Sam Adams Maker Boston Beer Fined $975,000 by New York State

The New York State Liquor Authority fined Boston Beer Co. the maker of renowned craft beer Sam Adams close to $1 million for selling its products that did not contain brand label registration that was required.

American Craft Brewery LLC, which is a Boston Beer Co. subsidiary, agreed to a $975,000 fine after the Liquor Authority’s investigation found the company sold over 1.4 million cases of its beer, malt beverages and hard cider in New York that did not have proper registration. The value of the sales was $24 million, said the liquor authority.

Products that are sold without New York’s label registration included the Samuel Adams lineup of beers, Twisted Tea brand malt beverages and Angry Orchard hard ciders.

The state requires that companies register brand labels for their products in order to ensure they meet federal and state labeling laws, and allow products to be traceable in case there is a recall for safety or health reasons.

The labels help the state to ensure that there are not any deceptive benefit/health claims present on the label, said the liquor authority.

In a news release, the liquor authority said that the requirements for brand labeling protect the consumer from deceptive or false production information, as well as provides consumers with safeguards against bootleg alcohol or knockoffs from entering the New York marketplace.

The website for the state’s liquor authority said that the annual fee for brand label registration is $450 from July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019, yet drops in the following years.

The registration fee was dropped by the state in 2012 for brewers that produced less than 1,500 barrels annually, but the registration requirement was kept in force. One barrel is equal to 31 gallons.

The case involving Boston Beer started in February of 2016, said the state’s liquor authority, when it discovered American Craft Brewery only registered one of its products that was for sale in New York – Twisted Tea Summer Blueberry.

The Liquor Authority then notified executives at Boston Beer with a formal letter in 2016. The beer maker responded that it was going through the filing of paperwork to add their many brands, said the state’s LA in a news release.

However, in the early part of 2018, the Liquor Authority discovered that not all of the products from Boston Beer had been registered and launched an investigation.

A plea of “conditional not contest” was entered by American Craft Brewery and a $975,000 fine was offered which was accepted this week by the Liquor Authority.