.

The CCBA sponsored the bill due to the concern that current law creates legal ambiguity on how wooden barrel-aged beers are to be defined and categorized for purposes of taxation and regulation. Because barrel-aged beers receive some of their flavor from the alcohol in the wood, they could be considered distilled spirits  and taxed at a much higher rate. They might also be regulated as distilled spirits, and because of state licensing mandates, a beer manufacturer would therefore not be allowed to make barrel-aged beers.

 “This is a very important bill to the growing craft beer industry in the state,” said Tom McCormick, Executive Director of the CCBA. “California craft brewers have become literally world renown for their unique interpretation and adaptation of ageing beers in wood barrels. AB 1812 will ensure that this exciting brewing process will continue to thrive.”

Empty wooden barrels are expensive and are typically recycled by craft brewers from previous use by the wine or distilled spirits industries. The re-purposing of these empty wooden barrels imbues unique character and complex flavor profiles to the beer.