TTB Formula Approval – Recent changes

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Blog 11, 38, and 39

Ingredients and Processes Used in the Production of Beer Not Subject to Formula Requirements – TTB Ruling Number 2014-4 Interpreted

This is the first of a series of blogs interpreting the TTB’s efforts to streamline the formula process for breweries.  This blog will focus on TTB’s adjustments to the formula requirement relating to the use of food ingredients in malt beverage production.

As all brewers know, federal regulations require submission to TTB for approval of a formula if the brewer intends to produce any fermented product that will be treated by any processing, filtration, or other methods of manufacture that is not generally recognized as a traditional process in the production of a fermented beverage designated as beer, ale, porter, stout, lager, or malt liquor.

Regulations require a formula if certain natural and artificial flavors or colorings are added to a fermented product, unless TTB finds that the additive is “generally recognized as a traditional ingredient” used in the production of a fermented beverage designated as a beer, ale, porter, stout, lager or malt liquor.  Over the past few years, there has been a surge of formula requests as craft brewers have expanded beer styles.  Efforts were made by the industry, including a petition filed with TTB by the Brewer’s Association, to exempt many of these additives.

TTB ultimately reviewed data and determined that the Brewer’s Association’s characterization of the issues was accurate – these ingredients are being used more and more, there are few compliance issues and no obvious consumer concerns.  Basically, the government decided to make the system more efficient and less burdensome for industry producers.

The TTB Ruling provides an attachment of ingredients that they have exempted from the formula requirements of the regulations.  The exempt ingredients are categorized as Fruits, Spices and Other Exempted Ingredients.  Fruits include 13 different whole fruits, fruit juices, fruit purees or fruit concentrates.  Among these are apples, pumpkin, peaches and raspberries.  13 different spices are referenced including cinnamon, ginger, allspice and vanilla.  TTB expressly stated that vanilla will only include whole bean as vanilla powder could include ingredients TTB doesn’t have the power to exempt. Further, TTB would not exempt vanilla extract because it contains alcohol and TTB does not have the authority to exempt any item, other than hop extract, that contains alcohol.

The “Other Exempted Ingredient” category is further divided.  Honey, chili peppers, coffee (beans or grounds), and lactose are simply exempt.  Brown sugar, maple sugar/syrup, candy sugar, and molasses may be used in the fermentation of a malt beverage and the malt beverage does not have to include the ingredient in the designation of style – so, the brewer may simply label as “beer,” or “ale.”  Finally, the ruling indicates that “brewers may make non-misleading references to the use of chocolate malt by designating a product as, for example ‘chocolate stout,’ even though it contains no added chocolate.

Stay tuned for additional blogs explaining other aspects of this new ruling from TTB.  We are excited that the government has seized the opportunity to create some efficiency in the formula system.  Feel free to contact our office if you have any formula or label approval questions.

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