Craft Brewers Precision and a Basic Tool – the Beer Meter

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Blog 21

According to the Brewers Association, Craft Brewers have succeeded in establishing high levels of quality, consistency and innovation, expanding the minds of the beer consumer and creating the most diverse brewing culture in the world. The number of craft brewers have expanded dramatically in just the last few years and according to Brewers Association there are over 2,300 craft brewers in the U.S. in 2012 with 1,500 breweries in development in the U.S. as of June 2013!

The movement is described as revolutionary.  That’s an accurate portrayal.  But when something is so “hot,” attention may come in ways that are not always welcome.  Now is a time for those in the business or getting into the business to make sure they plan to not only produce a quality product, but plan for the high expectations that will be placed upon them by the federal government.

The alcohol industry remains very close to its post prohibition roots in many ways.  What hasn’t changed for decades is the government’s desire to tax the production of alcohol.  Taxation of course is based on volume produced and so the accuracy of calculating volume has always been of high interest to the government.

As a matter of fact, up until 1970, internal revenue officers would test brewer’s beer meters for accuracy.  One can imagine the repercussions of failing to “protect the revenue,” aka failure to properly measure the brewery’s beer production and thus failure to pay proper taxes.  In 1970, breweries began to ask for permission to have meter manufacturers run meter tests to substantiate accuracy of meter results.  The federal government found the results to be satisfactory and at that point basically re-wrote the rules associated with meter testing.

The evolution of beer meter testing ultimately resulted in the law today.  The U.S. code requires all breweries to install “meters, tanks, pipes, or any other apparatus for the purpose of protecting the revenue.”  Further, the expense of doing so rests soundly with the brewery.  Any brewery that refuses to install such items shall “not be permitted to conduct business on such premises.”  The statute doesn’t even talk about a fine – rather, it speaks in terms of prohibiting the brewer to brew!

Needless to say, it is important to take these provisions seriously!  The regulations relating to meters indicate that the “brewer shall accurately and reliably measure the quantity of beer transferred from the brewery cellars for bottling and for racking.  The brewer may use a measuring device, such as a meter or gauge glass, or any other suitable method.”

The brewer is periodically required to test the devices used to measure the quantity of beer it is transferring, and adjust or repair the device if necessary.  The allowable variation for beer meters as established by testing may not exceed +/- 0.5%.  If a meter test discloses an error in excess of the allowable variation, “the brewer shall immediately adjust or repair the meter,” according to the regulations.  And the adjustment must reduce the error to as near zero as practicable.

Further, the brewer must keep records of the tests it makes periodically.  The records must include:

1) Date of test;
2) Identity of meter or measuring device;
3) Result of test; and
4) Corrective action taken, if necessary.

As one might assume, these records should be readily available in the event TTB schedules an on-site audit of the brewery.

Opening your own Craft Brewery and hadn’t thought about the above yet?  Feel free to give us a call and we’ll help you through this and many other operational requirements expected by the government.  Pre-planning is highly advantageous in this industry.

We're Here to Help

Dear friends in the alcoholic beverage industry,

As we as an industry, nation and planet collectively try to navigate this unprecedented period the coronavirus has brought us, We’d like you to know that we at Craft Beverage Consultants (the other CBC!) are here to answer any question you may have (or not know you have) about not just surviving this time but positioning yourself to thrive as soon as social distancing measures allow your business to function at full capacity again.

If you schedule a free 60-minute phone or video conferencing consultation with me or any of my 11 highly specialized colleagues, we’ll help you figure out any of your immediate and/or longterm business needs, or “everything but the staffing,” as we like to say. We’re not high-pressure sales kind of people, especially these days, so you don’t have to worry about fending off annoying pitches. Make an appointment on our website or Facebook page, or just call us the old-fashioned way at 314-768-0220.

Our experts have a combined 150 years in the alcoholic beverage industry, with deep knowledge in everything from sales and distribution, production, and regulatory compliance to marketing, package design, event planning, IT, (social) media, hospitality, and even values-based executive coaching. 

For example, we can coach you through this season when chain accounts have canceled their spring, in some cases, fall resets and distributors have drastically cut orders. Our director of business strategy and compliance can save you money – now – on excise taxes, caution you to avoid naming your beers in ways that risk alienating your buyers (Wuhan Wheat? Coronavirus Cream Ale? Groan. No.), and secure TTB approval for the tastefully named beers you do make. Our creative director and web team can get your e-commerce site up and running and launch a social media campaign that keeps you top of mind for current and future customers. Our director of storytelling can put you in front of the press so you can tell your story to your community. 

Once you’re ready, we can look forward together. Now is the time to talk about post-virus. We all suspect the legal landscape to look different. But how? And how do you prepare yourself in a way that positions you to charge out of the gate ready to maximize the potential and profit of whatever the “new normal” turns out to be? Please get in touch so we can talk about it. 

CBC’s roster includes local and regional clients like Epic Brewing, Logboat Brewing, Piney River Brewing, SudWerk Brewing, Waves Cider and Common Cider Company, just to name a few.  The agency was founded in 2004 by Jacob and Beth Halls, formerly known as Convergence Consulting; Rick Laxague, joined as a partner in charge of sales, marketing and distribution consulting in 2019. 

Rick hase close to 20 years of experience, a bulk of which was with Crescent Crown Distributing in Arizona. His last role there was Area Sales Manager for the dedicated craft beer division, coaching and leading a sales team to be nationally recognized. In early 2014 Rick helped take a regional brewery national as their Director of National Accounts and increase that segment of their business from 30,000 cases to almost 300,000 cases in two years, an increase that equates to $4.8 million in IRI dollar sales. 

Co-founder Jacob Halls brings 17 years of experience in regulatory compliance, business strategy, marketing and craft brand management to the company. In his former position as craft brand manager for the N.H. Scheppers Distributing Company in Columbia, Missouri, Jacob helped lead his team to winning the 2016 Distributor of the Year award from New Belgium and to a nomination for the Brewers Association’s Distributor of the Year award. Jacob is also the founder and director of the South East Craft Beer Fest and several other industry specific charitable event marketing festivities. Beth Halls is Director of Business Operations and Coordinator of Charity Operations for the festivals and events run by CBC, such as the South East Craft Beer Fest, MO Bacon & Bourbon, and many more. 

Again, please reach out to us for anything.  CBC can be reached at (314) 768-0220 or at

We look forward to meeting/talking soon.


Rick Laxague, Jacob Halls, and Beth Halls