According to the Obama administration, brewers and consumers are incapable of making healthy life choices when they are left alone. Impending Obamacare regulations will require all craft beer brewers to supply detailed calorie information for every beer they brew starting in December of 2016. Fear not, consumers, magnanimous Uncle Sam wants to order your beer for you.
The Obamacare law requires all brewers to provide information on the calories, calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, total carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugars and protein in their products. The legislation also encourages restaurants and bars to group together beer on menus based on their calorie levels.
The burden of reporting these statistics hits small breweries disproportionately hard, as larger breweries can diffuse the added costs over a larger sales base. Adding insult to injury, small craft breweries do not focus on producing light beer and, as a result, will be grouped together in a special section of the menu.
The Obamacare regulations are hitting the craft beer industry at the wrong time. The beer industry has decentralized in recent years and is trending towards small, local craft breweries: 90 percent of all breweries fall below the “small brewery” benchmark of 7,143 barrels per year. From 2013 to 2014, the Brewers Association reports a 13.4 percent increase in regional craft breweries, a 27.8 percent increase in microbreweries, and a 10.3 percent increase in brewpubs. Altogether, the beer industry is now a $252.6 billion industry and pays out $79 billion in wages to 1.75 million Americans. At just over $45,000, the average beer industry employee earns more than double the salary of the typical food service employee. “The resurgence of American brewing is far from over,”says Brewers Association Chief Economist, Bart Watson.
The tremendous growth in the craft beer industry comes despite the fact that the most expensive ingredient is government intervention. Federal, state and local taxes combine for over 40 percent of the cost of beer. Not only is Uncle Sam joining you at the bar, but you get to pick up his tab too.
North Carolina, South Carolina, and Wyoming state legislatures have started to deregulate the thriving the craft beer industry. There are also a number of bills gathering signatures in the House that would significantly lower the federal tax burden on small craft brewers, most notably the Cost Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act of 2015, which would cut the craft beer tax in half.
Politicians realize the best thing they can do for the beer industry is to leave it alone. The only party interested in adding regulation to the craft beer industry is the Obamacare bureaucracy.