What is “New York Labelled Beer” and Who Can Sell It?

A popular question among breweries and breweries-in-planning in New York is what is “New York State Labelled Beer” and who can sell it?

What is New York State Labelled Beer?

The term “New York State Labelled Beer” is a product of the farm brewery legislation pioneered by Empire Brewing Co. founder and owner David Katleski and the New York State Brewers Association.  Section 3(20-d) of the Alcoholic Beverage Control law (“ABC”) defines “New York State Labelled Beer,” but what that definition is depends on the date the beer is made.  Specifically, New York State Labelled Beer is defined as follows:

  • Present to 12/31/2018: Beer made with no less than 20% by weight of its hops grown in New York State and no less than 20% by weight of all of its other ingredients, excluding water, grown in New York State.
  • 1/1/2019 to 12/31/2023: Beer made with no less than 60% by weight of its hops grown in New York  State  and  no  less  than  60%,  by weight, of all of its other ingredients, excluding water, grown in New York State
  • 1/1/2024 and Thereafter: Beer made with  no less than 90% by weight of its hops grown in New York State and no less than 90% by weight of all of its other ingredients, excluding water, grown in New York State.

In other words, currently, at least 20% of the hops used to make a NYS State Labelled Beer must be grown in New York.  Then take the total weight of the remaining ingredients, e.g. base malt, specialty malts, yeast, fruit, spices, yeast, etc., and make sure that at least 20% of that total weight is comprised of products grown in New York.  And no, you can’t claim a beer is New York State Labelled Beer because 100% of your water comes from New York.

Thus, NYS State Labelled Beer is unequivocally does not just mean beer made in New York, there are specific rules about the ingredients that must be used to make the beer.

Who Can Sell New York State Labelled Beer By the Glass?

Per Section 51-A(2)(e) of the ABC, licensed farm breweries can “sell at the licensed premises beer . . . manufactured  by  the licensee  or  any  other  licensed  farm  brewery . . . at retail for consumption on or off the licensed premises.”  Farm breweries can thus sell for on-premises consumption the New York State Labelled Beer they manufacture as well as the New York State Labelled Beer made by other farm breweries.

Per Section 51(3-a) of the ABC, licensed microbreweries “may at the licensed premises . . . sell at retail for consumption on or off the licensed premises, any beer manufactured by the licensee or any New York State labeled beer.”  Microbreweries are thus also permitted to sell for on-premises consumption not only the beer they manufacture, but also New York State Labelled Beer made by other breweries.

In summary, both farm breweries and microbreweries can sell for on-premises consumption New York State Labelled Beer made by other breweries, but be careful to recognize that New York State Labelled Beer doesn’t just mean beer made in New York.

This blog is intended to provide general information on a wide range of issues, including legal issues, affecting the brewing industry. It is not intended to provide specific legal advice and no legal advice is given. You understand that merely using this blog does not create an attorney client relationship between you and Harris Beach PLLC or Brendan Palfreyman. The blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Brendan Palfreyman