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Gov. Jerry Brown OKs bill defining craft beers

July 13, 2012 |  3:15 pm

CraftBeersBeer is bipartisan.

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a bill supported by Democrats and Republicans that ensures certain microbrews will be licensed, regulated and labeled as "beer" throughout California.

The measure applies to beers aged in wooden barrels that previously held wine or other spirits, a Belgian-style brewing process that the state's craft beer industry has embraced with gusto.

The bill's sponsor, the California Craft Brewers Assn., feared that because the beers receive some of their flavor from the alcohol in the wood they could be considered distilled spirits -- and thus taxed at a higher rate.

In a letter urging Brown to sign the measure, Assemblyman Wesley Chesbro (D-Eureka) argued that a clarification of existing rules was necessary. Under state law, he said, beer with "any amount of alcohol derived from distilled spirits ... even trace amounts" could be classified as a distilled spirit.

Chesbro, whose district includes the popular Lost Coast Brewery, also noted that the bill passed both chambers of the Legislature unanimously.

-- Michael J. Mishak in Sacramento



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Photo: Craft beers. Credit: Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times