Most frequent questions and answers

Certificates of Label Approval

Every alcohol producer must acquire federal and state label approval for their beverage’s label. Most producers are very familiar with the basic requirements to obtain their Certificate of Label Approval (COLA); however, here are some frequent inquiries we receive:

TTB requires producers of some alcoholic products to submit documents detailing the formulas of their beverages if the manufacturing process is not generally recognized as a traditional process. The objective is for TTB to evaluate the product to make sure the label identifies the product in an adequate and non-misleading way. At times, TTB may require submission of a sample of the product for lab analysis.

Maybe. If your fermented cider contains more than 7% alcohol by volume, then you need a COLA. If your fermented cider contains less than 7% alcohol by volume, then the Food and Drug Administration has primary jurisdiction over labeling. Regardless, if the alcohol content is over 0.5% by volume, then TTB’s requirement for the Government Warning Statement is triggered.

It depends. Federal regulations state: “the name of a vineyard, orchard, farm or ranch shall not be used on a wine label, unless 95 percent of the wine in the container was produced from primary winemaking material grown on the named vineyard, orchard, farm or ranch.”

Importing and Exporting

Whether you are seeking to import a product into the United States or export goods to a foreign country, there are many regulatory hurdles to overcome before you enter into international commerce. Some common questions about importation and exportation are:

Anyone seeking to import beverage alcohol into the United States for commercial purposes must apply for an Importer’s Basic Permit from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). Along with this application, a contract, or a letter of intent, with a foreign supplier must be supplied to TTB before a permit will be issued. Before a specific product is imported, the importer will need to obtain a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA) from TTB for each unique product or label. Registering with the FDA is typically required as well, as the Bioterrorism Act of 2002 mandates anyone who manufactures, processes, packs, or holds food (including alcohol beverages) for consumption in the United States to do so. The importer must ensure that the foreign producer of any alcohol beverage being imported is registered under this act, and the FDA must receive advance notice of any importation. Importers are also required to meet any state or local requirements. The importer is responsible for checking with the applicable state alcohol control boards to determine what additional requirements are needed.

The importer is responsible for paying federal excise tax on all imported beverage alcohol. These taxes are paid when the product is removed from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) port of entry. CBP is responsible for the collection of these taxes, as well as any duties owed.

Every country has their own regulations regarding the importation of foreign products. Therefore, it is always necessary to examine the requirements of each country to which you seek to export your product. International standards have developed a set of commonly used documents for the exportation of alcohol beverage products, and TTB can provide these export certificates to industry members:

  • Certificate of Free Sale
  • Certificate of Origin and/or Age
  • Certificate of Health
  • Certificate of Sanitation
  • Certificate of Authenticity
  • Sanitary Statement/Certificate
  • Certificate of Manufacturing Process

Producers should contact TTB to determine if any consolidated certificates have been created between the U.S. and the foreign country as this could simplify the process.

Depending on the countries involved, there is a high likelihood that the contract will be governed by the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). Such contracts typically set out terms for ordering, delivery, price, payment conditions, warranties, and the appropriate documentation to accompany the goods. Remedies for nonpayment, non-delivery, or defective product delivery should be addressed. Additionally, it is important to address rules on restitution, damages, and mitigation of harm along with standard contract provisions.

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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