Labelling Requirements for Alcoholic Beverages
Product Specific Information for Beer

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Common Name for Beer

Section B.02.132 of the FDR establishes mandatory common names or qualified common names as outlined below for various standardized beer products based upon alcohol content.

Common Names
Percentage of Alcohol by Volume Qualified Common Name or Common Name
1.1 to 2.5 Extra Light Beer, Extra Light Ale, Extra Light Stout, Extra Light Porter
2.6 to 4.0 Light Beer, Light Ale, Light Stout, Light Porter
4.1 to 5.5 Beer, Ale, Stout, Porter
5.6 to 8.5 Strong Beer, Strong Ale, Strong Stout, Strong Porter, Malt Liqueur
8.6 or more Extra Strong Beer, Extra Strong Ale, Extra Strong Stout, Extra Strong Porter, Strong Malt Liqueur

"Lager" is not an acceptable common name as prescribed by section B.02.132 of the FDR. The common name "beer" must be listed in addition to the description "lager".

Spiced Beer

Beer spiced with a spice or herb may be described using a common name such as "Beer with (common or class name of the ingredients)". The common name in this case could also be considered a list of ingredients.

Low Alcohol Beer

"0.4% Alcohol Beer" is an acceptable common name for a beer that meets the Food and Drug Regulations' standard for beer but contains 0.4% alcohol. Section B.02.132 of the Regulations establishes common names for beer and ale that contain 1.1 percent alcohol or more, (extra light beer to extra strong beer). Since there are no requirements for the common name of beers that contain less than 1.1 percent alcohol, this common name considered to reflect the nature of the product.

Carbohydrate Matter

Sections B.02.130 and B.02.131 of the FDR set the standards for beer and ale, and indicate that several ingredients may be added "during the course of manufacture". These ingredients include carbohydrate matter, preservatives and fining agents.

The intended function of "carbohydrate matter" when added to beer or ale is not specified in regulation. Although there is no regulatory definition for "carbohydrate matter", this term is interpreted to mean an ingredient whose single largest component is carbohydrate and which is used to assist in fermentation, or to enhance the flavour, body, or colour of the product. As such, carbohydrate matter includes sources of carbohydrate (e.g. maltose, lactose, maple syrup, honey, etc.) used to supplement available fermentable sugars. It also includes other simple or complex carbohydrates such as fruit and fruit juice, corn, rice, wheat, barley, and some spices or herbs.

For example, a spice whose single largest component is carbohydrate would be considered to be "carbohydrate matter". Therefore, the addition of such an ingredient to standardized beer and ale would be in compliance with section B.02.130 and B.02.131 of the FDR. Manufacturers must be able to demonstrate that a spice or other ingredient is composed primarily of carbohydrate matter, i.e. that carbohydrate is the largest single component of the ingredient.

"During the course of manufacture" in the beer and ale standards is interpreted to include both during fermentation and post-fermentation processing up to and including the packaging of the final product. Therefore, a beer or ale product with carbohydrate matter added at any time during the course of manufacture would be in compliance with B.02.130 or B.02.131 of the FDR and would be considered a standardized product.

See List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer for information on exemptions from these requirements for standardized beer and ale.

Flavoured Beer

The standards for beer and ale [B.02.130, B.02.131, FDR] provide for the addition of "carbohydrate matter". However, these do not provide for the addition of flavouring preparations. If an extract or flavouring preparation that is not composed primarily of carbohydrate matter (e.g. essential oils, distillates, or chemically based synthetic flavours) is added to beer, it becomes an unstandardized alcoholic beverage that requires an appropriate common name (e.g. beer with added cherry flavour), a list of ingredients and allergen labelling.

Ice Beer

Ice beer is an acceptable claim for a beer subjected to the process of freezing and removal of the ice crystals so formed. The common name used for such a product must be based on the alcohol content of the beverage as outlined in above in Common Name for Beer, with "ice" as optional additional information.

List of Ingredients and Food Allergen, Gluten and Added Sulphite Labelling for Beer

Standardized beers and ales are exempt from the requirement to provide a list of ingredients and from allergen labelling [B.01.008 (2)(f), B.01.010.1(5), FDR]. This exemption stands when permitted ingredients, like spices made primarily of carbohydrate, are highlighted on the label, such as in a romance statement (advertising/marketing statement) or brand name, with the following exceptions:

  1. When the ingredient highlighting gives the impression that it constitutes a full list of ingredients, the ingredient listing would need to follow the requirements set out in the regulations.
  2. Any list of ingredients that is voluntarily provided must be complete, and declare all priority allergens and gluten sources, and added sulphites when present at 10 ppm or more.
  3. If a "Contains" statement is declared on the label of a beer or ale, and that statement could be mistaken for an allergen, gluten or sulphite declaration, then that "Contains" statement must be complete for all priority allergens and gluten sources, and sulphites when present at 10 ppm or more.

Use of the Term "Light" for Beer

For information refer to Common Name for Beer and Use of the Term "Light".

Gluten-Free Beer

For information refer to Gluten-Free Beer.

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