Texas, Free Speech and Alcohol
Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission rules had demanded any malt beverage with less than 4% alcohol by weight be called beer, and anything containing more than 4% alcohol must be called an ale or malt liquor.
However, plaintiffs Authentic Beverages, Jester King Craft Brewery and Zax Restaurant & Bar argued in an Austin courtroom the word "beer" encompasses all malt beverages regardless of alcohol level, while ale means a style of beer that is made with a certain kind of yeast through warm fermentation, regardless of its final alcohol content, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported.
Texas cannot force an industry to mislabel a product just to satisfy the state's conception of that product, the court ruled, citing the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.
The ruling affects "all consumers who want to be accurately informed on what they're purchasing," Rachel Fisher with James O. Houchins, the Austin law firm that represented the plaintiffs, said.
Jester King owner Ron Extract cited his Le Petit Prince product as an example.
"It's a low-alcohol beer that's top-fermenting, so it's technically an ale," he said. "It's 2.8% by volume, or 2.2% by weight. Under the previous law, we couldn't use the term ale for that product. Now, we have the option of using the word ale, which we probably will."
From the December 26, 2011, Prepared Foods' Daily News.