Last Call: Brewers Miss TTB Label Boss; A Crowler Debate in Texas


Approval Process Slows after TTB Beer Label Specialist Departs

Kent “Battle” Martin spent 11 years with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, holding single authority over the American beer label approval process, before retiring in June. As a career bureaucrat with substantial power, he’d been called many things throughout his tenure, most humorously, “a pedantic pain in the ass” by the Daily Beast in a 2014 profile. Nonetheless, the man who for years could singlehandedly okay or kill a beer label seems to be missed by the brewers he served.

According to a report from, some brewers say the process has changed since the so-called “beer dictator” set sail into retirement.

“I’m in week eight of an approval, and that’s twice as long as it usually takes,” Jason Spaulding, co-founder of Brewery Vivant, told the website.

This is where we note the TTB hired two people to take over for Battle, a one-man operation. Russell Springsteen, owner of Right Brain Brewery, said with Martin’s departure, his company must relearn how to navigate the procedure. “We would specifically try to design a label with what we thought he would want to make (the process) streamlined,” he told the website.

As breweries are now opening at a clip of 1.5 per day, the job Martin left behind figures only to get more difficult. God bless ya, Battle, you pedantic pain in the ass.

Texas Coffee Bar Stripped of Crowler Sales

A Texas coffee bar that had, since December, been serving beer to go in 32 oz. crowlers — giant, one time use aluminum cans that are similar to its glass “growler” counterpart — has been told by the state that the practice is illegal, reports Austin 360. Specifically, the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission informed Cuvee Coffee that it would need a brewpub license to sell crowlers, as only manufacturers are permitted to can beer. Cuvee could, however, sell traditional glass growlers, making the dispute one of semantics, as the website notes.

“Canning is looked at as a manufacturing process, and a growler is looked at a little more leniently under the law,” TABC spokesperson Chris Porter told the website.

Cuvee founder Mike McKim said he was dumbfounded when it came to understanding the real difference between the two packages.

“[The TABC inspector] couldn’t give me a good answer about the difference between serving a ‘growler’ versus a ‘crowler,’” McKim told the website. “It seemed to come down to that the crowlers constitute re-packaging beer.”

The bar has 30 days to comply, but McKim said he doesn’t intend to back down and is willing to lawyer up to fight what he believes is an unjust law.

Idaho Brewer Burned in Brewing Accident

The head brewer at Boise, Idaho’s Edge Brewing was injured last week after a kettle boiled over, leaving her with second-degree burns on 30 percent of her body, reports the Idaho Statesman. Per the report, Kerry Thomas’ burns stretched from her right shoulder down to her foot, leaving her torso singed as well. As of Monday, Thomas was being treated at the University of Utah Burn Center and was listed in good condition and in good spirits, the article notes.

“She threw the hops in there and it started bubbling and boiling and had a bad reaction,” Cory Thomas, her husband, told the Statesman. “She turned her back for a moment because she wanted to make sure her assistant was OK and as soon as she turned her back, it just exploded and ‘volcanoed’ all over her.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Thomas’ medical care and has already raised more than $17,000 of its $100,000 goal.

2 Towns Cider Invests in Agriculture

Per a report from Oregon Live, 2 Towns Cider is investing heavily in agriculture to help bring cider to the masses. The company, according to the website, is signing 10-year contracts with a number of local and regional farmers, tapping five to grow 40 orchard acres solely for 2 Towns, within a 40-mile radius of its Corvallis cidery. The company is asking some of its farmers to invest $20,000 in a new orchard or harvest a new variety of apple, according to the website.

“Not only are we willing to pay a little more, but we’re working to put time and money into knowing what we’re paying for,” co-founder Lee Larsen told the site.