Sacramento – Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed legislation by Assemblymember Tom Daly (D – Anaheim) updating the definition of beer in California. As a result, “beer” will now be defined in state law to include things such as honey, fruit juice, herbs, spices and other food materials as adjuncts in fermentation.
“California is considered by many to be the nation’s capital for craft beer,” Assemblymember Daly said. “But the statutory definition of beer in California excluded fruit, honey or similar ingredients from contributing to the fermentable sugars in beer. By contrast, federal regulations allow the use of these ingredients as adjuncts to a base of fermentable sugars provided by barley and malt. This measure modifies the definition of beer in a way that allows California breweries to expand their market, satisfying the consumer’s desire for more varied and unique styles of beer.”
Adjuncts are the un-malted grains, sugars, solids, or syrups that are used in the brewing process to supplement the main mash. One of the purposes of using adjuncts is to add unique flavors or aromas to beer. Some of the most popular adjuncts include corn and rice. Other widely used adjuncts include oats, wheat, honey, and fruit.
In 2006, the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau adopted a rule stating that “beer must be brewed from malt or from substitutes for malt. Only rice, grain of any kind, bran, glucose, sugar, and molasses are substitutes for malt. In addition, the following materials may be used as adjuncts in fermenting beer: honey, fruit, fruit juice, fruit concentrate, herbs, spices, and other food materials.”
Assemblymember Daly’s legislation aligns California’s definition of beer with the federal definition. The changes implemented by AB 205 officially take effect on January 1, 2020.
“The common and more traditional ingredients for beer include barley, malt and hops,” noted Tom McCormick, executive director of the California Craft Brewers Association. “However, for thousands of years, a wide variety of ingredients have been used as adjuncts in the brewing process to create unique and novel styles of beer reflecting both the season and region of production. AB 205 acknowledges this rich history by broadening the definition of beer to include the various ingredients used over the span of human history.”
Assemblymember Tom Daly represents California’s 69th Assembly District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange and Santa Ana.