A Conversation for Beer - What Makes it Lager or Ale?
Unless you're in Texas
Baron Grim Started conversation Jan 8, 2007
A few years ago the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commision came up with its own determination of what is a lager and what is an ale. It doesn't matter whether it's top or bottom fermented. It doesn't matter what colour it is. The only thing that matters legally in Texas is what alcohol content it has. Anything under a certain Alcohol By Volume (ABV) is considered a lager. (I believe the cut off is 4% ABV but it might be 5%). What this means is that anything with "beer" or "lager" on the label has to be below that percentage ABV. Anything with Ale, Stout, Bitter, Malt Liquor et al. must be above that percentage. This is why you can't buy McEwan's Export or Younger's Special Tartan (among others) in Texas anymore. They weren't strong enough by TABC law to be labeled as ales.
Belhaven was also threatened by this but apparently they are brewing it stronger to keep their labeling.
Interestingly Harp's Lager is now labeled as Harp's Draught Malt Liquor as it fell above the cut off.
I had a theory that this statute was enacted as a deterent to competition for a few Texas breweries like St. Arnold and Celis (now out of business). But nothing about the TABC has to make sense.
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