Urgent Call for Industry Support in FMB Issue

The Brewers Association of America, Beer Institute, Association of Brewers and the National Beer Wholesalers Association have mounted a campaign seeking support from both brewers and consumers for a proposed change in the rule defining flavored malt beverages, also know at malternatives or FMBs.

The proposal published by the Tax and Trade Bureau calls for a standard under which less than 0.5% (one half of one percent) of the alcohol in a flavored malt beverage can be derived from distilled alcohol.

Under this proposed rule, products that contain .5% or more distilled alcohol by volume will be taxed and classified as distilled spirits produced at a distilled-spirits plant, taxed at the rate applicable to distilled-spirits products, labeled and advertised as a distilled-spirits specialty, and distributed by persons holding basic permits as wholesalers of distilled spirits.

The manufacture of certain FMB’s containing a high percentage of distilled alcohol has provoked a political battle between the beer and liquor industries over whether these products should be taxed and treated like beer.

In a letter at the BAA’s “90/10 Action Site” (www.brewersadvocate.org/FMB) association president Daniel Bradford tells brewers: “No other issue has such long-term consequences for the integrity of your industry as this proposed issue. When you review the Position Papers and Backgrounders you will quickly understand how today’s flavored malt beverages threaten your business.” The BAA Action Site has links to access the Position Papers and Backgrounders that fully detail the proposed rule change and the position of the BAA and Beer Institute. The site also enables those from the industry to easily submit comments to the TTB.

Bradford stresses the importance of industry response by adding, “We really need your help in this battle. Each letter that you and your fellow brewery representatives send is one more voice that the TTB cannot ignore.” The overall number of responses is also important, and brewers are encouraged to pass the Action Site web address to company staff so that they may submit their opinion as well.

This joint task between the BAA, AOB, Beer Institute and NBWA demonstrates a unique and powerful alliance between the four trade organizations and reflects the significance of the FMB issue.

The deadline for filing comments to the TTB is October 21st. You can access the BAA’s 90/10 Action Site at http://www.brewersadvocate.org/FMB/