In a shocking but true accouncement as reported in the New York Times, the US government has passed a regulation that will require what is taxed as beer to be at least 51% beer twelve months from now:
Popular flavored malt beverages must have the majority of their alcohol come from the process of brewing if they want to be taxed and treated as beer products rather than higher-taxed liquor products. That's the upshot of final regulations announced Tuesday by the Treasury Department's Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. Companies will have until early January 2006 to comply. The new regulations require that at least 51 percent of alcohol in flavored malt drinks be derived from the brewing process. No more than 49 percent of the alcohol may come from other flavorings added to the product, the bureau said in a release.While this relates to beverages which are a long way off of real ale, you still would think that this would have been an obvious requirement. That would not, however, have taken into account the fact that brewing is one of the biggest business rackets going and just because it looks like beer or claims that it is beer on an income tax return doesn't mean it is a beer. One day beer will have to have its ingredients listed so that we can all see how much sea weed, which is added commonly to add body to corn sugar based brews, is in which beer. Here is the TTB announcement.